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as a result of my evident enjoyment, began to feed me his Asimov and Clarke ...
on 7 March 2017
I first came across this book via BBC Radio Four's programme 'Story Time' in November 1976 (or, as my wife says A Long Time Ago). It impressed the hell out of the ten year old me and, having ordered it from the local library, was impressed all over again. My dad was already a big sci-fi fan and, as a result of my evident enjoyment, began to feed me his Asimov and Clarke collection volume by volume.
Rama remains as fresh and enjoyable a book at nearly fifty-one as it was forty years ago. What I appreciate most now is the spare, uncluttered style of the author. Clarke is not big on wordy prose and his emphasis on concepts and story is often at the expense of detailed characterisation. In some ways this makes the book dated. If you are expecting detailed interpersonal subplots then you are likely to be disappointed.
Rama is on a hyperbolic path through the solar system, so Commander Norton and the crew of the Endeavour have a limited amount of time to explore the vast interior of the craft. What I liked about this was that there are no sudden shock revelations as to what Rama 'really' is. The explorers struggle to make sense of an inexplicable alien environment and what they do discover comes via good old fashioned scientific investigation and reasoned deduction.
This is classic 'hard' science fiction, emotionally understated by todays standards perhaps, but no less powerful for that.