Rendezvous with Utopia: Two Versions of the Future in the Rama Novels
journal contributionposted on 21.05.2017 by Russell Blackford
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Published in 1973, Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama won the Hugo, Nebula, and John W. Campbell Awards (and also the Jupiter Award, voted on by the Institute of Science Fiction in Higher Education). Its impressive collection of awards, outstanding commercial success, and intrinsic interest make it one of the few truly iconic works of hard science fiction. It depicts the work of astronauts in space, and shows an obvious concern for scientific accuracy and logic. In all, Rendezvous with Rama seems like an unlikely candidate for a utopian novel, and that expression would, in-deed, misdescribe it. Yet, it contains strong mythic, satirical, and utopian elements, which give it much of its interest.
Alas, many of those elements are discarded in the trilogy of novels that appeared much later as an extended sequel to the novel's action.