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Rama II

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70 years after the events of Rendezvous with Rama, a second Raman vessel enters our solar system. Its arrival is expected and an expedition is sent to unlock more of Rama's mysteries, but the crew are unprepared both for what they find and for the conflicts that arise between them. 70 years after the events of Rendezvous with Rama, a second Raman vessel enters our solar system. Its arrival is expected and an expedition is sent to unlock more of Rama's mysteries, but the crew are unprepared both for what they find and for the conflicts that arise between them.


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70 years after the events of Rendezvous with Rama, a second Raman vessel enters our solar system. Its arrival is expected and an expedition is sent to unlock more of Rama's mysteries, but the crew are unprepared both for what they find and for the conflicts that arise between them. 70 years after the events of Rendezvous with Rama, a second Raman vessel enters our solar system. Its arrival is expected and an expedition is sent to unlock more of Rama's mysteries, but the crew are unprepared both for what they find and for the conflicts that arise between them.

30 review for Rama II

  1. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    So. Two stars. That’s a really low rating for me. Normally, if I really don’t like a book, I just move on with my life. But this one had elements that hit close to home for me. Sorry, I realize that I was just speaking Midwestern Understatement. What I meant to say was that this book is a tangible manifestation of my nightmares. Is this an awful book? No. Did I enjoy it? No. It frustrated me from the first page. From *before* the first page, actually. More than that, even. This book made me angry. So. Two stars. That’s a really low rating for me. Normally, if I really don’t like a book, I just move on with my life. But this one had elements that hit close to home for me. Sorry, I realize that I was just speaking Midwestern Understatement. What I meant to say was that this book is a tangible manifestation of my nightmares. Is this an awful book? No. Did I enjoy it? No. It frustrated me from the first page. From *before* the first page, actually. More than that, even. This book made me angry. But is it a bad book in itself? No. Which is why I’m writing a review of it. To explain this strange situation and to talk about the danger of sequels. *** First and foremost, you need to know that this is a review of a sequel. For those of you who haven't read my review of the first Rama book, here's a link. This review will probably make better sense if you’ve read that. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... For those of you who are too lazy to read and/or have a bizarre fear of clicking, I liked the first book. It's a very lean, tight piece of what I'd consider "Classical hard sci-fi" by which I mean there's a focus on the science, and an emphasis of plot over character. This sequel was written more than 15 years later in collaboration with a different author: Gentry Lee. From what I've gathered, I think it's safe to say that Clarke provided some ideas for this sequel, while Lee is the one who actually wrote the book. What went wrong: Ultimately, everything that made me dislike this book stems from the fact that it’s a sequel to Rendezvous with Rama. 1. Enormous stylistic shift from the first book. This book was much longer (more than twice as long) and much more descriptive than the first book. The structure itself was much more meandering, and non-linear. Now I don't mean to say that Gentry's writing is unpleasant. Honestly, his style is much more like mine than Clarke's is. So I can't throw stones. The problem is that it’s almost the opposite of everything Clarke did in the first book. Clarke’s description is lean to the point of austerity. And as I mentioned in my previous review, Clarke’s pacing and structure is so tight that it almost doesn’t allow room for tension. (Almost). The result is that this sequel doesn’t just feel entirely different. (Which would be a big enough issue by itself) it’s that when held up against the first book, this one feels huge, loose, ponderous, and slow. 2. Huge shift in tone. In the first book, Clark tells a story of humanity coming together and working against incredible odds to investigate a mystery. And by extension, improve the sum total of human knowledge. It’s true that some people in the book react with fear, but wiser heads prevail. The story was optimistic and full of heroes. This makes it a book that’s hopeful about the future of humanity. In the sequel, pretty much everyone is a bastard, by which I mean they’re motivated by self-interest. There are a few people that stand up to them… but that leads to an entirely different kind of story. A world where everyone’s a bastard except for 3 people isn’t an optimistic book. The other huge change in character deals with the cleverness of the characters. In the first book, the characters are really clever. When investigating the alien ship, the Astronauts move with great deliberation and forethought. They’re painfully aware of the fact that they don’t know what’s going on. They treat the alien ship with reverence, and are careful… well… not to be total dickbags when interacting with the ship. For example, when investigating the ship, they talk about cutting through walls so they can see the inner working of the ship or the contents of some of the structures…. But then they don’t, because they realize that that could be viewed as aggressive by the ship (Which has shown itself to be automated.) Also, when they encounter creatures on the ship, they decide *not* to try and capture and/or kill them. Because again, that would probably be seen as aggressive/destructive. In the sequel, when they get onto the ship, almost the very *first* thing they do is try to attack/capture one of the creatures they see. And when it goes wrong a lot of the folks are like, “Holy shit, who ever thought it would come to this?!?” Well, everyone who read the first book, I’m guessing. And probably anyone who wasn’t a total self-interested bastard, too. 3. Huge focal shift from the first book. The first book of the series was focused primarily on the ship itself. There were was some backstory to the world, and there was some information on the characters, too. But all of that was in service to the center of the story, which was about the aliens and the mystery of their ship. The sequel focuses on the characters themselves. There are twice as many, and nearly every character is a POV character at some point. And they all have backstories. And flashbacks. And ulterior motives that have nothing to do with unraveling the mystery of the ship. The odd thing is that I actually *like* this kind of book more. Character stuff is my bread and butter. But that's not why I started reading this book. I started reading this book for answers to the mysteries that were brought up in the first book. But honestly? This book kinda didn't give a shit about the previously established mysteries at all. And if you think I'm just being pissy, consider this: The original Rama was 243 pages long. But in this second book, the crew doesn't even get to the ship until page 170 or so. But ultimately, here's the real dealbreaker for me.... 4. It turns out Clarke wrote Rendezvous with Rama as a stand-alone novel. He mentioned this in his introduction. And when I read that piece of information, my initial reaction was genuine anger and disgust. As the opening to a three-part series that slowly unravels mysteries about a spaceship(s) and the alien race that created it, Rendezvous with Rama was a great book. But as a stand alone novel it has all the appeal of half a hand job. Half *dry* hand job. By a dumpster behind gas station. Now this might seem a little harsh. But it really isn't. There's an enormous difference between a story that doesn't give you all the answers (either because of subtlety in the storytelling or because the answers will be coming in future books) and a story that has no answers to give. The main difference is that the latter story is utter bullshit. This is what I mean when I said this book disappointed me from before the first page. What I found out in the introduction to this book actually made revise my opinion of the previous book, and lose respect for Clarke as an author. I’d assumed he was teasing us with a mystery. I’d assumed he had answers he was going to give us eventually. But he didn't. And that is a betrayal of trust. It makes me go back and resent the book that I'd previously enjoyed. It actually makes me want to go back in and change my rating of the book here on goodreads. (And I may. I'm not sure...) This is also what I was referring to when I mentioned that this book is my worst nightmare. It's proof that a sequel can be more than a disappointment. It can retroactively ruin a book you had previously enjoyed. And yeah. That's a spooky thing to me. And it lets me know that I'm right to be careful with my own sequels. I actually bought the third book of the series. But I'm not going to read it. It's a rare thing for me to give up on a series like this. But I feel ill-used by Clarke. And there are many other books to read....

  2. 5 out of 5

    mark monday

    Two men enter a curio shop and see a delightful object. "I made that!" exclaimed one man. "Now that I am long in years, perhaps I can improve upon it." Replied the second man, with some enthusiasm: "Indeed! I may be able to help with that project. I have certain new-fangled ideas that shall modernize your quaint antique!" Sadly, both men were quite mistaken. why the urge to improve upon what was perfectly fine as is? this sequel adds absolutely nothing to the original - except a host of cheap soa Two men enter a curio shop and see a delightful object. "I made that!" exclaimed one man. "Now that I am long in years, perhaps I can improve upon it." Replied the second man, with some enthusiasm: "Indeed! I may be able to help with that project. I have certain new-fangled ideas that shall modernize your quaint antique!" Sadly, both men were quite mistaken. why the urge to improve upon what was perfectly fine as is? this sequel adds absolutely nothing to the original - except a host of cheap soap opera shenanigans (including, good grief, a love triangle) that are all abandoned at about the halfway point, plus much eye-rolling, poorly thought-out spirituality to boot. the awesome mystery of the fantastic and eerie alien spaceship Rama is not expanded upon; instead, a sub-Alien narrative of explorers being killed off one by one is shoehorned into the plot. the characterization in the first book was warm and pleasingly straightforward; this novel replaces that with wearying dime store Freudianism and, most unpleasantly, some questionable 'liberalism' around race and gender that comes across as both dated and condescending. sigh. fortunately, not all of the characterization fails. the protagonist and her eventual love interest (but really, why does there even need to be a 'love interest'?) are nice creations - at least when they are not being bogged down by their needlessly overwrought backstories. I just wish I had met those characters in a different novel because they certainly do not belong in this one. my advice: stick with the highly enjoyable Rendezvous with Rama and don't bother with its sequel(s).

  3. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    I'm about 1/5 in and this book SUCKS. Nothing has happened, the pacing is at an absolute crawl, and all I'm getting in the way of story is far too much backstory on all the characters. Oh, and some of the writing is bad. "She looked up at the lights and Francesca. The gold sequins on the front of the Italian journalist's dress had grouped into a pattern, or so it seemed to Nicole. She saw a head in the sequins, the head of a large cat, its eyes gleaming and its mouth with sharp teeth just beginn I'm about 1/5 in and this book SUCKS. Nothing has happened, the pacing is at an absolute crawl, and all I'm getting in the way of story is far too much backstory on all the characters. Oh, and some of the writing is bad. "She looked up at the lights and Francesca. The gold sequins on the front of the Italian journalist's dress had grouped into a pattern, or so it seemed to Nicole. She saw a head in the sequins, the head of a large cat, its eyes gleaming and its mouth with sharp teeth just beginning to open." JESUS CHRIST. I GET IT. The 'Italian journalist' (why do you need to constantly remind me she's an Italian journalist?) is like a cat getting ready to pounce on her prey. MOVE THE FUCK ON. Why do you need to be so literal? Really? Her sequined holiday dress looks like a cat to this other character? And the heavy-handed visit with the pope, the visit to a saint's monument, all to show how uber-religious this character is. Where is the science fiction? Is there an Arthur C. Clarke book buried somewhere in all this drivel?

  4. 4 out of 5

    Will M.

    I am obviously in the minority here but I enjoyed this novel... is it even safe to say that I enjoyed it more than the first one? Full review to come. Bought the last 2 books in the series too, even though I'm 100% certain that I will take a break from this series for a while. I am obviously in the minority here but I enjoyed this novel... is it even safe to say that I enjoyed it more than the first one? Full review to come. Bought the last 2 books in the series too, even though I'm 100% certain that I will take a break from this series for a while.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Adrian

    I was surprised that this book turned out to be so disappointing. I almost gave up a few times but forced myself to finish, expecting it to get better. Now I feel abashed, as if I sent a nigerian prince $10,000.00 because I believed his email about his terrible, urgent need. Rendezvous with Rama (The book proceeding Rama II in the series) was a wonderful book. It was a classic example of "hard" sci fi, Arhur C. Clarke at his best. It had fascinating science, great atmosphere and tension, and buil I was surprised that this book turned out to be so disappointing. I almost gave up a few times but forced myself to finish, expecting it to get better. Now I feel abashed, as if I sent a nigerian prince $10,000.00 because I believed his email about his terrible, urgent need. Rendezvous with Rama (The book proceeding Rama II in the series) was a wonderful book. It was a classic example of "hard" sci fi, Arhur C. Clarke at his best. It had fascinating science, great atmosphere and tension, and built to a decent climax. Above all it was well thought out, Rendezvous avoided sensational story tactics and instead presented a logical, realistic resolution to the story. Rama II apparently felt Rama I was too dull, and responds by tossing all the logic and realism out the window. In their place Rama II piles on huge helpings of fatiguing "character development" for uninteresting characters and opts for eye-rolling soap opera story in place of simple good sci fi. Having enjoyed Rama I so much, I was determined to like Rama II. I kept reading thinking to myself, "Surely, this must get better at some point" A few hundred pages later I feel dirty. Like I fell for a clearly fraudulent pitch of some snake oil salesman. All the signs were there that Rama II was not a very good book, I deceived myself into not seeing them. But I should give examples if I am to criticize the book so harshly, beware, spoilers ahead! Reasons why this book just was not good: -The Shakespear Robots. Yes, this one guy likes shakespear, and makes cute robots that recite shakespear. We get it already. MAKE THE ROBOTS SHUT UP!!! Why do they keep coming back?? They get more lines than half the crew. -After the commander of the mission dies early on, there is NO clearly designated second in command. Seriously? The single most important event in human history, and the assembled world governments, military and space programs do not think it's important enough to have a clearly defined command structure? That is just idiotic. The only reason that there was no second in command was to provide a plot device for the crew to argue over who should lead, and then to have tension after someone is picked. Its like reality TV.....survivor in space. -The crew. My god these people. I guess Arthur C. Clarke has received some criticism for having weaker than average characterization. But this book responds by just layering on long meandering pointless back stories of dull characters. It doesnt make you care about them, it makes you mad they are not focusing on more interesting matters. The Rama I crew made sense, it was an assembly of the space programs finest, which you would expect on such an important mission, and they completed their mission with professionalism. This crew has a ridiculously high percentage of untrained, borderline insane civilians along just for fun. TWO journalists, who are both wildly unbalanced. Really?? Well I guess it is the single most important mission in human history, that is why we sent Walter Cronkite to the moon with Neil Armstrong right?......right? -The book introduces practically nothing new from Rama I. The crew gets to Rama II basically encounters the same things the Rama I crew did, and then spend all their time with terrible interpersonal conflicts. There were a few new encounters, but no big "WOW" moments that would have made this worth while. - Rama II either ignores or just plain forgets about a number of Rama I facts. For example the Hermians, who played an interesting role in Rama I, are left out this time. The book details a huge economic collapse on Earth and briefly mentions most of the space colonies in the solar system had to return to Earth due to lack of supply or aid. However in Rama I it is clearly stated that the Hermians on Mercury are entirely self sufficient, and an incredibly hearty race of people. And Rama I makes a point that they could never return to earth anyway, having been born on the extremely low gravity of Mercury. -Simple technology appears to have regressed hundreds of years. For example in Rama I the crew is able to communicate to each other from anywhere aboard the Rama ship, even when someone crashes in the southern hemisphere his equipment is strong enough to survive and he can still communicate to the far end of the Northern Hemisphere. In Rama II the crew cannot speak to each other for even half that distance once the Beta Relay is damaged. There were a number of examples of this, the book does state there was a large economic collapse for a few decades between Rama I and II, but I simply cant believe technology went to crap as much as this book wants you to believe. It's like Micheal Bay's Armageddon, these changes only exist so that more things can go wrong to make it harder for the crew and provide some sort of conflict. Everything must go wrong at every step, unlike Rama I which was more logical and realistic. - The ending. After putting up with all the contrived "things that go wrong", the endless slogging through characters generic backstories so we get to know them....none of it pays off! The bad guys get to go back to earth with no one who can incriminate them still alive (As far as they know), and presumably live out long lives making billions of dollars. The good guys quietly shuttle off into deep space, not having learned much at all from the long mission, just happy to be alive. The rest of the good guys die. I am only a quarter of the way through the third book, so maybe there is resolution still to come. But as of the end of Rama II your left asking yourself..."WHY was I forced to learn so much about these people, how aweful they are? It was completely irrelevant!" -Also, who is the unidentified father of the main characters daughter? The freaking King of England. Because a Duke just wouldn't have been dramatic enough. So anyway, first book good, second book bad. Thats the long and the short of it. (P.S. Seriously, the crew still annoys me. David Brown the scientist who eventually conives his way into being in charge. What the hell? A middling scientist with modest acheivements and EVERYONE seems to know that he stole his only important work from a grad student...why is he on this mission? Why does anyone think he should be in charge?? And even when the doctor is virtualy certain the reporter witch killed the commander and is pulling a thousand other strings, the doctor just goes on refusing to tell anyone her suspicions, ug)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    Good: Anything not involving the characters. The history of the economic crisis, description of the saint. Bad: Anything involving characters and character development. Minus the catholic guy who visits the pope and the saint's memorial. I'm sorry, I just can't keep reading this. It's excruciating. I'm bailing at page 100. Parts of it are really good, like the 2 chapter history of the economic crisis. That was fun, detailed, well thought out. But whenever this book interacts with a human being, I Good: Anything not involving the characters. The history of the economic crisis, description of the saint. Bad: Anything involving characters and character development. Minus the catholic guy who visits the pope and the saint's memorial. I'm sorry, I just can't keep reading this. It's excruciating. I'm bailing at page 100. Parts of it are really good, like the 2 chapter history of the economic crisis. That was fun, detailed, well thought out. But whenever this book interacts with a human being, I want to stab my myself (apart from the guy who visits the pope, I liked that description of the saint). I don't know how the author can go into such detail about these people. They're so mind numbingly 1 dimensional and boring. It's like reading a crappy soap opera. An illegitimate child with a european monarch who is also her long lost love? Kill me now. It's not even as interesting as one of those cheesy romance novels. When I read the original book, I sort of thought that the characters were kind of bland and uninteresting. But now I know better, the contrast with Rama II, they were a blessing. Thank god Arthur C. Clarke didn't waste time developing them. Have you ever read an Asimov book for the original/exciting characters? God no. This is Sci-fi, personality is optional. Especially if personality means the cast of Rama II. I could have enjoyed it if the characters didn't have so much pointless drama. I just wanted to yell at them: "You're going to a freaking alien spacecraft! Just obey your goddamn orders and shut the hell up!" Ok, I'm done venting.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Doug Armstrong

    I don't know if I can even be bothered to finish this one. Arthur C. Clarke was never very good at writing believable characters; his strengths were the amazingly inventive premises, attention to detail, and ability to make even the craziest technologies seem scientifically possible. So here we have a novel that Clarke apparently created the characters for (it shows) and outlined ideas, but is actually written by some other author. I absolutely loved the original book, Rendezvous with Rama, it w I don't know if I can even be bothered to finish this one. Arthur C. Clarke was never very good at writing believable characters; his strengths were the amazingly inventive premises, attention to detail, and ability to make even the craziest technologies seem scientifically possible. So here we have a novel that Clarke apparently created the characters for (it shows) and outlined ideas, but is actually written by some other author. I absolutely loved the original book, Rendezvous with Rama, it was perfect. The mysterious alien ship that slowly reveals even greater mysteries the more they learn about it, how the alien technology is so alien yet still grounded in science, the way the astronauts behaved realistically, and the ambiguous ending were so satisfying. Where Clarke recognized that the alien ship was the real main character and the humans ancillary, this author decided that what people REALLY care about are the wholly-unlikable and unrealistic characters. I've read 2/3 of the book and it is still primarily focused on the character's interactions. It's just insultingly stupid in some places, like for example the main female character (an impossibly attractive & educated person with a child by the King of England, ugh) has premonitions of bad things, and they come true. Seriously-- in a sci-fi book with Arthur C. Clarke's name on the jacket, there's magical bullshit. We're also supposed to believe that for the most important space mission in human history, and perhaps the single most important moment in human history as a whole, they'd send up two guys who are fighting over the same woman who's ALSO on the mission (another impossibly attractive female with unbelievable levels of intellect, it's like this guy can't envision a woman who isn't Stephen Hawking's brain inside a super model's body). The only character that's competently written is the Russian commander, and to a lesser extent maybe the Japanese guys, although they're basically just furniture with a few lines. Another thing that pisses me off is that this guy barely ever goes into any actual science behind anything. Clarke would have explained exactly how their mission ships operate, how gravity or the lack thereof affects things (this guy can't make up his mind, some scenes imply there's gravity but others imply that they're weightless), and everything else down to the smallest details. That's what makes his novels seem so real and plausible, the science works. Here you have some scientist guys creating insanely detailed little robots (seriously, they let him bring aboard all his toy robot making stuff? When every ounce of weight costs tens of thousands of dollars to get into space?) with no explanation of how they work, a mission ship that seems as spacious as the Enterprise (actually two equally badly thought out and terribly written mission ships), and a million other little things that make you go "WTF?" Anyway, I have a feeling that any secrets revealed about the Raman ship will be highly disappointing and most likely so stupid I'll just get really angry, so I'm debating even finishing this book. I probably should, since maybe it suddenly gets awesome in the last 100 pages, but the thought isn't very exciting when I have other books to read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    bsc

    Though not in the same league as Rendezvous with Rama, this was quite enjoyable. I was surprised that Lee, a scientist with JPL, made this a much more character focused novel. He didn't do a bad job at it or anything but that probably wasn't what most people wanted out of a Rama sequel. Though not in the same league as Rendezvous with Rama, this was quite enjoyable. I was surprised that Lee, a scientist with JPL, made this a much more character focused novel. He didn't do a bad job at it or anything but that probably wasn't what most people wanted out of a Rama sequel.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Randall

    "Worst science fiction book ever" and "Arthur C. Clarke" -- in the same sentence? Sad, but true. How is that possible? I can only guess that Clarke was getting senile, and Gentry Lee, while possessing impressive credentials, just must not be any kind of fiction writer at all. However it came about, this awful book is the result. As a confirmed science fiction fan, having read hundreds of scifi books in my 57 years of life, the contest is over for the worst of them all. I hesitate to provide specif "Worst science fiction book ever" and "Arthur C. Clarke" -- in the same sentence? Sad, but true. How is that possible? I can only guess that Clarke was getting senile, and Gentry Lee, while possessing impressive credentials, just must not be any kind of fiction writer at all. However it came about, this awful book is the result. As a confirmed science fiction fan, having read hundreds of scifi books in my 57 years of life, the contest is over for the worst of them all. I hesitate to provide specifics, since it means I have to actually think about it all over again. But I suppose I must... the characters are all either devious or criminally pompous and egotistical (or both), except for a few science-smart folks who are criminally lacking any common-sense. Sure, all of those kinds of people exist in the world, and often rise to positions of power. But sending this train-wreck of a group off on such a critical mission, without any thought to their collective mental stability, obvious criminal intent, or ability to work together? It's just not credible. Sure, science-fiction requires suspension of disbelief to some degree. But to this extent -- I mean even if I could, I wouldn't want to. Think Prometheus and you'll get the idea. And then there's the ship and its inhabitants which are, for some reason, much more malevolent than the first one. Why? I don't remember if or how this was explained in the book, but I think it probably just comes down to Lee being too unimaginative to think of actual interesting plotlines without adding a scary-aliens aspect. Which makes no sense -- I mean, he was co-creator of Cosmos for god's sake! Maybe it all has something to do with Pods...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    What a pile of crap! Gentry Lee took over what was an amazing hardcore science fiction novel in Rama and turned it into some crappy drama, with novice style intrigue, a bunch of ridiculous characters that having you going from indifferent to totally hating them. This is a afternoon soap opera with the background of space. I loved Rama, I loved the ideas brought up by Arthur Clarke, and I was so excited to learn more about the Ramans and their ship that the second encounter should have brought, i What a pile of crap! Gentry Lee took over what was an amazing hardcore science fiction novel in Rama and turned it into some crappy drama, with novice style intrigue, a bunch of ridiculous characters that having you going from indifferent to totally hating them. This is a afternoon soap opera with the background of space. I loved Rama, I loved the ideas brought up by Arthur Clarke, and I was so excited to learn more about the Ramans and their ship that the second encounter should have brought, instead I learned about a bunch of pathetic characters that have a ton of personal problems, the chicks are sluts, and the dudes are retarded. This was one of the worst piles of refuse I have ever struggled through and it makes it all the more painful because I loved Rama so much. DO NOT READ THIS BOOK!!! It will destroy the good memories of the novel actually written by Clarke!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    I was incredulous of the many 1- and 2-star ratings this book had. But now I've finished reading it, and I get it. In and of itself, it wasn't a terrible book. The writing and story were OK, but this just wasn't a classic Arthur C. Clarke novel. Clarke's stories were always about the science, the science fiction and the wonders and thrills that lay within which propelled the narrative forward. This book was obviously more Gentry Lee, because it was jam-packed with melodrama and soap opera-like s I was incredulous of the many 1- and 2-star ratings this book had. But now I've finished reading it, and I get it. In and of itself, it wasn't a terrible book. The writing and story were OK, but this just wasn't a classic Arthur C. Clarke novel. Clarke's stories were always about the science, the science fiction and the wonders and thrills that lay within which propelled the narrative forward. This book was obviously more Gentry Lee, because it was jam-packed with melodrama and soap opera-like subplots. Clarke always gave you just enough information about the characters to get a feel for them and understand how they related to the story. Rama II felt like the TV show "Lost" - every time the narrative changed to focus on a different character, you got too much and mostly unnecessary flashback stories of their past. The wonders and mystery of Rama took a backseat to backstabbing, sex and blind ambition. If that's your sort of bag, you may enjoy this book, but true Clarke fans most likely won't.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ana

    Definitely longer than the first book, "Rama II" is also much more character-centric and person driven than the first one. This installment is all about reminiscing over some lost childhood or getting entangled in relationships with unlikely people, in highly unlikely places. I still love the idea of a ship that resembles "Rama", an enclosed ecosystem so very different but so alike to our own Earth, where stages of evolutionary development are burned over the course of hours, instead of millions Definitely longer than the first book, "Rama II" is also much more character-centric and person driven than the first one. This installment is all about reminiscing over some lost childhood or getting entangled in relationships with unlikely people, in highly unlikely places. I still love the idea of a ship that resembles "Rama", an enclosed ecosystem so very different but so alike to our own Earth, where stages of evolutionary development are burned over the course of hours, instead of millions of years. I found that the second book didn't add much to the story of Rama, but rather introduced a whole new set of characters and tried to make the reader very very interested in them. Even if I'm still waiting for an explanation on the alien race, I couldn't give this book less than the four stars I gave the first because I still found it riveting, read it in about 6ish hours and was adamant that I absolutely hated one of the characters (which honestly, usually only happens if the character is well-written or well-constructed). I'm just now starting the third book in very high spirits. self note: this is my 700th shelved book on GR.

  13. 5 out of 5

    RJ from the LBC

    "Don't read this one, it's boring!" is what everyone warned me. Did I listen? No. But I should have. Kicked it after reading for about 10 months and realizing I still had 200 pages to go. No one should have to suffer like that. I'll pass on the sequels too, along with everything else Gentry Lee has written. "Don't read this one, it's boring!" is what everyone warned me. Did I listen? No. But I should have. Kicked it after reading for about 10 months and realizing I still had 200 pages to go. No one should have to suffer like that. I'll pass on the sequels too, along with everything else Gentry Lee has written.

  14. 5 out of 5

    John Tye

    My working theory is that by 1989, when Rama II was published, anything with Arthur C. Clarke's name on it was considered above editing. Though Clarke, being creator of the series and the more prominent name, gets top billing, Lee is said to be the main perpetrator of this work, a follow-up to Clarke's award-winning 1972 Rendezvous with Rama. Both novels deal with expeditions to mysterious alien spacecraft, fifty-kilometer-long spinning cylinders containing an entire world with plains, a sea, ci My working theory is that by 1989, when Rama II was published, anything with Arthur C. Clarke's name on it was considered above editing. Though Clarke, being creator of the series and the more prominent name, gets top billing, Lee is said to be the main perpetrator of this work, a follow-up to Clarke's award-winning 1972 Rendezvous with Rama. Both novels deal with expeditions to mysterious alien spacecraft, fifty-kilometer-long spinning cylinders containing an entire world with plains, a sea, city-like constructions. After an uninspired introduction recounting a minor training accident and subsequent crew conference, the novel launches into two chapters of exposition describing seventy years of economic history leading up to 2200. Granted, those chapters comprise only ten pages or so, but they are almost entirely superfluous, possibly existing mainly to satisfy the author's vanity (Look! I'm a rocket scientist and I can talk about economics! And I've come up with this fascinating backstory!). The inability to leave out unnecessary detail plagues Lee's awkward writing. Time and again, he seems to blurt out, in a stage whisper, "Hey! This is THE FUTURE! See? That's not just a bus, it's an ELECTRIC bus! Did I mention that all the planes are SUPERSONIC?" Gee-whizziness may be literary MSG for technophiles, but it has a short shelf life, and in this novel it's often clumsily presented. Lee might be attempting to depict something ordinary in this WORLD OF THE FUTURE, but his bumbling attempts to draw attention to it without drawing attention to it undermine that objective. When he doesn't even try to be subtle, he becomes long-winded. Consider the following: "The video monitor in the back of the seat in front of Nicole automatically turned on and reminded her that in only fifteen minutes the plane would land at the Kansai Transportation Center. The lovely Japanese girl on the screen suggested that now would be an excellent time to make or confirm ground transportation and housing arrangements. Nicole activated the communication system in her seat and a thin rectangular tray with a keyboard and small video area slid in front of her. In less than a minute Nicole arranged both her train ride to Kyoto and her electric trolley passage from there to her hotel. She used her Universal Credit Card (UCC) to pay for all transactions, after first correctly identifying herself by indicating that her mother's maiden name was Anawi Tiasso. When she was finished a small printed schedule listing her train and trolley identifiers, along with the times of arrival and transit (she would reach her hotel at 11:14 a.m. Japanese time), popped out one end of the tray." Would this have seemed impressive in the dark ages of 1989? Maybe? Even so, would that justify letting this passage, which has no impact on the story, escape wholesale deletion? A fine line may exist between flavor and verbosity, but I maintain that this is a good example of the latter. In a later episode, Lee describes with the same excruciating detail how Nicole orders soup (minestrone, to be specific) and bottled water from hotel room service using a computer that gives her a precise three-minute window during which to expect delivery. The curious thing is that this attention to detail is applied mainly to insignificant activities. Don't expect to learn anything about the Newton spacecraft or the reconnaissance drones, etc. Except for RobSur (Robot Surgeon): we get an earful about that device's funky interrupt-handling code. In theory, Rama II moves from Rendezvous with Rama's strictly hard-science-fiction storytelling to a character-based narrative. Normally, I wouldn't object, but Lee relies heavily on cheap pop psychology. [In this respect, I was reminded of Robinson's [book: Red Mars]. Incidentally, the reader who enjoyed both Red Mars and Niven's awful Ringworld may well enjoy Rama II. The Rama spacecraft is reminiscent of the ringworld (although it is more interesting), and the scientific detail and characterization are similar to those found in Red Mars (although a tad weaker). Since both Red Mars and Ringworld are considered classics, finding fans of Rama II might not be terribly difficult.] Possibly in part because of a numerically limited sample, there are primarily two distinct types of women: the conniving kind and the incorruptible; the depiction of men, on the other hand, encompasses the full range of possibilities, from brooding buffoonish to jolly buffoonish. Well, since there a couple of quiet, humble, polite "orientals" (i.e., Japanese), perhaps there's more depth, after all. The other result of the novel being more character-driven is that much of the drama must be derived from interpersonal relations and conflict, which apparently means sacrificing realism. Despite careful vetting, the crew ends up including psychopaths and other unstable personalities (in stark contrast to the professionals in the ad-hoc mission of the first novel). I still have no idea why a widely-disliked theoretical physicist who dismisses engineers as glorified plumbers and regards empirical scientists as little better (and who loathes machines) is the de facto science leader of a mission to an alien spaceship. Well, I do have an idea, and it has nothing to do with realism. And then there's the man child with his miniature Shakespearean robots. Forsooth! When it comes down to it, this novel amounts in quality and character pretty much to 466 pages of fan fiction. At one point, we're offered this: "'The technology of an advanced extraterrestrial species,' she reminded Richard of one of his favorite quotes, 'will be indistinguishable from magic.'" This quotation, poorly paraphrased, is Clarke's own third law of prediction. It's a fine sentiment, but seems gratuitous. Sometimes it's references like this, sometimes it's the tortured sentence structures. Strangely, though, my feelings towards the novel grew more charitable as things went on. It's entirely possible that this is a manifestation of Stockholm syndrome, but I'm going to assert that the novel actually improves along the way. Still, I find it difficult to imagine willingly reading the sequels and especially any unrelated works by Gentry Lee.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    I honestly couldn't get very far into this book. I really enjoyed Rendezvous with Rama, but this novel failed to hold my attention for two reasons: The worldbuilding was well-thought out, but was written like a well-written history textbook, or the sourcebook for a roleplaying game. I wanted to get into this world, not read its history texts. The few characters I actually saw right away didn't have a "save the cat" moment. I had no reason to empathize with them, and didn't. As a result, I got maybe I honestly couldn't get very far into this book. I really enjoyed Rendezvous with Rama, but this novel failed to hold my attention for two reasons: The worldbuilding was well-thought out, but was written like a well-written history textbook, or the sourcebook for a roleplaying game. I wanted to get into this world, not read its history texts. The few characters I actually saw right away didn't have a "save the cat" moment. I had no reason to empathize with them, and didn't. As a result, I got maybe 75 pages into this rather massive tome before putting it down. Maybe I set it down just before it got better; they hadn't even lifted off of Earth yet. Which, I guess, is the problem. I wanted to read more about the artifact. In Rendevous with Rama, the rest of human society impacts what's going on - but the focus is still on the artifact and the humans exploring it. The artifact is what made me want to read the next book in the series - stalling so long to get to it really turned me off. I'm still vaguely interested in the concept and idea - but not enough to slog through this huge tome in order to get there.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

    The first book in the series, Rendezvous with Rama, was a good read and I was excited about this sequel. No no no. The first was focused on exploration and discovery and the characters were imperfect but hard-working, decent people. Rama II is poorly written, bogged down by inane machinations by cliched and unlikeable characters, and worst of all, reduces the fascinating mysteries of the first book to an increasingly ridiculous premise. Like with the three new Star Wars movies, I wish I could cl The first book in the series, Rendezvous with Rama, was a good read and I was excited about this sequel. No no no. The first was focused on exploration and discovery and the characters were imperfect but hard-working, decent people. Rama II is poorly written, bogged down by inane machinations by cliched and unlikeable characters, and worst of all, reduces the fascinating mysteries of the first book to an increasingly ridiculous premise. Like with the three new Star Wars movies, I wish I could cleanse this from my brain and remember just the original book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Brett

    Let me add my voice to the chorus of other reviewers saying what a load of crap this book turned out to be. The original Rendezvous with Rama was an intelligent and thoughtful treatment about what first contact between humans and another intelligence might look like. Fifteen years later, Rama II arrives with none of the qualities that made the original enjoyable, and instead brings a bunch of characters whose emotional register is similar to the characters from the telenovellas we used to have t Let me add my voice to the chorus of other reviewers saying what a load of crap this book turned out to be. The original Rendezvous with Rama was an intelligent and thoughtful treatment about what first contact between humans and another intelligence might look like. Fifteen years later, Rama II arrives with none of the qualities that made the original enjoyable, and instead brings a bunch of characters whose emotional register is similar to the characters from the telenovellas we used to have to watch in my high school Spanish class. Why did this happen? I'm going to put most of the blame on Gentry Lee, the co-author of the book. Arthur C. Clarke is one of the all time great science fiction writers and 2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the best books I've ever read in any genre. Clarke, however, is not known for writing great character studies. Yet, that is just what Rama II sets out to be. Almost the entirety of the book is about the juvenile and stupid relations between the characters. Clarke can write bad books (see: 3001: The Final Odyssey) but not this specific kind of bad book. This leads me to believe that it is really Gentry Lee who did the bulk of the writing and Clarke's name was added to the front cover to sell more copies. The plot is almost unchanged from the original, except this time humans have already had one experience with the Raman spacecraft. It doesn't make any difference. In this future, humankind and these characters cannot learn from the past, and they basically just repeat the events of the first time around, except with a turbocharged ability to get into pointless arguments and tiresome infighting. Rama II is a huge disappointment, and one that casts a bit of a pall over the achievements of Rendezvous with Rama. Best to just read the first and pretend that you don't know that this sequel exists.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Denis

    II: This is the sequel to A. C. Clarke's Rama I, and I think it delivers. It has what the original novel did not have: Well developed characters and sub-plots, and I find that Gentry did a fine job at this. For example, this being published in 1989, well before reality TV became the expected norm, he had the idea that the world would be watching this historical event of a small crew exploring this new Rama in real time, assuming that in the twenty third century, we would still be into that sort II: This is the sequel to A. C. Clarke's Rama I, and I think it delivers. It has what the original novel did not have: Well developed characters and sub-plots, and I find that Gentry did a fine job at this. For example, this being published in 1989, well before reality TV became the expected norm, he had the idea that the world would be watching this historical event of a small crew exploring this new Rama in real time, assuming that in the twenty third century, we would still be into that sort of thing). It was unclear to me what A.C. Clarke or Lee actually wrote here though I suspect we are mostly reading Lee's writing based on some plot ideas provided by A.C. Clarke or was it collective brainstorming, and I imagine drafts were approved by Clarke. What I would really like to read, is a companion book by Lee titled "How Clarke and I wrote Rama". Over all, unlike many fine and respected Goodreads reviewers, I liked this novel much more than I expected. Based on the dreadful bits I read of their first collaboration, "Cradle", I had put this off for a decade believing it would certainly be rubbish. However, I can certainly see why it is a love it or hate it sort of thing. I liked it just fine.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Marlon Dean

    A worthwhile book if you enjoyed "Rendezvous with Rama". First, the bad, and there's a fair bit: Rama II is not as good as Rendezvous with Rama, the society is bland, the technological speculation isn't as exciting and the mysteries don't appear until the decidedly more interesting last third (or half, or thereabouts) of the book. When the mysteries do come however, they are just as amazing as in the first book, maybe even more so as the first part of the book, while boring, did a great deal to A worthwhile book if you enjoyed "Rendezvous with Rama". First, the bad, and there's a fair bit: Rama II is not as good as Rendezvous with Rama, the society is bland, the technological speculation isn't as exciting and the mysteries don't appear until the decidedly more interesting last third (or half, or thereabouts) of the book. When the mysteries do come however, they are just as amazing as in the first book, maybe even more so as the first part of the book, while boring, did a great deal to introduce the deep, multi-dimensional characters. If you've read "Rendezvous with Rama" and liked it, stick with this book and read it through to the end, you won't regret it. If you didn't like it (heathen!) or just felt apathetic about it, Rama II will probably bore you.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    The measure of a good book for me is two fold. Is it as good now as it was when I was 12? Do I meet people in real life and compare them back to a book's characters? Or at least that is my measure of a good book right now. This meets both. I could not stop reading this at every opportunity: lunch, breaks, at night. Just as good as when I was a kid. And many many times I have thought that someone reminded me of a person I had only sort of met. And then I remembered that every computer programmer I The measure of a good book for me is two fold. Is it as good now as it was when I was 12? Do I meet people in real life and compare them back to a book's characters? Or at least that is my measure of a good book right now. This meets both. I could not stop reading this at every opportunity: lunch, breaks, at night. Just as good as when I was a kid. And many many times I have thought that someone reminded me of a person I had only sort of met. And then I remembered that every computer programmer I meet makes me think just a little bit of Richard Wakefield. The marketing woman at work is Francesca Sabatini to a tee. And on and on. Incredible. I love Clarke.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Neven

    If you liked Rendezvous with Rama, skip this unless you're the world's biggest fan of Gentry Lee. An almost completely unrelated book, this is filled with third-grade soap opera and constant, petty digressions from Clarke's fascinating ideas. Clarke is not the world's greatest writer and the first Rama book was stilted and nerdy, but it was also ripe with enthusiasm and seriously awe-inspiring ideas. The addition of B-movie drama here doesn't deepen, humanize, or in any way improve Rama; it just If you liked Rendezvous with Rama, skip this unless you're the world's biggest fan of Gentry Lee. An almost completely unrelated book, this is filled with third-grade soap opera and constant, petty digressions from Clarke's fascinating ideas. Clarke is not the world's greatest writer and the first Rama book was stilted and nerdy, but it was also ripe with enthusiasm and seriously awe-inspiring ideas. The addition of B-movie drama here doesn't deepen, humanize, or in any way improve Rama; it just cheapens it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    This is soap opera, not space opera! I skipped over 2/3rds of the book. Start at chapter 25 or so if you want to read about exploring Rama 2, even then, I skipped easily a third of the rest of the book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Osman

    On the front of my edition there is only one quote "Clarke is the finest living writer of science fiction"- well ok so it's technically wrong Clarke being dead but it's also highly misleading as the actual author of this book is this far less renowned Gentry Lee. It is also revealing that this quote is not in praise of this particular book and yet is the only quote on the cover! This book is 90% a Mills and Boon potboilling soap-opera and 9% 1950s Flash Gordon type sci-fi. Only 1% I would suggest On the front of my edition there is only one quote "Clarke is the finest living writer of science fiction"- well ok so it's technically wrong Clarke being dead but it's also highly misleading as the actual author of this book is this far less renowned Gentry Lee. It is also revealing that this quote is not in praise of this particular book and yet is the only quote on the cover! This book is 90% a Mills and Boon potboilling soap-opera and 9% 1950s Flash Gordon type sci-fi. Only 1% I would suggest is worthy of Clarke and that is perhaps the sum total of his input. To give an indication - we get to page 170 (a third part through the book) before we get to Rama. The preceding pages are all about the back story of very many unbeguiling characters- none of which is relevant to the scanty plot. It mostly reads like a boring supermarket `mum's-lit' paperback, you will want to skip through all of this. The journey through space to Rama (distance from earth to Venus) takes less than half a page. The entry to Rama through the air-locks is barely adumbrated on another page. In other words everything you want a ACC novel to be about is excised and replaced with soap-opera type garbage. Why oh why did he team up with this TV producer cum wanabe trash-novelist? It starts to grind forward more in the second half of the book where they explore New York a little but is still ham-strung by the drawn out murder conspiracy sub- plot (which is more like the entire plot of the book). This sub-plot is without tension - the perpetrator fully revealed early on in the book. This perhaps is the main problem- lack of plot- There is nothing which drives the reader forward, nothing that holds you gripped. It is rather a desultory stumble through various unconnected happenings (none of them particularly interesting) and interminable character exegesis (none of which adds one iota to the interest of the wooden characters). Nothing new is revealed about the purpose of Rama; there are no interesting sci-fi ideas beyond Flash Gordon type bugaboos. This situation is unbearable in the course of 500 pages. It makes me wonder how Gentry Lee maintained his own interest in the project over what must have been a considerable writing period. Unfortunately the next in the series `The Garden of Rama' is unbelievably even more risible. Unless you are a speed reader prepared to skip huge chunks this book and it's sequels are best avoided. Content yourself with the original classic `Rendezvous with Rama' because Rama is one mystery you don't want cleared up by Gentry Lee.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Hyzie

    This wasn't as good as the original, but it wasn't as bad as I had heard in a few places. A lot of the issue was that the first one was centered almost exclusively on the mystery of the ship. The characters were so very secondary that you got just enough information to keep them as individuals while reading, honestly. There wasn't really character growth or backstory--they were vehicles for the plot. Don't get me wrong, I don't think that's a bad thing when you have an interesting plot like this- This wasn't as good as the original, but it wasn't as bad as I had heard in a few places. A lot of the issue was that the first one was centered almost exclusively on the mystery of the ship. The characters were so very secondary that you got just enough information to keep them as individuals while reading, honestly. There wasn't really character growth or backstory--they were vehicles for the plot. Don't get me wrong, I don't think that's a bad thing when you have an interesting plot like this--in practice, I wanted to know about Rama much more than I wanted to know about the characters investigating it. I would have appreciated better-developed characters, but I didn't really *need* them. This book goes too far in the other direction. I get better developed characters. I have a solid understanding of who is who and often why they are that way. I get lots of backstory. I get so much backstory that it takes up a huge chunk of the novel and causes serious pacing issues. While I like to hear about characters and love making new book friends, I'm reading this because a strange spaceship has appeared in the sky and I want to know *why* that happened and what it is like. We don't even get to the actual ship until about a third of the way into the novel. I might be more accepting of this if it was a first novel in a series, but as the second, with an entirely new cast of people, it feels very strange. I liked the explanation of what happened to the world between novels and how things are different, though I feel like it could have been conveyed a bit more naturally than in a big info-dump. Honestly, though, I wouldn't have minded the info-dump on that so much if it wasn't followed by a bunch of character-building info-dumping as well. Give me mysterious alien secrets earlier, please! I was not super pleased with the ending, either. Without spoilers, I feel like parts of the story took a dip from sci-fi into fantasy, and while I adore me some fantasy, this felt very out of place and the ending was related to that dip. The last fourth of the book felt a little strange in general. In the end, I feel like this might be a transition for the series into something different? It wasn't terribly done, necessarily, but I'm not sure I want to make the transition with the series, so unless it gets back to the "strange alien artifact!" storyline as the main one, I'm inclined to leave the rest of the series alone.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lee

    Ah, now I remember this book. Contrary to what I said in my review of Rendezvous with Rama I now recall that four years ago I actually read the first three books in this quadrilogy, not just the first two. This book is frightfully dull but not quite bad enough to warrant quitting the series. One of the good things about this book's predecessor is how quickly it gets into the action. The cosmonauts are inside Rama within about ten pages. Here we get a hundred pages of inept character development b Ah, now I remember this book. Contrary to what I said in my review of Rendezvous with Rama I now recall that four years ago I actually read the first three books in this quadrilogy, not just the first two. This book is frightfully dull but not quite bad enough to warrant quitting the series. One of the good things about this book's predecessor is how quickly it gets into the action. The cosmonauts are inside Rama within about ten pages. Here we get a hundred pages of inept character development before they finally reach the spacecraft. All of Gentry Lee's characters are one-dimensional stereotypes of fictional characters. Each of them has to be horrible or lovely, with their actions being over the top so we can't get the two groups muddled. Every other character was abused as a child and that's used either as an excuse for them growing up to be an immoral charlatan or as proof that they have lots of moral fortitude. The book doesn't really add anything to its predecessor, I guess you have to read its two sequels for that. But since The Garden of Rama was bad enough to lead me to stop reading the series three quarters of the way through, I'm not sure it's an experience that I'm going to enjoy.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dave Morris

    Imagine being assigned to use as many pure tropes as possible and to push them as far as you can -- without getting to the point of parody or satire (cause that might be fun). Then you're told to stretch that project to cover as many pages as possible, with the minimum actual plot progression. That project would be Rama II. Imagine being assigned to use as many pure tropes as possible and to push them as far as you can -- without getting to the point of parody or satire (cause that might be fun). Then you're told to stretch that project to cover as many pages as possible, with the minimum actual plot progression. That project would be Rama II.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    When this first came out I thought, oh no, not a sequel! Leave well enough alone! Well, what a treat this one was. More Rama, and even creepier than the original.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Dehoff

    The sequel to Rendevous with Rama sees a new Raman spacecraft appearing in the solar system seventy years later, and a crew going to investigate it. Lee, a scientist who worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and did much of the writing here, has a very different style from Clarke, focusing more on character intrigue than on hard science fiction. Although not obvious at first, the main character turns out to be Nicole des Jardins, the life science officer who has flashbacks to her spirit quest The sequel to Rendevous with Rama sees a new Raman spacecraft appearing in the solar system seventy years later, and a crew going to investigate it. Lee, a scientist who worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and did much of the writing here, has a very different style from Clarke, focusing more on character intrigue than on hard science fiction. Although not obvious at first, the main character turns out to be Nicole des Jardins, the life science officer who has flashbacks to her spirit quest and affair with the Prince of Wales. I think the most notable character might have been Francesca Sabatini, the backstabbing journalist who wants to eliminate some of her fellow crew members for...some reason? I'm not entirely sure what her motivation was, other than fame and fortune. And there's a fair amount of sex, although to be fair, I guess being stuck on a spaceship together for a long time would pretty much inevitably result in hook-ups. But yeah, the characters weren't that interesting, and since they were much of the focus, it made the book more of a slog than the first. And the actual visits to Rama seemed like kind of a retread anyway. I was also a little bothered that the colonies on other planets had apparently failed in between the two books, when the interplanetary politics were pretty interesting in Rendevzous.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Katrine Austin

    Updated review 8/4/2020 - rereading this still had a lot of allure to it, mostly in the back half of the book (front half of the book felt more dated with interpersonal drama and social commentary of the late 80's). Midway through this book I thought I'd be done with Rama...but now at the end of it I clearly must keep reading this series because it seems book 3 will be all about the Ramans and 3 humans on their stellar journey and I can't recall much about that! Original review July 2020 Plowed t Updated review 8/4/2020 - rereading this still had a lot of allure to it, mostly in the back half of the book (front half of the book felt more dated with interpersonal drama and social commentary of the late 80's). Midway through this book I thought I'd be done with Rama...but now at the end of it I clearly must keep reading this series because it seems book 3 will be all about the Ramans and 3 humans on their stellar journey and I can't recall much about that! Original review July 2020 Plowed through this series in high school, loved it...almost so I might go back and re-read now that I'm tripping across these again through Goodreads. Fun fact - I never put together back in the early 90's reading these that the first book was actually written when I was born in the 70's. Say what? (Although in my defense - the last book which triggered the full series read, WAS published in 1993.)

  30. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is the worst sequel I've ever read. Rama II takes the setting of the first book, tears it up, and replaces it with a stereotyped vision of the 1989 "present." The interesting politics of RWR's solar system are destroyed via an incredible financial panic that eradicates all non-Earth societies, despite the fact that most of the mineral and energy wealth of the solar system in RWR came from self-sufficient planetary colonies. There's no mention of the USSR in the first book, but in Rama II the This is the worst sequel I've ever read. Rama II takes the setting of the first book, tears it up, and replaces it with a stereotyped vision of the 1989 "present." The interesting politics of RWR's solar system are destroyed via an incredible financial panic that eradicates all non-Earth societies, despite the fact that most of the mineral and energy wealth of the solar system in RWR came from self-sufficient planetary colonies. There's no mention of the USSR in the first book, but in Rama II there are suddenly Soviets, who mysteriously drink bottles of Ukranian vodka that, by tradition, contain worms that are said to grant the lucky imbiber supernatural powers (I have no idea why this is transposed from mezcal to vodka, and I'm not sure the author does, either). The ship in the first book has a crew of genetically engineered chimps that speak a simplified sign language called Simplish, but in RII characters are amazed that dolphins show signs of intelligence. The first book has the free-wheeling sexuality of a lot of 60s/70s scifi--the captain has two wives on different planets, but that doesn't stop him from engaging in the post-mission orgy!--but in RII, sexual mores are exactly the same as the late 1980s, with institutional homophobia and ubiquitous monogamy. The societal transformation is utterly implausible. You would think that giving the characters more personality than RWR's blankly competent spacemen would be a mark in RII's favor, but you would be wrong; the cast is uniformly awful. One of the main characters, an Italian journalist, is a misogynistic caricature of ambitious women so egregious that I almost quit the book before the characters even got to Rama (the first TWENTY-FIVE PERCENT of the book is spent on Earth, which is totally overrun with RDA [Really Dumb Acronyms]). This Awful Woman uses her sexual wiles to seduce multiple men (including a black man, canonically defined as one of the least intelligent members of the expedition, who dies first, but don't worry--he's got a big dick)! She drugs them to control their actions! She preys upon their ambition so that she can achieve power! She is literally compared to Lady Macbeth in the text by other characters (the author seems worried that this book won't be taken seriously, so he makes sure to include inane references to Shakespeare and Dunne so you can know this is Adult Literature)! She feels like a too-revealing window into the author's psyche! To be fair, the main character is also a woman: the daughter of an African queen who became an Olympic athlete/doctor and had a brief affair with the king of England. So the book is full of realistic human depictions. Things get marginally more interesting once the book's focus switches from the politics of Stupid Future 1989 to exploring the alien ark, and the shift from the first book's optimism to semi-horror is kind of interesting, but on the whole this section of the book, too, is much weaker than RWR, and at times totally technically infeasible; I don't care if Richard Wakefield is one of the smartest dudes on Earth, he is not going to hack a seemingly-magical alien computer system in a matter of days. RWR had excellent physics--waterfalls bending due to the Coriolis effect!--but in RII, amongst other snafus, robots in zero gravity are described as 'skipping'; HTF does that work, Gentry Lee? There's also a hard break towards mysticism, with magical dreams and religious visions granting supernatural awareness of far-off events. A surprisingly large portion of the book is dedicated to exploring the life of a fictional saint; this literal hagiography again feels like a weird peek into the author's subconscious. The prose sucks. Anyway, I wasn't really a fan of Rama II.

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