And today we have more of my re-read of Rendezvous with Rama. Previous posts are elsewhere on this website, but beware that spoilers (to the extent that a book published in 1973 can be spoiled) abound.
Chapter twenty-seven opens with Jimmy Pak beginning his return from the far end of Rama in the Dragonfly. He has not made much progress before he notices an electrical field and the beginnings of a thunderstorm, of sorts, at the small spikes (Little Horns as they are referred to). There is a lot of turbulence and, eventually, flame from the Big Horn that reaches to each of the smaller ones. A concussive burst of wind hits him.
The following chapter continues immediately on from the last with the Dragonfly being damaged and Jimmy falling (very, very slowly) to the surface of the southern part of Rama. (I can’t stress the ‘slowly’ part enough, it takes the whole, short chapter.)
Chapter 29 begins with Jimmy regaining consciousness. A creature is dismantling the now-destroyed Dragonfly. He initially cannot tell whether it is an animal or robot. The creature, which he dubs a crab, then leaves in the direction of the Cylindrical Sea with the debris. Jimmy follows. The crab dumps the remainder of the Dragonfly down a deep well-like structure, but ignores Jimmy. Looking into the hole, Jimmy sees other, different creatures.
The exclusive focus on Jimmy and the Dragonfly and his solo exploration of the southern continent of Rama over these last several chapters is a departure in the structure of the book, which before this goes roughly back and forth between Norton and the rest of the crew in Rama and the committee and doesn’t focus on any particular person. Prior to this, as well, the point of view on Rama is almost always Norton.
The departure is an interesting one, because it provides more specific detail about the experience of Rama from a particular perspective than had previously been provided. There is also more character development of Jimmy than other characters receive.
The introduction of a creature, whether organic or robot, is also significant, of course, and changes the feel of the story. The presumed sterility of Rama had already been challenged by the storms and the organic content of the Cylindrical Sea, but the presence of a larger creature takes that to another level of complexity.