Arthur C Clarke passed away on 19 March 2008, and I found no better way than to commemorate his life and career than by reading one of his books.
I have to admit I was never a fan of Clarke. Growing up I had been attracted to the works of other authors, or in the full throws of genre fantasy fandom (Dragonlance, plenty of Forgotten Realms, and other such fantasy pulp). Thus it was not until I had picked up this book that I had read any of Clarke's material.
Have to say I didn't know what I was missing! Rama is a somewhat thin book, but well written and engaging nonetheless. It is done in the traditional style of hard SF: characters are a bit thin (the main character has some depth...brought about mostly by multiple wives), and are used mostly as a foil for exploring the great scientific mystery. As such mystery abounds, but perhaps not long enough. It was an enjoyable romp as the characters explored Rama, but in the end I don't think enough secrets were revealed for the pay-off. That being said, there is word it is being made into a movie (or at the least optioned), something I can certainly get excited about.
Clearly, though, the book was a setup for a sequel. I bought the sequel, though I'm told it is not as good. Well, I certainly intend to read it anyway (I got mine used -- in hardback -- though I'm disappointed that the previous owner was a smoker!)