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I am searching for a book that I loved when I was a young teenager. In the book as I remember it, people live in a giant, tubelike meteor. There are intense, fascinating descriptions of how the ceiling is also the ground (because it curves up), so the people can look up and see rivers following and animals walking around above them. I also remember that there are alien fruits, which the people name after how they taste, not how they look - so if a fruit tastes like a cucumber but looks like a watermelon, they call it "cucumber." Pretty sure there are also benevolent aliens in the book, and that it's a series that was originally written by one author, then taken over by another. Thanks in advance for your help!

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  • Hi, welcome to the site. In roughly which year (or range of years) did you read this, and when do you think it might've been published? Also, do you recall anything about the cover? Jun 5, 2022 at 21:16
  • Does the term “The Way” trigger any memories? Jun 5, 2022 at 21:39
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    How long ago were you a teenager?
    – Sam Azon
    Jun 5, 2022 at 23:12
  • @DoscoJones I was thinking of Greg Bear's Eon as well, though offhand I don't recall any fruit or veg being discussed.. It was a while ago for me. I'm also thinking of John Varley's Titan/Wizard/Demon trilogy, which has a lot more fantasy vibes but also takes place on a ring shaped space-colony. Jun 6, 2022 at 11:31
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    [Language pedantism:] A meteor is a light effect which happens when an object (like a meteoroid, or a comet, or an asteroid, or arguably a space ship) enters the atmosphere. Nobody can live in a light effect. You could live in a meteroid, or an asteroid, or a space ship that is shaped like one. It might get uncomfortable in the object once it creates a meteor though. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meteoroid#Meteors Jun 6, 2022 at 17:04

3 Answers 3

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Might it be the Rama series by Arthur C. Clarke, and Gentry Lee?

The "Rama" of the title is an alien starship, initially mistaken for an asteroid categorised as "31/439". It is detected by astronomers in the year 2131 while it is still outside the orbit of Jupiter. Its speed (100,000 km/h – 62,137 m/h) and the angle of its trajectory clearly indicate it is not on a long orbit around the sun, but is an interstellar object. The astronomers' interest is further piqued when they realise the asteroid has an extremely rapid rotation period of four minutes and is exceptionally large. It is named Rama after the Hindu god, and an uncrewed space probe dubbed Sita is launched from the Mars moon Phobos to intercept and photograph it. The resulting images reveal that Rama is a perfect cylinder, 20 kilometres (12 mi) in diameter and 50 kilometres (31 mi) long, and almost completely featureless, making this humankind's first encounter with an alien spacecraft.

The solar survey vessel Endeavour is sent to study Rama, as it is the only ship close enough to do so in the brief period Rama will spend in the Solar System. Endeavour manages to rendezvous with Rama one month after it first comes to Earth's attention, when the alien ship is already inside Venus's orbit. The crew, led by Commander Bill Norton, enters Rama through a safety system consisting of triple airlocks, and explores the 16-km wide by 50-km long cylindrical world of its interior, but the nature and purpose of the starship and its creators remain enigmatic throughout the book. Rama's inner surfaces hold "cities" of geometric structures that resemble buildings and are separated by streets with shallow trenches. A band of water, dubbed the Cylindrical Sea, stretches around Rama's central circumference. Massive spires, which are theorised to be part of Rama's propulsion system, stand at its "southern" end. They also find that Rama's atmosphere is breathable.

While Arthur C. Clarke was the sole author for the first book, Gentry Lee co-wrote the next three books, and was the sole author for the fifth and sixth books.

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    It’s not the first book. No biosphere. Jun 5, 2022 at 21:38
  • You should probably also note that the first book was written by Arthur C. Clarke, but that later books were co-authored by Gentry Lee as well — which matches the OP's recollections. Also, as the OP recalls, there were benevolent aliens in the later books. Jun 6, 2022 at 12:11
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    "and an uncrewed space probe" I read that 4 times as "unscrewed" and was wondering how in the world you unscrew a space probe (and would it hurt). I've even had a lot of coffee today...
    – FreeMan
    Jun 6, 2022 at 17:17
  • Yes! That's it! You guys are the best. Thank you.
    – Baila
    Jun 8, 2022 at 7:16
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    @baila: Ah, in that case, can you click on the checkmark by the voting buttons to accept?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jun 8, 2022 at 10:00
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Eon (1985) by Greg Bear.

An asteroid, not a meteor.

From Wikipedia:

Juno has been hollowed out along its long axis, subdivided into seven cylindrical chambers, and rotates to provide artificial gravity. The chambers are terraformed, with the second and third containing cities that have been maintained by automatic systems for centuries.

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. I agree that the setting of a tube-shaped body is a match, but I don't remember a part in Eon where they name alien plants based on what Earth plants they resemble in taste. Can you edit in any quotes to prove this is a match?
    – DavidW
    Jun 6, 2022 at 15:51
  • The aliens are not especially benevolent, if they are aliens. Jun 6, 2022 at 18:24
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    One of my favorite sci-fi books but doesn't really match OP's description. Jun 6, 2022 at 19:06
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    I thought of this when I read the title, but it seems only a coincidence that it has a tube shape. I didn't get the impression that the Way (was that its name?) was that tall and wide. Jun 6, 2022 at 21:09
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Sounds like Heart of the Comet by David Brin and Gregory Benford.

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    Welcome Alex. Please take our tour and refer to the help center for guidance. We like answers to fully explain how they fit the question and how they are correct, you could improve this by editing to quote the relevant bits from the wiki. Be aware that links break over time, so link-only answers are usually subject to closure. Jun 6, 2022 at 19:32
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    Is it a tube? The description doesn't mention anything like that.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jun 6, 2022 at 23:03

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