The Garden of Rama by Arthur C. Clarke and Gentry Lee
When the second Raman ship entered Earth’s Solar System, the governments on Earth tried to destroy it. At the end of Rama II, they thought they had achieved their goals. Instead, three of the cosmonauts were still alive on the alien ship as it left the Solar System.
Nicole des Jardins, Richard Wakefield, and Michael O’Toole are in an environmentally protected section of Rama where they learn to live as the spaceship speeds away to…where? They make new lives for themselves, Nicole and Richard marry. At the beginning of this novel, Simone Wakefield is born. They continue. At times different members of the group explore more areas of Rama. They learn to interact with the biots on the ship. They are taught how to deep sleep against accelerating and decelerating forces of the ship. The ship leaves Earth’s Solar System and keeps going. Finally, many years later, they reach the ship’s final destination. They had been amazed at the construct Rama. Now there is so much more to learn and comprehend. The family also learns what is to be their fate…
Throughout Rendezvous with Rama and Rama II, the reader wonders about the beings who built the ships. What is the purpose of the ships? What are their creators like? What is their future impact, if any, on Earth’s future? This novel answers those questions.
This saga is not as powerful as the first two books. It is divided into three sections – the trip out of the Solar System, the time spent at the Raman space dock, and the fulfillment of the purpose of the ship for humans. The authors attempt to make the feel of the vastness and knowledge of the alien science real. Yet this book turns into a very human book by the end. Although this builds on the first two books, it stands alone. The first two are not necessary to complete it, and it is not necessary to complete the first two. Like the first two, it ends with as many or more questions than it answers. Unlike the first two, it is not a compelling read. I had no trouble putting it down for a few weeks while I was doing some other reading, then resuming where I left off. The first half seemed to drag on. By the last third the writing picked up and I was more involved again.