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Arthur C Clarke Novels
I have a bit of a love / hate relationship with his work. I grew up reading his novels. I loved his technical ideas & when he went off on a tangent and started getting philosophical.

The big turn off for me was his depiction of people. His characters always came across as 1 dimensional. What really got to me in the end was his depiction of women. They always came across to me as sexual playthings, not really characters in their own right.

Eventually in my mid-teens I'd had enough. After I finished reading 'The Ghost of the Grand Banks', I swore I would never read another Clarke novel.

I'm in my early thirties now. I'd like to think I'm a little more worldly. 

So I'm considering giving Clarke another chance and I'm looking for suggestions. I know most of you are going to suggest the Rama or 2001 series, but I'd like to try one of his lesser known novels.
I haven't read much Clarke but have heard he was notoriously bad at writing women into his novels. 2001:SO only had four or five named female characters and they were all stereotyped cameos. Even at the moon base which supposedly has thousands of the best scientists from all over the world we're only ever introduced to male scientists.

Now one can take the position that this was typical for the time (despite there being books that broke the mould, such as Starship Troopers which featured women alongside and outperforming men without calling attention to it). But it's still a perfectly valid reason not to enjoy certain works. Clarke and his contemporaries might be "classic" in the sense of how they contributed to the genre but that doesn't make them automatically good to read.

When I was younger I never used to really notice this sort of thing. It wasn't until I went to university that I encountered these sorts of criticisms (in all media). Now I'm very aware of it and it really irks me when SF novels don't have decent female characters.
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I liked Childhood's End, 2001, Against the Fall of Night/City and the Stars, The Fountains of Paradise and The Songs of Distant Earth. Not a decent female character in there, to be honest, but a lot of fantastic concepts.

I bought Rama, Earthlight and some of his other novels, but they didn't inspire me. Rama in particular is over-rated; nothing happens - it relies on a sense of wonder alone, which is not enough.
I'm pretty sure that Clarke had little to do with the writing of any of the Rama books after the first in that series. Personally I enjoyed that first one quite a bit, but not the sequels. I recall enjoying his YA novel Dolphin Island, but I think the duo Against the Fall of Night/City and the Stars are my favorites. There was a sequel to them, coauthored (if indeed he had anything to do with it) with someone else, that was terrible.
About the only Clarke novel I've enjoyed - and re-read with some frequency - was Songs of Distant Earth. It had a mutiny, local politicking, interesting ocean world, a beanstalk, a look into the evolution of starships in the setting, and aquatic aliens, and it was all set against the poignant backdrop of Sol's supernova.
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

"Everbody's always in favor of saving Hitler's brain, but when you put it in the body of a great white shark, oh, suddenly you've gone too far." -- Professor Farnsworth, Futurama

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