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The two different yet related conflicts in the book are well chosen. The struggle between man vs. machine on board the Discovery is similar to the conflict of man's insatiable curiosity vs. the vastness of space. Human beings have always been longing for contact with another race of beings, and this first contact is described flawlessly by Arthur C. Clarke. Clarke also portrays the worst case scenario of modern technology: a computer that is capable of malice and has control over human lives.
All in all, this book is one of science fiction's best and a must-read, whether you've seen the movie or not.
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First, it is important to undrestand that "Darkness at Noon" is semi-biographical. The experiences involved seem to indicate tha the main character is in truth the Russian intellectual Bukharin, whom Lenin had wanted to succeed himself. Physically speaking, the main character resembles Trotsky. It's likely that these resemblances suggest that Russian socialism could perhaps have worked better under a leader other than Stalin.
The common perception that Koestler was demonstrating the "evils" of communism is naive and rather unperceptive. Koestler believed hat Russian communism ultimately failed as a system because it failed to address the spiritual side of man. The "new man" created by their social structure devoid of traditional bourgeoise moral value was abominable.
The movement inspires a complete commitment to it; so much, that one sacrifices oneself for the greater good. The individual is completely lost here. Koestler ultimately determines that this is unethical, that progressive "history" is unworthy of the sacrifice of millions of individual lives.
But are these flaws latent in communism within the specific context of the novel? Probably not. Koestler was a great critic of Stalin and Utopianism... but it's doubtful he would have considered communism "evil" or have attempted to expose it as such.
Much of the book tells the story of Rubashov's life through flashbacks. It tells of his work for the party, offering harsh evidence of the communist principal that the end justifies the means. This principal, along with several others, is examined and referenced throughout the book. Koestler offers much social commentary on communism, man's nature, and his historical plight. Overall, the book is bleak and depressing. Dark images such as the suicide of a dockworker who cannot understand the changing position of the party, the torture and execution of Rubashov's secretary, and the condemnation of a faithful but misguided communist youth pervade Darkness at Noon.
In just over 200 pages, Koestler offers philosophy, history, and fascinating characterization.
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You and Sherlock Holmes get to discover all the clues of Charles Baskerville's mysterious death and protect Henry Baskerville from being murdered. You listen to stories of the notorious hound. Finally, before its too late, decide who is behind the murder of Charles Baskerville. Was it the baronet, Mr. And Mrs. Stapleton, or was it possibly Laura Lynes? Find out in the end.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle keeps you in suspense throughout the book. He keeps bringing in more leads to the story. The author also provides an interesting and intriguing topic with a tall tale creature tied in.
This book is wonderful and would be best appreciated by all readers 10 and up.
Dover's no-frills approach (generic jackets, inexpensive paper) belies the classic range of their thrift editions, and this is one of my favorites: Conan Doyle's best-known Sherlock Holmes adventure, genuinely chilling and moody. If you haven't read it in a long while, you might have forgotten how well-drawn and detailed this is. Conan Doyle's characters, dialogue, cliffhangers (Chapter Two's end is, in my opinion, one of English lit's best example of suspenseful cliffhangers that will have you flipping the page), setting and the suspenseful climax have made this a mystery classic for over a hundred years. If you're familiar only with Nigel Bruce's humorous but bumbling portrayal of Doctor Watson, you'll enjoy the *true* Watson of the novel...intelligent man of action, trusted by Holmes to investigate the scene ahead of him.
The price makes this an excellent gift (aw, at this price, go ahead and pick them up a few more Dover Thrift editions, including 'Six Great Sherlock Holmes Stories') or a great book to take on a trip (at this price, you can afford to give it away to a fellow traveler when you've finished).
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In the 22nd century, the asteroid detecting system SPACEGUARD detects what at first looks like a very strange looking asteroid entering the solar system and heading towards the sun. A space probe sent to investigate discovers the "asteroid" to be really a gigantic cylindrical space vessel. The crew of the spaceship "Endezvour" is sent to investigate the alien spacecraft dubbed "Rama".
Clarke paints such a vivid picture of the inside of Rama, that I could almost see it with my own eyes. The three ladders extending from the center of Rama into seeming infinity, the view of the cylindrical sea, the large empty "cities", all vividly described. Also, I really liked Clarke's description of Rama coming to life. The way Rama starts off in darkness, then the lights come on, the cylindrical sea melts, and the "biots" start rearing their heads.
Clarke doesn't forget about the issue of gravity in space, something many science fiction writers leave out. Rama rotates, giving the inside of the ship a sort of artificial gravity. As you climb down the ladder from the center of the ship, the gravity increases from zero to normal. It's nice to have a science fiction novel with some science in it, something Clarke's novels always have.
Appropriately, Clarke doesn't reveal everything about Rama, leaving a sense of mystery much like he did at the end of "2001".
The characters aren't drawn vividly, a frequent complaint by Clarke detractors, but this didn't bother me. We're here to explore Rama, not the characters. This book is a great read for any lover of science fiction or Arthur C. Clarke. Beware of the sequels co-written by Gentry Lee.
This book had an excellent plot; it is simply the best extra-terrestrial contact book I've ever read... The only book that compares to it is 'Childhood's End', also written by Arthur C. Clark. I won't discuss the plot as Amazon has already provided a beautiful description of the book.
There was only one problem with the book - It's too short and static. Each chapter has an average length of 8 pages, and the pages are rather small, so even though I loved the book, I kept wishing that there was more to read...
The Bottom Line: If you're looking for a book to relieve your mind of the stress in your life, Rendevous With Rama is an excellent book to spend your hours... Just make sure your boss doesn't catch you reading it! Heh heh... -Aragorn
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The science of this book was obviously well researched and, in many cases, is still applicable today. This adds a reality that much of the science fiction of the past years lacks. It really adds to the story.
The story itself is a pleasure to read. Many questions raised in the first installment of the series are answered in this book in such a way as to increase speculation instead of quell it. I am very fond of his choice. Clarke appears to really want his readers to think about what they read, and I enjoy that opportunity.
I don't agree with the author in that he chose to remain loyal to the movie instead of the book. The location is changed and I find Saturn much more interesting than Jupiter. However, the story flows freely from one to the other, and anyone who has read or seen either the book or the movie will find no trouble accepting this book.
Although I don't like everything in it, I enjoyed this book and have no trouble recomending it.
The characters are very believable, with a few good lines from Max. "'Not to worry,' said Max cheerfully. 'All that will be gone when you wake up. It's--what do you say?--expendables. We'll eat your room empty by the time you need it. I promise.' He patted his stomach." (pg. 31) The plot develops quite rapidly, with strange new conflicts in every section. The author also gives excellent descriptions of what could be true behind many planets' and moons' secrets. "The core of Jupiter, forever beyond human reach, was a diamond as big as the Earth." (pg. 190)
Clarke tells the story very well, and everything seems to flow evenly, quite the contrary to my expectations. This book is never boring, and will keep you reading until your eyes bleed (or you finish the book, which ever comes first). The ending is not at all sudden, and it leaves the story wide open for more. Of course, Clarke has taken advantage of this fact in the sequel 2061, but that's beyond this review. This is a must-read for any Sci-Fi fan.