This small 35 year old novel really belongs to 10% of all works that get tagged as science fiction - it actually deals with science rather than politics!
While there are just too many novels now-a-days that deal with enclosed extra-terrestrial habitats, I still found it good reading because of fast pace & few pages.
And it describes a generally very realistic, if futuristic, machine. If you are an engineer, you will probably love it. Else the opinion is likely to be divided!
Story summary (spoiler).Habitat that is the center of this story ("Rama") is an artificial world floating through space - apparently on a multi-million year journey. A huge 50 km long, 20 km wide, & 2 km thick cylinder with interior that provides breathable atmosphere, artificial gravity, sunlight & day/night cycles, artificial sea & marine life, varied landscape, wind in its various moods, & bio-robots. Plus a propulsion system that defies Newton's Third Law, & ability to fly inside the sun's corona to refuel with solar material!
Story is essentially a description of the habitat details, & how it affects the human adventurers - there are few dialogs. Habitat is almost welcoming humans going by the ease with which human fliers are able to enter, explore, & sometimes defile it!
Fact sheet."Rendezvous with Rama", novel, review
Author: Arthur C Clarke
First published: 1972
Hugo Award winner in novel category in 1974
Series: "Jupiter Five" (A), "Rendezvous with Rama" (A), "Rama II" (C) , "Garden of Rama" (B), "Rama Revealed" (B)
- Very good 3 minute movie showing the approach & landing of human spacecraft on Rama, & entry of human explorers through airlock into the ship.
- MP3 radio adaptation of the novel in two parts - 01, & 02.
- "Rama series summary"
- "Influences" section of "Rescue Party". A ship very similar to Rama also appears in this first published story of Clarke.
- This novel appears to be just a longer version of "Jupiter Five".
- "The Fountains of Paradise" also has a cylindrical alien robotic space probe visiting our solar system. But this cylindrical ship has dimensions in meters rather than kilometers. And is fitted with a 500 km diameter antenna for communicating back to its home world.
- "Islands in the Sky" is another Clarkian novel that devotes a very large part to description of a machine - a man-made space station in near earth orbit; but this story has far more human-interest elements compared to Rendezvous. Islands also features a space hotel that in many ways is a smaller version of Rama.
- For tastes opposite mine, see Jeff Vehige's review of Rendezvous. If you cannot stand descriptive works, you might want to go with that view.