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Rendezvous with Rama - Arthur C Clarke NEW Book

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Rendezvous with Rama - Arthur C Clarke NEW Book

Rendezvous with Rama - Arthur C. Clarke - NEW Book

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The "Rama" of the title is an alien star ship, initially mistaken for an asteroid and named after the king Rama who is considered to be the seventh avatar of the Hindu God Vishnu (Clarke mentions that by the 22nd century, scientists have used the names of all the Greek and Roman mythological figures to name astronomical bodies, and have thus moved on to Hindu mythology). Asteroid 31/439 is detected by astronomers in the year 2130 while still outside the orbit of Jupiter. The object's speed (100 000 km/h) and the angle of its trajectory clearly indicate that this is not an object on a long orbit around our sun; it comes from interstellar space. Astronomers' interest is piqued when they realize that this asteroid not only has an extremely rapid 4 minute rotation period but it is quite large in size for an asteroid. An unmanned space probe dubbed Sita is launched from the Mars moon Phobos, and photographs taken during its rapid flyby reveal that Rama is a mathematically perfect cylinder, 20 kilometers in diameter and 50 kilometers long, made of a highly featureless material. In other words, this is humankind's first encounter with an alien space ship.

The manned solar survey vessel Endeavour is sent to study Rama, as it is the only ship close enough to do so in the brief period of time Rama will spend in our solar system. Endeavour manages to rendezvous with Rama one month after the space ship first comes to Earth's attention, when the giant alien spacecraft already is within Venus' orbit. The 20+ crew, led by Commander Norton, enters Rama and explores the vast cylindrical world of its interior, but the nature and purpose of the starship and its creators remains enigmatic throughout the book. The only lifeforms are the cybernetic "biots" who completely ignore the humans. After several adventures and misadventures, including a 1 gigaton nuclear missile fired from Mercury with the intent of destroying Rama, Endeavour is finally forced to leave a few weeks later as Rama moves too close to the Sun for Endeavour's cooling systems to compensate. Rama then is flung out of the solar system toward an unknown location in the Large Magellanic Cloud, using the Sun's gravitational field as a slingshot.

The interior of Rama is essentially a large cylindrical landscape, dubbed 'The Central Plain' by the crew, 16 kilometers wide and nearly 50 long, with artificial gravity provided by its spin. It is split into the 'northern' and 'southern' hemispheres, divided in the middle by an expanse of water the astronauts dub the 'Cylindrical Sea'. In the center of the Cylindrical Sea is an island of unknown purpose covered in tall, skyscraper-like structures, which the astronauts name 'New York' due to an imagined similarity to Manhattan. At each end of the ship are North and South "Poles". The North Pole is effectively the bow and the South Pole the stern, as Rama is traveling in the direction of the North Pole and its drive system is at the South Pole. The North Pole contains Rama's airlocks, and is where the Endeavour lands. The airlocks open into the hub of the massive bowl shaped cap at the North Pole, with three massive 8-kilometer long stair systems dubbed Alpha, Beta, and Gamma by the crew leading to the plain. The Northern hemisphere contains several small 'towns' interconnected by roads, dubbed London, Paris, Peking, Tokyo, Rome, and Moscow. The South Pole has a giant cone-shaped protrusion, surrounded by six smaller ones, which are probably the main reactors of Rama's inertialess drive. The southern hemisphere consists of hundreds of small square-kilometer regions filled with various things, such as hollow tubes, collections of diamond, and empty plowed fields.

Both ends of Rama are lit by six giant trenches (three in the northern hemisphere and three in the south), equidistantly placed around the cylinder, effectively functioning as giant strip lighting.

About the Author Arthur C Clarke

Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, CBE (16 December 1917–19 March 2008) was a British science fiction author, inventor, and futurist, most famous for the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, written in collaboration with director Stanley Kubrick, a collaboration which led also to the film of the same name; and as a host and commentator in the British television series Mysterious World.

Clarke served in the Royal Air Force as a radar instructor and technician from 1941-1946, proposed satellite communication systems in 1945 which won him the Franklin Institute Stuart Ballantine Gold Medal in 1963 and a nomination in 1994 for a Nobel Prize, and 1999 for literature , and became the chairman of the British Interplanetary Society from 1947-1950 and again in 1953. Later, he helped fight for the preservation of lowland gorillas. He won the UNESCO-Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science in 1961.

Clarke was knighted in 1998. He emigrated to Sri Lanka in 1956 largely to pursue his interest in scuba diving, and lived there until his death.

Biography

Clarke was born in Minehead, Somerset, England.As a boy he enjoyed stargazing and reading old American science fiction pulp magazines. After secondary school and studying at Huish's Grammar School, Taunton, he was unable to afford a university education and got a job as an auditor in the pensions section of the Board of Education.

During the Second World War he served in the Royal Air Force as a radar specialist and was involved in the early warning radar defence system, which contributed to the RAF's success during the Battle of Britain. Clarke spent most of his wartime service working on Ground Controlled Approach (GCA) radar as documented in the semi-autobiographical Glide Path, his only non-science-fiction novel. Although GCA did not see much practical use in the war, it proved vital to the Berlin Airlift of 1948–1949 after several years of development. Clarke initially served in the ranks, and was a Corporal instructor on radar at No 9 Radio School, RAF Yatesbury. He was commissioned as a Pilot Officer (Technical Branch) on 27 May 1943. He was promoted Flying Officer on 27 November 1943. He was appointed chief training instructor at RAF Honiley and was demobilised with the rank of Flight Lieutenant. After the war he earned a first-class degree in mathematics and physics at King's College London.In the postwar years, Clarke became the chairman of the British Interplanetary Society from 1947-1950 and again in 1953. Although he was not the originator of the concept of geostationary satellites, one of his most important contributions may be his idea that they would be ideal telecommunications relays. He advanced this idea in a paper privately circulated among the core technical members of the BIS in 1945. The concept was published in Wireless World in October of that year. Clarke also wrote a number of non-fiction books describing the technical details and societal implications of rocketry and space flight. The most notable of these may be The Exploration of Space (1951) and The Promise of Space (1968). In recognition of these contributions the geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometres (22,000 mi) above the equator is officially recognized by the International Astronomical Union as a Clarke Orbit.

In 1953 Clarke met and quickly married Marilyn Mayfield, a 22-year-old American divorcee with a young son. They separated permanently after six months, although the divorce was not finalised until 1964. "The marriage was incompatible from the beginning", says Clarke. Clarke never remarried but was close to Leslie Ekanayake, who died in 1977. Journalists who inquired of Clarke whether he was gay were told, "No, merely mildly cheerful." However, Michael Moorcock has written. Everyone knew he was gay. In the 1950s I'd go out drinking with his boyfriend. We met his proteges, western and eastern, and their families: people who had only the most generous praise for his kindness. Self-absorbed he might be, and a teetotaller, but an impeccable gent through and through. It also exists a vast collection of manuscripts and personal memoirs written by Clarke, referred to as the "Clarkives", which will not be published before 2058, 50 years after his death.

Writing career

While Clarke had a few stories published in fanzines, between 1937 and 1945, his first professional sales appeared in Astounding Science Fiction in 1946: "Loophole" was published in April, while "Rescue Party", his first sale, was published in May. Along with his writing Clarke briefly worked as Assistant Editor of Science Abstracts (1949) before devoting himself to writing full-time from 1951 onward. Clarke also contributed to the Dan Dare series published in Eagle, and his first three published novels were written for children. Clarke corresponded with C. S. Lewis in the 1940s and 1950s and they once met in an Oxford pub, The Eastgate, to discuss science fiction and space travel. Clarke, after Lewis's death, voiced great praise for him, saying the Ransom Trilogy was one of the few works of science fiction that could be considered literature.

In 1948 he wrote "The Sentinel" for a BBC competition. Though the story was rejected it changed the course of Clarke's career. Not only was it the basis for A Space Odyssey, but "The Sentinel" also introduced a more mystical and cosmic element to Clarke's work. Many of Clarke's later works feature a technologically advanced but prejudiced mankind being confronted by a superior alien intelligence. In the cases of The City and the Stars (and its original version, Against the Fall of Night), Childhood's End, and the 2001 series, this encounter produces a conceptual breakthrough that accelerates humanity into the next stage of its evolution. In Clarke's authorized biography, Neil McAleer writes that: "many readers and critics still consider [Childhood's End] Arthur C. Clarke's best novel."

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