3-18-08 Rendezvous with Rama
Posted by Sean on March 18, 2008
We mark today the passing of Arthur C. Clarke, who died today at age 90 in Sri Lanka.
It’s so strange to write those words. Other science fiction authors – Robert Heinlein, Isaac Isamov, Poul Anderson – have died. But Clarke just kept chugging along, despite violence in his adopted home of Sri Lanka, despite the 2004 tsunami, despite everything, it seemed. Hell, after I heard he was alive after the tsunami, I was convinced the guy was immortal, bullet-proof.
Clarke was part of a very close circle of friends I had when I was growing up. I had a lot of emotional problems growing up (still do). Books by Clarke and others gave me solace and escape. They gave me something to look forward to or at least excitement and fulfillment, things of desperate scarcity for an asthmatic, nearsighted and very lonely little kid.
I couldn’t not mark the death of Clarke, any more than I could have not marked the death of any friend.
So your neat thing today is a tribute to my favorite Clarke story of all, Rendezvous with Rama.
There’s no real story to Rendezvous with Rama: some astronauts land on a 50-by-16 kilometer O’Neill cylinder in space, they poke around, weird stuff happens and then the cylinder leaves for parts unknown. If you haven’t read it, you’d never understand why I love it so much: the pains he took to get the tech right, the atmosphere of sheer indifferent alienness that Clarke conjured and, like any alien contact would, how it created more questions than answers.
These movies capture some of that. Or they have “Rama” in the title. Either way, I like them.
Your first neat thing, put up by vladikoff, is a short student film directed by Aaron M. Ross. It’s done like a trailer for a Rendevous with Rama feature movie, and it’s a pitch-perfect adaptation of the Endeavour crew’s first glimpse of the inside of Rama. (And if the proposed Morgan Freeman/David Fincher Rendevous with Rama movie is anything like this, then I’ll be at the theatre with bells on)
Moving inside Rama, you’d see something like your next neat thing, which is titled A 3D view of Rama object on YouTube and put up by Delfwaren. It’s a 3D flyover by Eric Bruneton of the inside of Rama, and it’s got a lot of details right: the drive horns on the far side of the cylinder, the Cylindrical Sea and the “cities” and chopped-up land on the far side of the sea. It’s not quite as alien and geometrical as I’d want but, hey, it’s good CGI and it has nice music. By the way, this movie is available for download in AVI format at Bruneton’s site.
This is an alternative version of Rama’s interior. It’s shorter and done in much lower resolution, but I think it’s more faithful to the book. Thanks to monomorph1 for putting this up.
Oh, and if you want to go tromping around in Rama right now, you might want to consider the 1984 Spinnaker game of the same name, available for free download at Stephan’s Retrocomputing Site here.
Finally… just who is this Rama character? Turns out he’s an incarnation of Vishnu (the probe that first spots Rama in the book, incidentally, is named after Rama’s wife Sita). You can get the skinny at About.com’s Hinduism site.