Tuesday 27 January 2015

Rendezvous with Rama (Rama Book 1) - Arthur C. Clarke

Title: Rendezvous with Rama (Rama Book 1)
Author: Arthur C. Clarke
Genre: Science Fiction
Published: 1973
Formats: Hardback/Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
The Book Depository
Amazon UK

“Rendezvous with Rama” is probably Arthur C. Clarke's most famous work outside of “2001: A Space Odyssey”. This classic Science Fiction novel is set in the near future with humanity now spread across our solar system. When scientists discover an asteroid heading towards the sun, they are surprised to realise it is going fast enough to escape the sun’s gravitational pull. As it gets closer they soon discover that it is no ordinary asteroid and is in fact an alien spacecraft, massive in size. And so, at short notice a space craft is sent on a mission to investigate the craft before it leaves the solar system.

As far as I am aware, this was the first ever Big Dumb Object styled science fiction novel and on an intellectual level reading this ensured it was quite an interesting experience. The book also includes some of Clarke interesting ideas about the future of human society and space technology which are always intriguing.

On the writing front, Clarke does a great job at describing the size and majesty of what the characters were seeing and the narrative is easy to follow. However, everything is told in a rather workmanlike manner and the novel feels like a rather cold and unemotional documentary rather than an engaging adventure story. Quite simply, it was missing any sense of excitement at the discoveries being made as Clarke has buried most of the fun beneath multiple layers of hard science-fiction detail.

The characters all suffer from the same issue with them coming across as rather robotic and unengaging. Yes we get a decent amount of detail about who they are and what may be driving them but it that workmanlike textbook style was still present. The dialogue between them wasn’t any better and beyond the odd sense or surprise or concern I couldn’t really feel any real emotion in it.

Overall, what was a rather interesting and epic idea is let down by some uninspiring writing. As the first real attempt at writing a Big Dumb Object book, it is probably something that you may want to read as the descriptions and detail put in by Clarke are superb but don’t expect to find any real excitement or tension.


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