Book Review: Rendezvous With Rama

After a brief period of time falling off the face of the Earth (we’ll pretend quantum mechanics allows this) – I’m back. After reading so many sci-fi novels in a row, I decided to take a break and read some trashy fiction (looking at you Girl on the Train) and books that had always been recommended like Shantaram. And then a funny thing happened – I missed our beloved genre. During this break I did read Michel Houellebecq’s Submission which had all the elements of a good hard-science sci-fi novel, albeit wrapped up in a much more terrifying and “real life” manner subbing Islam for aliens/technology/outbreaks/etc. But enough about my absence – let’s get to the review.

Obviously Arthur C. Clarke pops up a lot on the Lists, and we’ve all read or seen something that he wrote. I was excited for Rama because it is a highly referenced book, one that seems to have permeated culture in a way few books do. I wish I could say I was struck by the content, but it ended up being a big exploration story with small excitement but no true big payoff. While I can easily imagine that for its time it was appropriate, now with so many sci-fi B-movies utilizing the same basic plot – it failed to feel exciting or new for me. This concept in itself is something I find very interesting about reading decades old sci-fi novels – sometimes the concepts they are concerned about are still incredibly relevant, other time (as in this case) the trope has been so heavily explored that by the time I get back to a possible origin point – it fails to feel like anything special. The best way I could describe this book is probably Journey to the Center of the Earth in an alien spaceship. I would recommend it for people who love adventure stories light on plot, but heavy on excitement.

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