Born in Somerset, England, Arthur C. Clarke was a prolific and celebrated English Sci-Fi writer and television host. He’s probably most famous as the co-writer and collaborator with Stanley Kubrick of 2001: A Space Odyssey. He’s won numerous Hugo and Nebula awards in his career and along with Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov were frequently called “The Big Three”. Clarke’s stories are often prophetic if not always accurate. He is credited with inventing the concept of the artificial satellite; however, his vision of the moon being a sea of dust was, well, let’s say unrealized.
In this story, which is the only one in the Rama series written solely by him, the future Earth’s solar system is visited by a massive cylindrical ship. Sending a ship to investigate, it docks with the ship. It’s discovered that the ship is a incredibly huge spinning “tin can” with a frigid but breathable atmosphere. As the astronauts investigate, the ship begins to waken. Three “cities” are found and the “cylindrical sea” which encompasses Rama like a band. The far, southern, end has seven massive cone shaped objects which are believed to the the engines.
Before long, it’s discovered they may not be alone inside Rama…
The story is quite chilling and shows how we can be inventive and given the right impetus can put aside our differences and investigate the unknown and overcome the dark and fear.
It’s been said that Clarke was less interested in people and relationships but only used them to push forward the science in the fiction; however, it’s not quite as obvious in this story. The personal ambitions, desires, fears and unerring quest for knowledge are beautifully portrayed here.
So impressed was Morgan Freeman, that he has owned the rights since the early 2000’s and has been trying to turn it into film form ever since and by 2012 said that he’s still moving forward with it and is still trying to come up with a good script. Personally, I cannot wait, I cannot imagine it being anything other than incredible, but, likely less than my own imagination.
If you enjoy this, read the other stories co-written with Gentry Lee:
- Rama II
- The Garden of Rama
- Rama Revealed