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Book Review: Rendezvous with Rama

Rendezvous with Rama

Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C Clarke

I listened to this book on audio. The narration did great with the accents of the many characters. If it hadn’t been for the audio I most likely would have given up on the story even though this is a classic. Not because I’ve read the book before and know what’s coming. In fact I think that kept me going. I think more because this book is really far duller than I remember. The premise is a cylindrical object has shown up in our solar system and is obviously not a natural occurring object. Therefore mankind is inclined to inspect and explore this strange object.

As a reader: I so wanted to like going through this book again. I honestly did. This book is a classic published back in 1972. I read it first when I was 10 or 11. It is one of our first glimpses of what is possibly an alien generation ship. I thoroughly enjoyed the descriptions of the interior of the ship. The way the world had been built on the inside and the science behind the gravity, the acceleration. Clarke was a brilliant scientist and everything he put into the story made Rama a fully realized place I’d love to visit. I felt sad to see the ship disappear as it had more character than the people telling the story

As a writer: A majority of this book is the classic “Telling” of a story. If you want an example of how to tell instead of show, this book does it. There are huge data dumps where nothing happens, chapters where the story is explained to us, and there is an inconclusive ending.

Sadly each character had little to no motivation and were the thinnest of paper cutouts. Any issue that arose could be resolved with little thought or challenge and absolutely no character growth. They work though the politics of a multi-planet system and figure out this alien world with little difficulty. At no time did I feel any sense that the characters were in danger and I could not find a climax to the story.

Recommendation: Overall I thought this book was downright bad. If it wasn’t a classic I would say avoid this book at all costs. As it is, this is a classic by a master in Science Fiction. For nothing else, explore this book to discover the premise and the technical explanations. There are little spots in the story where things actually happen, but they’re far and few between. For the most part it’s a told story and if you go in knowing that, you won’t be bored to tears. Just don’t expect drama. It’s almost like reading a science book about something that doesn’t really exist.