|Submitted by Eric Dantes|
(Jan 11, 2001)
All right, this was a collaboration with Gentry Lee, but that's easily overlooked once you note that Clarke holds sway throughout, from beginning to end. You don't have to have read "Rendezvous with Rama" before reading this(I hadn't when I started), but as usual, it's recommended that you do. Always better to know what you're getting into. "Rama II" opens nicely with a brief discourse about Rama's previous visit to humankind in "Rendezvous with Rama". Rama, for the unitiated, was a large, cylindrical spaceship that passed through the solar system in 2132. A real behemoth(5o kilometres long), it was explored by a human contact team that recorded many strange findings. However, Rama just went on its merry way and was forgotten eventually as humanity's crises demanded more attention.2197. Sixty-five years after the first visit, a second Rama ship is discovered on its way through our solar system again. And perhaps this time, it has a purpose.That's "Rama II's" premise. It heads off to 2200 and introduces you to the second contact team, fleshing out the various characters. The most interesting character here is Nicole des Jardins, who also happens to be the heroine. The book starts off slow, with nothing much actually happening until the team embarks on their mission. The plot picks up the pace from there, and Clarke has made certain that you're interested in what happens to the main characters(the good ones, that is). While not everything here is new, it's a very enjoyable reading experience. This isn't particularly ground-breaking stuff, but it's very well written - and terribly immersive from the middle onwards. The last half of this book is rife with emotional conflicts, and the narration becomes a little - dare I say it - tense. Which is simply perfect, as is the ending. I don't want to say more about that, since describing it would give away too much, and probably ruin your emotional attachment to the book. All in all, this is how a good book ought to be written. It had me crying out for a sequel -- and guess what, there was! "The Garden of Rama" is perhaps even better than "Rama II"... but I'm not reviewing that here.You would do well not to skip the initial chapters, since they hold a lot of information that's pertinent to the rest of the book in many ways. If you're looking for science fiction with more emphasis on science than story, this isn't the place. If you want a strong story with good science backing, "Rama II" is perfect for you. An absolute treasure to behold.