tek's rating: ½

Rendezvous with Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke (pub. 1973)
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Arthur C. Clarke is a science fiction author whose name I've been familiar with pretty much as long as I can remember, but somehow never got around to reading anything by him. Well, I finally read this book in 2016, and while I know it won a bunch of awards and is highly regarded, I'm afraid I didn't like it as much as I'd hoped I would. I think it was alright, but... nothing much actually happens. The story takes place around 2130, at which point several planets, moons, and asteroids have been colonized, throughout the Solar System. We learn a little bit about the political situation between the various planets. And a bit about some new religion. And I also got the impression that polyamory is common, by that time, which I was glad to see. But all of that is quite incidental to the plot.

A huge alien ship of some kind enters the Solar System, but there are no signs of life aboard. A ship called Endeavour, commanded by William Norton, is sent to investigate. They soon find a way into the alien ship, which had been dubbed Rama. So, the whole story is basically Norton and his crew exploring the interior of Rama, which is kind of like an entire artificial world. They never meet any aliens, and they never really learn much of anything about the purpose of Rama, or anything. And finally, Rama leaves the Solar System. Anyway... I don't know what else to say, really. The descriptions of the Endeavour crew's explorations are reasonably interesting, and there are a few episodes of adventure. I wouldn't really call any of it boring, but... at least I'd say it's all pretty academic. I know not all mysteries can be solved, but I hardly see the point in telling a story, otherwise. (I feel bad about not liking the book more than I do, but it can't be helped.)

There's a line at the end of the book that sounds unmistakably like a sequel hook, though apparently Clarke didn't intend it that way. Nevertheless, three sequels were eventually written (mainly by someone named Gentry Lee; I'm not sure how much involvement Clarke had). I'm not really sure how interested I would be in reading any of them, but I might at least like to check out "Rama II," someday. Though there are unrelated books by Clarke that I'd be much more interested in reading.


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(Image taken from RandomHouseBooks.com.)