Rendezvous with Rama Review

12:55 Mon 12 Oct 2009
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Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama won the Nebula in 1973, and the Hugo and Locus in 1974 (as well as the 1973 BSFA award and the 1974 Jupiter and John W. Campbell awards). After I read it I described it as “old school”, which still seems accurate.

It’s a tale of first contact, in which a gigantic starship enters the solar system and humans mount an exploration expedition to it. It’s very much “hard” science fiction, in which the technical aspects of getting to and exploring a massive spaceship take center stage. The impressive feat of authorship here isn’t characterization or plotting, but imagining in detail how such a scenario would play out in reality. Clarke does this extremely well, and Rendezvous with Rama definitely adds to his reputation as a pre-eminent hard SF author.

I enjoyed it, and appreciated it as an intellectual exercise, but it’s not my favorite style of science fiction. It deserves its reputation as a classic, but it’s a classic in a subgenre that’s not as interesting to me as other strains of science fiction.

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