Saturday, March 31, 2007

"Rama II" (novel): NASA bureaucracy revealed

First of the three sequels to Arthur Clark's "Rendezvous with Rama". Sequels are penned by Gentry Lee to outline provided by Arthur Clarke. While Lee's credentials include involvement in some of NASA's interplanetary missions, he sounds more of an engineer than a literateur. Don't expect anything even approaching Clarke on readability.

Story summary (spoiler).
First one third of this 15 year old book is essentially an introduction to NASA bureaucracy, particularly when it comes to manned mission planning. Highly fictionalized & dramatized. Note that the name NASA is nowhere mentioned; I am just guessing. And this text is generally consistent with Hollywood movie Armageddon.

Remaining two thirds has occasional readable portions.

Worst flaw of this book is readability. Primarily because of frequent & long flashbacks that are totally unrelated to main story.

If you can stand lousy writing, first one third does contain interesting information.

Fact sheet.
Rama II, novel, review
Authors: Arthur C Clarke & Gentry Lee
Genre: Adventure
First published: 1989
Rating: C

Series: "Jupiter Five" (A), "Rendezvous with Rama" (A), "Rama II" (C) , "Garden of Rama" (B), "Rama Revealed" (B)

See also: Rama series summary


Anonymous said...

Rama II is terrible. After having read Rendezvous with Rama, I eagerly picked up Rama II hoping that some of the mysteries in Rendezvous would be solved but Rama II is something like a Danielle Steele novel. Terrible writing style but more importantly who cares about the sleeping arrangements of the crew?! Honest to god, it's reading like some racy fiction which is absolutely disgusting. It's an insult to one's intellect to wade through such rubbish. I googled it after the first 15 or so chapters as I was wondering what the hell happened to to the brief, to the point, succint narrative of Rendezvous! Gentry Lee happened, that's what! How could Clarke allow his name to be married with Gentry Lee's for collaboration with SUCH a book? It's not SF at all, infact there are some Joan Collins novels that have a better plot and story line! Tinkoo, you are being too kind to Rama II!

- A disgruntled Fan

Anonymous said...

i agree with you, but keep in mind the sequel(s) came about as a direct result of fan pressure. Clarke wanted Rama to be done with after the first book. Yes, the Rama sequels are awful, but we, as fans, have no one to thank but ourselves.

Sebastian Tomczak said...

Everyone seems to say that Rama II is bad, but I just read it and haven't read any of the other Rama books incl. Rendezvous - and I didn't mind it, so I think I will have to read Rendezvous with Rama.

Tinkoo said...

A word of caution about Rendezvous - you need to have a taste for hard sf. I know folks who didn't like it because it's not literary enough. Remember this - Rendezvous is mostly a description of a machine - an unusual one, but still a machine.

Anonymous said...

I devoured Rendezvous With Rama, such a brilliant novella, and on a par with the original Ringworld for scope and imagination. So of course I bought Rama II instantly upon seeing it in a second-hand bookstore. Suffice to say that I know why it was in that second-hand bookstore. I gave up about ten pages after the botched (sabotaged? I'll never know or care) surgery scene. If I want soppy drama, I'll read a Mills & Boon. If I want hard Sci-Fi, I'll avoid Gentry Lee.

In fact, I remember picking up a copy of Cradle about a decade ago and not getting past the first chapter because it was so crap, come to think of it. WHAT was Arthur C. Clarke thinking?!

Tinkoo said...

"WHAT was Arthur C. Clarke thinking?!": Guess it's about money. He has other collaborations & franchises that are bad too - e.g., Paul Preuss' Venus Prime series.

Mikeijay said...

I read Rama II when I was in Hign School. I thought it was one of the best books I have ever read at the time. Strangely for some bizzare reason, becuase R.W.R. was written so many years ago I thought it would be a bit dated and skipped to the 'latter trilogy'.

A good 11 years later I now realise my total mistake! R.W.R. is a timeless classic where as Rama II really is a hot steaming pile of garbage.

I understand why those books are important - basically each time we come we bring more of 'earth' with us. The first Astronoughts were total professionals. The second team were selected along the same lines as a Big Brother content. The amount of sexual referances in the 3rd and 4th book may have excited me as a kid but as an adult it all seams a bit silly.

This book should be blasted off towards Alpha Centuri!

I hope Morgan Freeman gets round to making RWR, its about time someone tackled that!

lord akoroth said...

i agree. r w r was such a chilling thriller that my anticipation was through the roof when i picked up rama ii. but it was a complete disappointment.

while the 'rama' parts of it are exciting there is so much fluff and pointless character building in between that you tend to lose interest in the plot completely.

*SPOILER*: whats the point of forcing the readers to go through 200 pages or so of overtly dramatically life stories, operatic betrayals and tears and emotions if A) only three of characters matter and B) if rama is made secondary in the tale.

that was what grated the most. i wanted a story about rama, the ramans and their continuing association with humans, not cat fights between jealous women, love triangles and lots of wailing.

Skolkaren said...

I really liked Rama ii Garden and Rama Revealed. I read all three (and of course the fourth, first, one as well) when I was only 15-16 years old (I am now 27) but I do have fond memories of them, and I remember the persons in the books quite vividly. That said, it is very strange for me to read that the 10 comments I just say here were calling them piles of garbage? I can relate to the fact that it was quite apparent that Gentry Lee was in love with the technical stuff but.. well, I like that kind of stuff (O reilly) so maybe that was a reason for me to like it as well. I read all 4 books within a month and I have the best memories from the latter three than I got from the first one. Rama ii might have been the "worst one" but as part of a whole, I did find it.. really good, if not great even. I understand if the majority doesnt like it but I for one liked it and I wanted to share it with you. This was after all over 10 years ago but I believe I would like just as well today. /Nico from Sweden