Publication Date: September 1, 2000
An ancient monolith is unearthed on the moon which sends a mysterious signal toward Saturn. A manned spaceship is sent to investigate the destination of the signal. The AI of the ship was modeled after humanity and has some of its worst qualities. The AI manipulates the crew and takes over the ship leaving the crew to battle their own ship to save humanity.
Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick worked together on the book while, at the same time, Kubrick wrote the screenplay for the movie. Though developed together, the book and film vary wildly in the order and events and even the destination planet. Critics have posited that the visual impact of the film made the novel shabby by comparison. Let’s face it; unless you’re capable of imagination few possess, seeing the vastness of space on a big screen is not going to be able to compete with the written word. The value of the page is that readers are given background and backstory that the screenwriter could only hope to achieve.[easyazon_link identifier=”0451457994″ locale=”US” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]2001: A Space Odyssey[/easyazon_link] is a story of action, intrigue, betrayal and control set against an isolated backdrop. Trapped in a spaceship with a malevolent AI, there’s nowhere to hide. Clarke’s view of the future from the early days of the space program is stunning. During building excavation on the moon, the ancient monolith is discovered. Discovery One is sent out to investigate with 5 people on board. Dr. David Bowman and Dr. Francis Poole are the conscious members of the crew while three other members are in suspended animation to aid in the investigation once the ship arrives at its destination. The Hal 9000 (Hal) is responsible for the operations of the ship. The Doctors have no reason to doubt what Hal and no knowledge that Hal knows what the mission is about which makes it easy for the AI to manipulate their decision-making process. The humans are in trained but in an unusual situation and training is no substitute for experience.
The struggle of man against machine is timeless. Clarke’s approach to the subject is the standard by which all other futuristic science fiction stories should be measured. The attention to detail and big moves in[easyazon_link identifier=”0451457994″ locale=”US” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]2001: A Space Odyssey[/easyazon_link] speak to a talent few authors possess. The beauty of Clarke’s prose is in his elaborate descriptions. Working with an ensemble cast and lacking a true main character, Clarke moves his pieces on the storyboard with dexterity. It’s not difficult to see why[easyazon_link identifier=”0451457994″ locale=”US” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]2001: A Space Odyssey[/easyazon_link] has inspired so many of our modern science fiction masters. The original was followed by two sequels (neither of which I’ve read – I don’t recall having heard of them until preparing for this review though I’ve read this novel a few times). There are things left unfinished in the first novel that are likely expounded in the future editions.
If you’re looking for a great science fiction classic and have managed to miss this one, pick it up today. You won’t be disappointed.
Read an excerpt and buy 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke on
For more information about Arthur C. Clarke and his work, visit the homepage of the Clarke Foundation.