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The hypothesis of God, for instance, gives an incomparably absolute opportunity to understand everything and know absolutely nothing. Give man an extremely simplified system of the world and explain every phenomenon away on the basis of that system. An approach like that doesn’t require any knowledge. Just a few memorized formulas plus so-called intuition and so-called common sense.

― Arkady Strugatsky, Roadside Picnic

Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time – when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.

— The demon-haunted world: science as a candle in the dark, Carl Sagan.

Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light‐years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.

— The demon-haunted world: science as a candle in the dark, Carl Sagan.

The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.

— Ernest Hemingway

“You’re an interesting species. An interesting mix. You’re capable of such beautiful dreams, and such horrible nightmares. You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone, only you’re not. See, in all our searching, the only thing we’ve found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other.”

― Carl Sagan, Contact

I’m amazed that still no one has done a film about this book, Arthur’s C. Clarke Rendez Vous with Rama. I’ve read this one a few times. For me is one of the best ones from his author. Maybe, the idea can be like Solaris but here is less about philosophical ideas and more about just simple exploration. It is a much more straight forward and easy to read novel. Some say that it even has no real plot. And that if someone would make a film of it, it would just look like a documentary about exploration of an alien place. And that’s all right. Is precisely that, a description of an alien environment. And still, one just cannot stop reading, looking for more answers, new places, new things. The curiosity increases with each page turn. But there is no sense of conflict in the story, or between the characters, or anything. Maybe that’s why it maybe difficult to translate this to a film.

An object approaching our solar system is detected. An expedition is sent, because that object is known to be a gigantic cylinder. When the expedition arrives, they have to manage a way to this space ship, that apparently has no doors. When they find their way to the interior of the cylinder, what waits for them is just darkness. The novel basically creates a mental image of the interior of this ship. It doesn’t give you answers about what this cylinder is. Who made it. What is doing in our vicinity in the solar system. The sense of scale is amazing: 8 km long stairs. 50 km from north hemisphere to south. A sea belt 10 km wide in the middle of the cylinder. Structures high as cities. It’s own internal weather. Artificial day and night. Weird findings like three-legged spiders, sharks in the sea, trash processors in the cities. They call them biots. It is not clear if there were living beings or robots of some kind. Everything is shown little by little, step by step. Only one thing was clear at the end. Ramans do everything in threes.

This little novel became a bit of obsession for me. And that obsession drove my to read this more than a couple of times. I even started a home project using CG tools trying to recreate that environment. Some day I will try to finish it. You can find loads of visual interpretations of how Rama and its inhabitants should look:

And this leads me to my first question. Why there is no film about this? It seems that David Fincher was trying to make one since 2000. Starring Morgan Freeman. Not much has transcenced about this project, it looks abandoned since then. This quote tells what their intentions were at some point:

“We wanted to make a film that when kids leave the theatre they don’t buy action figures, they buy a telescope.”

David Fincher on Rendezvous with Rama (2008), December 2005

In this site, Stel Pavlou talks about a script draft that was delivered to Morgan Freeman and David Fincher in 2008. But nothing new about this possible film.

This short film made by students looked really promising, the ending is just great, although the CG looks dated for today’s standards:

And here, a great critic of the book, although I would really like to see a film made of this:

I know that most of the times, films based on books are not the best thing, but this is something I would like watch.

There are also some an old games, graphic adventures, based on this. One from 1984, and another made in 1996. Some of the images posted here are from the user’s manual of those games. And lastly, there are sequels to the first book. To be honest, I found them a bit disappointing. I think they try to explain too much. And that somehow spoils the original idea.

“There is child abuse, and there are such things as repressed memories. But there are also such things as false memories and confabulations, and they are not rare at all. Misrememberings are the rule, not the exception. They occur all the time. They occur even in cases where the subject is absolutely confident – even when the memory is a seemingly unforgettable flashbulb, one of those metaphorical mental photographs.”

― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
And this is one of the reasons why I take pictures. This ones don’t lie…

“Dreams are associated with a state called REM sleep, the abbreviation standing for rapid eye movement. The REM state is strongly correlated with sexual arousal. Experiments have been performed in which sleeping subjects are awakened whenever REM state emerges, while members of a control group are awakened just as often each night but not when they’re dreaming. After some days, the control group is a little groggy, but the experimental group – the ones who are prevented from dreaming – is hallucinating in daytime. It’s not that a few people with a particular abnormality can be made to hallucinate in this way; anyone is capable of hallucinations.”

― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark