“Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe, or we are not. Both are equally terrifying”Arthur C. Clarke
In this vast Universe with trillions of stars, which have existed for billions of years, are we the only ones alive? If not, where are the others? Why aren’t they contacting us? Are we all alone in this Universe?
If you have ever had these kinds of thoughts, then you are going to love the Rama book series. This series includes four books: Rendezvous with Rama, Rama II, The Garden of Rama, and Rama Revealed. And I’m going to talk about all these four books. Don’t worry; This is a spoiler-free review, so feel free to read on!
So, what exactly is Rama?
How would you feel if you saw a giant cylinder coming at you while looking at the sky? That’s precisely how the people on Earth felt when they first discovered Rama.
The book starts in the year 2177, when an asteroid impacts northern Italy, killing 600,000 and wiping out priceless cultural artifacts. This was the largest destruction the world has ever seen.
To never happen something like this again, humans created a machine called SPACEGUARD to identify and track every single object in our Solar System. This way, no meteorite large enough to cause catastrophe would ever be allowed to breach the defenses of Earth again.
In the year 2130, SPACEGUARD detects the approach of a new unknown object from extrasolar space. At first, only a few things are known about this celestial object. It is huge, weighing more than ten trillion tons. And it is moving through the solar system at an incredible speed. Then a space satellite confirms the unthinkable: This is not a natural object. Humankind is about to get a very large unexpected guest.
By this time, humans had discovered so many stars that they ran out of Greek god names to name them. So they began using Hindu God names. That’s how this giant flying cylinder got the name Rama.
By the 22nd century, human technology was so advanced that they had managed to colonize most planets like Mars and Neptune in the solar system, including the moon. They even formed a council of united planets.
Now, no one knew who the Ramans were or why they had come. Humans had so many questions. And we are so terrified of the unknown.
So, the People of the united planets decided to send a crew to explore this strange spaceship. This is what we get to read in the first book. How they explored this giant cylinder, and what they found.
While reading this book, you could actually feel the strange, exciting feeling of discovering a brand-new world. Honestly, I felt like an astronomical adventurer on a journey of unending wonders.
We get to experience many exciting things like places incomprehensive to the human mind, strange robots, and exceptional environmental phenomena. But even with these explorations, the crew couldn’t find any answers to their questions.
Where did this spaceship come from? Where is it headed? Who was the creator of this giant spaceship? Was it only a coincidence that we came across this spaceship? Or was this encounter intentionally arranged by someone? None of them were answered yet.
In the end, Rama exits the solar system, but the only thing the crew is able to learn is that the creators of Rama, whomever they might be, design everything in a trinity.
Strictly speaking, Rendezvous with Rama is just a prequel to the mind-blowing story yet to come.
The Second Ship
About 70 years after this incident, in 2200 AD, a second Rama ship was found coming toward the solar system. By this time, humans had gradually destroyed themselves to the point of losing all the colonies on the outer planets. Only the planet Earth was habited by humans.
Nevertheless, the world leaders decided not to lose this chance to explore the unknown alien civilization. So, they sent another team of astronauts to investigate Rama II.
The most surprising thing they discovered in the Rama II is the existence of intelligent extra-terrestrial beings.
This team’s experience during the second expedition was slightly different from the first group. One could even say it got quite horrific and violent. Three expedition group members even died while investigating this giant spaceship.
The leaders of the Earth tried to destroy Rama with nuclear weapons out of fear. But the great intelligence controlling the ship managed to stop this attack, and once again, the spaceship left the solar system. But this time, Rama took three crew members as its passengers.
But still, no one was able to unravel the tangled web of mysteries hidden inside Rama.
The third Rama book, The Garden of Rama, is all about the experiences of the three human passengers on this vast flying planet. And it’s about time we find out who exactly the main character is in this book series. Who is that you might ask? The only way you could learn this is from the book, so I recommend you read it. (wink)
Anyway, the three abducted astronauts discover that the second Rama is a spaceship that takes different extra-terrestrial creatures to a destination unknown to humans.
They meet other creatures while onboard and realize they are also passengers, just like them. The ship took 13 long years to reach its destination. The robots onboard took care of all the basic needs, like the passengers’ food.
Oh, did I say they were traveling at half the speed of light? Yeah.
After reaching the destination, they were taken to another massive spaceship, or more accurately, a space station. Here, the humans, as well as us readers, can finally learn the truth about Rama.
These spaceships, we called Rama, were created by a very highly advanced race of beings to study the other civilizations throughout the Universe. They are making a list of all the intelligent beings of the Universe. And guess what. Humans are at the lower end of that list.
The first Rama ship is just a scout ship sent to identify and observe other races. The task of the second ship is to bring samples of other beings. The humans learn that there is a third ship ready to set sail soon to take a large portion of beings from each civilization to study more closely.
With the promise of not harming the people who come with them, one of our main characters agrees to help these beings, returns to planet earth, and successfully brings about two-thousand humans to the 3rd Rama ship.
By the way, it took another 50 or so years to return to Earth. Read the book, and you will understand how they lived for that long.
The Human Nature
From here on out, you will start to realize the depth of this carefully crafted masterpiece of a book. Why do I say that? Hereafter, you will realize that humans are not the perfect creatures we keep hoping ourselves to be. The fundamental nature of humans is much darker and sinister, just as low as the mindless animals in a jungle.
We, humans, are a race of selfish creatures who are perfectly fine to cause pain and suffering to other harmless beings without even a hint of aggression just for their own egotistical reasons. And we don’t even stop there; we could easily betray one of our own just for the sake of our greed.
You’ll begin to understand humans’ crude, disgusting nature as you keep reading this book. The question in the title of this article, do human beings really deserve to exist, inevitably arises in our mind at this point.
That’s precisely the thing revealed in the final book of this series, Rama Revealed.
What exactly is the destination of these passengers? Why don’t the creators of Rama ever intervene with the quarrels of Rama inhibitors? Yeah, there was even a war on the ship with other alien races.
The truth is that the Rama ships are a part of a big experiment. The Rama creators intend to observe the taken beings in their somewhat natural habitat and identify their real nature. And then they decide if they really deserve to live, to exist. The decision itself does not affect the humans on Earth, but the lives of Rama passengers depend on this. So, what is their conclusion? That, too, will be revealed in the book, so you better read it if you are curious.
This story may make you dislike or even hate humans, and it sure makes you ponder some heavy philosophical questions, but it has many fun parts too. I guarantee that you can expect to experience rebels trying to overthrow a cruel dictator, epic wars between humans, never seen civilizations of extra-terrestrials, and even love stories that exceed the laws of time and space. So, why are you still waiting? Start reading, my fellow reader; Rama is waiting for you.
By the way, If you like to read quotes, I have pulled together some of the best quotes from Rama series. You can read them here. Best Quotes from Rendezvous with Rama.
So this is my review on Rendezvous with Rama. I hope you enjoyed this reading. If you have read this, please leave a comment down below I would love to read your take on this. If you are planning to read this, I believe this review has helped you motivated you to start reading Rama.
Thank you for reading & see you soon with another article.