The story is set in the twenty-second century. A thirty-mile-long cylindrical starship is detected traveling on a course to pass through the Solar system. A group of human explorers are selected and dispatched to intercept the ship in an attempt to discover its purpose, ascertain if there is any threat to Earth, and answer the mysterious questions regarding its origins and purpose. Because all extant names for Roman and Greek gods have been used on other newly discovered celestial objects at this point, the Hindu god Rama is invoked in naming the object, which is originally mistaken to be a comet. Arthur C. Clarke's novel won both the Hugo and Nebula awards upon its release, and coming hard on the heels of "2001: A Space Odessey", "Rendezvous With Rama" is widely regarded as one of Clarke's best works, and is often cited as a quintessential example of "hard" science fiction.