Rendezvous with Rama, chapters 42-46

And this post wraps up my Rendezvous with Rama re-read. You can read my previous posts here if you’d like, spoilers, etc, etc (to the extent that you can spoil a book that came out in the 70s). I’m going to do a summary post of highlights soon, too.

Chapter 42 has Norton and other crew members re-enter Rama and ‘break in’ to one of the buildings in the area they have been referring to as London. Inside, they find large, glass floor-to-ceiling cylinders, inside of which are images/holograms of various objects. After some consideration, they decide it is most likely a catalogue of 3D templates/solid blueprints and that the Ramans build/construct things as they need them (as with the biots). There is a nice analogue in this to 3D printing.

The crew take pictures of the objects in the cylinders, amongst which they find something that appears to be armour of a sort and seems to indicate a being 2.5 metres tall with three arms (and presumably legs).

They are then called out of the building because the lights in Rama are turning off.

Chapter 43 details the quick return to their ship by Norton and the others as the interior of Rama undergoes a variety of changes. The lights are dimming slowly, Rama is slightly re-orienting itself.

Then the lights begin to run towards the Cylindrical Sea and the biots follow them, where they go over the edge to be taken apart by the ‘sharks’ in the Sea. Once the biots are all gone, the lights go back to normal, dimming more as Norton gets one last look before leaving Rama.

In Chapter 44, having left Rama, the ship moves away, still watching Rama as it continues to make manoeuvres (which are explained in great detail!). Eventually Rama begins to accelerate, but without any of how, and, instead of then slowing down in order to move into an orbit around the sun, it continues its acceleration.

Chapter 45 continues with the crew watching as Rama continues to accelerate and, reaching incredible speed as it approaches very close to the sun, gains a protective cocoon or bubble. It picks up still more speed, and appears to be gaining matter or energy from the sun before continuing onwards, eventually breaking from the ecliptic, headed perhaps to the Greater Magellanic Cloud.

The final chapter, forty-six, Chapter 46 wraps things up with Norton and Laura on the ship as they make their way back towards Earth, the Moon, and Mars. Norton has received the permission he sought for another child with his wife on Mars (this includes a brief explanation about how spacemen are sterilized and sperm warehoused because of the certainty of radiation-caused damage, nothing about women is mentioned. Norton flirts with Laura, as there are allusions to end of mission sexual encounters between crew.

And finally, Norton thinks about how he has peaked in life experience now, even though he is not that old.

The final image of the story is a very brief switch to one of the Earth-based experts previously mentioned, who suddenly wakes to the thought of how everything the Ramans do comes in threes. (duh duh)

As I said, I’m going to go through all these posts and synthesize the writing lessons I’ve noted. Overall, though, I really noticed my own tendencies in this book. I’ve read it countless times and I clearly absorbed certain things!

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