Rama vs. Modern Society

Unfortunately, seeing as how we as a society deal with problems, I can well imagine our lives being transformed into those of the Earthlings in the future, even those onboard Rama III in the colony of New Eden.

We live in a society that still has fears of difference and abnormalities, which is a pity, due to the status of the humans on Earth. We have many different colors, two genders, many different sexual orientations, disabilities, etc… But soon, perhaps next year, or a thousand years from now, we will meet new sentient creatures. And a good portion of us will feel xenophobic for good reason: A) these new creatures, if from the reaches of space, could possess technology that could destroy us in the blink of an eye, and B) they are different. A great number of people would most likely try to take force against them, while others would simply protest in verbal ways, perhaps.

Essentially what happened in the Rama series to spark my negative view of the future began in the third novel, "The Garden of Rama". At this point, almost all of the discriminate issues appeared: racism, homophobia and xenophobia all made their marks.

The racism revolves around the colony of New Eden itself. The original idea was for those with higher IQs to be shuttled aboard Rama to allow the Ramans (creators of Rama) to observe them. So of course, being 2240 or so, they sent up people of all races, genders and cultures (except for Chinese and Brazilian, whose governments forbade them to apply. Read about the Great Chaos to understand). Along with these people came criminals with good imprisonment records. When they arrived on Rama III, the convicts automatically segregated into the four areas of the colony. Even the other colonists did.

The main point of racism came when a Venezuelan boy named Pedro Martinez was charged for the rape of a young Japanese girl about four years into the third part of the book. The family, friends and neighbors all rallied against Martinez and many racial remarks were made throughout the trial.

During the rally as well, the main character, Nicole des Jardins, whom is former governor of New Eden and now a judge, tries to control the situation, which causes a boy to yell, "Kill the nigger bitch." (Nicole is half Caucasian, half African). This is one of the most striking parts of the novel, in which Nicole must face up to this challenge, as well as the many, many others.

Homophobia has a great deal of influence throughout the novel. The words "fag", "fagot", "homo" and "dyke are spotted at many points. It has a big part, as well, concerning RV-41, a retrovirus that attacks the heart and is transmissible through semen and blood. The first case spotted was in a bisexual man who died quite quickly. A few months later, his partner also died. The virus took almost a hundred lives, though one case was cured, but that comes later in the novels.

One paragraph shows how badly the homophobia has spread. In a ceremony dedicated to the anniversary of the colony's settling in the third year, when the governor starts to speak about RV-41, many colonists start to cat-call that the sufferers are "whores and fags" (327), though about five of them received the virus through blood transfusions.

And possibly the most serious of the discriminates focused upon in the novel is xenophobia. Shown towards the Ramans, the avians, Octospiders, Myrmicats and even the Wakefields (main characters) and RV-41 sufferers, it is very common throughout the Rama series.

Toshio Nakamura, who eventually takes control of the colony and becomes a dictator, is extremely xenophobic towards the avians and starts a war against the bird-like race. He also does this with the Octospiders and Myrmicats. And almost all of the colonists agree with him.

In the fourth and final novel, "Rama Revealed", one of the main characters' husbands Robert becomes violently xenophobic to the Octospiders because they kidnapped two of the characters (one of them his wife, the other an RV-41 sufferer). Unbeknownst to him, however, they cure Eponine of RV-41 and teach Ellie (his wife) their language. This helps them survive the war, when they must take refuge with the creatures.

And towards the Wakefields, some colonists expressed very xenophobic opinions towards the children, calling them freaks due to the fact that their parents, while being from Earth, gave birth to them billions of kilometers from the planet. They are, to the colonists, aliens. Especially Benjy, whom suffers from Whittingham's Syndrome, a mental disorder that causes the mental capabilities to be pulled behind (for example, a twenty year old can look twenty with no physical defects, yet have the mind and intellect of a ten year old).

These examples remind me of some reactions to differences on Earth: sexual orientations, gender, disabilities, race, ethnic groups…. The way we are headed, we could eventually find ourselves in the same position as the colonists, which would unfortunate.

We can hopefully stop this by learning more about people who are different than use. This will give us a better understanding of what its like for them to live in our society and perhaps compare it to our way of life. That way, we can help to build a stronger foundation for life.