Most helpful critical review
Great science, average writing
on 16 July 2015
The science fiction ideas in the novel are great. Clarke's understanding of physics and his envisioning of what would be possible using the laws of motion is very well done. Most of it was actually quite familiar, but that's because Clarke was one of the first to consider and write of such things, and so much sci-fi has subsequently been built from the same ideas.
Unfortunately, where the idea of Rama is brilliant, the writing with which it is described simply isn't. Clarke doesn't create much excitement: he doesn't have the creative sense with language that he does with science. A couple of times when a character is about to discover something we've been waiting for, Clarke cuts to a meeting and has the scientists there discuss the new revelation with quite dry dialogue. There is rarely a sense of wonder, even when the main character sees inside Rama for the first time. It's only in your own mind, if you step back from the book and get a sense of what Clarke is describing in exact, dull prose, that you can see the wonder the writing doesn't contain.
Clarke's writing of characters is poor, and his envisioning of relationships in the future is really terrible. As I've so often found with writers who understand science well, the same cannot be said for their understanding of human emotion.