Rendezvous with Rama is a fantastic work. Set in a not too distant future where man has colonised several planets and moons in the solar system, the story begins when a giant cylinder comes hurtling through space towards the sun. When humans realize that the cylinder is not a naturally occurring body, they dispatch the nearest spaceship to explore. I don’t want to say too much about the book. Essentially, it is a story about exploration and first contact with an alien civilization. It is filled with adventure, interesting twists and scientific possibilities.
In truth, they just don’t write them like this anymore. For the most part it eschews characterization, concentrating on the wonders of discovery. I get the feeling this plays to Clarke’s strengths. It’s a quick read and highly recommended.
P.S. ‘Rendezvous’ is just about the only word I can honestly say I learned to spell because of grade-school spelling tests. I fear Mom put a lot of work into this without much to show for it.