Rendezvous with Rama, chapters 24-26

And my slow and careful (let’s call it artisan) re-read of Rendezvous with Rama continues. You can read my previous posts here if you’d like, but beware that spoilers (to the extent that you can spoil a book that came out 46 years ago) abound.

Chapter 24 introduces a new character, another member of Norton’s crew. James Pak is a young, inexperienced officer who also competes in aerobatic flying (referred to as sky-bikes). Happily, he has brought one with him on the mission, hidden from Norton. He goes to Norton and tells him this, saying they will be able to reach the southern continent.

This chapter gives a lot of backstory, not just of Pak, but, through him, providing context regarding the evolution of sports. As is typical in the book, Pak is given a selection of characteristics that are thrown out in Norton’s thoughts about him.

Chapter twenty-five continues with Pak (now referred to as Jimmy) practising with his sky-bike, called Dragonfly and determining how to control it within Rama. Having practised, the doctor assesses whether he will be able to make the six hour plus trip to the southern continent and back.

The next chapter, 26, describes, in typical Clarke-ian detail, Pak’s trip to Rama’s south pole. Much of the description is about the the large spike at the south pole that extends five kilometers along the central axis (and is surrounded by smaller spikes). When Pak reaches the spike, he discovers a field (“probably magnetic”) that interferes with him communications. He is then directed to move away from it.

These three chapters cover very little actual forward movement of the plot. The description of the Dragonfly, and Pak’s control of the vehicle, is almost the whole of it. (There is actually little description even of Rama’s interior, other than the spikes.)

I love Clarke’s attention to detail and, as I re-read this book for the nth time, I am appreciating how much this has influenced my own writing. Hyper-detailed description is something that I have struggled against in my own stories and I am appreciating that I don’t necessarily need to do that. (And I am also seeing where, at least in part, I got it from!)

That’s all for now. I’m going to try to do the next installment of this early next week.


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