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Editor’s Note

“The Novel Companion...”

Based in part on Clarke’s earlier story, The Sentinel, & co-written by Stanley Kubrick, this novel is the must-read companion to the classic film.
Scribd Editor

The year is 2001, and cosmonauts uncover a mysterious monolith that has been buried on the Moon for at least three million years. To their astonishment, the monolith releases an equally mysterious pulse—a kind of signal—in the direction of Saturn after it is unearthed. Whether alarm or communication, the human race must know what the signal is—and who it was intended for.

The Discovery and its crew, assisted by the highly advanced HAL 9000 computer system, sets out to investigate. But as the crew draws closer to their rendezvous with a mysterious and ancient alien civilization, they realize that the greatest dangers they face come from within the spacecraft itself. HAL proves a dangerous traveling companion, and the crew must outwit him to survive.

This novel version of the famous Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey was written by Clarke in conjunction with the movie’s production. It is meant to stand as a companion piece, and it offers a complementary narrative that’s loaded with compelling science fiction ideas.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Clarke is widely revered as one of the most influential science fiction writers of the 20th century, esteemed alongside Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein, a trio known informally as the “Big Three.” Before his death in 2008, he authored more than 100 novels, novellas, and short story collections and laid the groundwork for science fiction as we know it today. Combining scientific knowledge and visionary literary aptitude, Clarke’s work explored the implications of major scientific discoveries in astonishingly inventive and mystical settings.

Clarke’s short stories and novels have won numerous Hugo and Nebula Awards, have been translated into more than 30 languages, and have sold millions of copies worldwide. Several of his books, including 2001: A Space Odyssey and 2010: Odyssey II, have been adapted into films that still stand as classic examples of the genre. Without a doubt, Arthur C. Clarke is one of the most important voices in contemporary science fiction literature.

Topics: Speculative Fiction, Epic, Adventurous, Futuristic, Space, Space Travel, Made into a Movie, Evolution, Astronauts, and Robots

Published: RosettaBooks on
ISBN: 9780795330704
List price: $8.99
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I can't really add anything that hasn't been said about this science fiction classic. It holds up quite well for it's age (a problem that faces most science fiction), and is an essential companion to the Kubrick film. By it's very nature, the book goes into much more detail than the film, and while there are a few subtle differences (the DISCOVERY is en route to Saturn instead of Jupiter, for instance), the big change is Bowman's journey through the Star Gate. The book gives a much clearer explanation that the rather psychedelic voyage of the film, and for that reason alone this short novel is well worth your time.
more
well its kind of confusingmore
I remember who lent me this book in HS, in what class, and the fact that I read the last page at his suggestion. That single page pushed me into a three to four year spiral of sci-fi reading that changed my life. perhaps not for the better or the worse, but changed I was. Mind-bending lit tends to attract we introspective, depressed nerds, but this book had such power that nothing else I read really struck me as hard (maybe Larry Niven's The Mote in God's Eye, but even that was a different fascination -- and I only read that one once). But Clarke introduced me to Niven and eventually I found myself buying stacks of used sci-fi.

I mean, what better compliment than "this book made me read more"? Only John Steinbeck can share that distinction in that point of my life.more
Purchased this first edition ten years or so ago. It was autographed! Now my brother is looking after the book. First read 2001 in HS. Remember seeing the movie when it was first screen--rocked my mind.more
This was my first introduction into scifi books. It was nothing like i would have expected from the stereotypical scifi genre, it was rather bland in my opinion but had an abundant amount of intriguing thought behind it. This book written in the years spanning 1964-1968 and finally being published in 1968 can still be considered what the future might hold even now in 2013. We have made great leaps in space exploration but still nothing like what had been imagined by Arthur C. Clarke. I look forward to reading his two subsequent sequels. This book is not recommended for those who want the normal scifi, it is an "intellectual" SiFi and requires some deep reflection on the readers part.more
"The thing's hollow--it goes on forever--and--oh my God!--it's full of stars!" - Astronaut David Bowman's final message to Earth.Arthur C. Clarke's "2001: A Space Odyssey" is an epoch-spanning imagining of humankind's first contact with alien life. Most people know the core story from Stanley Kubrick’s film of the same title. What's less known is that the book and screenplay were produced in parallel; Clarke and Kubrick working closely together on both. This edition of the book includes a foreword by Clarke, which provides insights into the story's production. He describes an early conversation with the great director, where Kubrick tells him, "What I want is a theme of mythic grandeur." Clarke certainly delivered. The story revolves around a monolithic stone-like entity that simply appears on earth 3 million years before modern times. The obelisk explores the mental and physical "skills" of individual man-apes, identifying which have the capacity to carry forth their subtly enhanced genetics. And while the movie is known for it's groundbreaking cinematography and special effects, in equal parts with its story-telling vagaries, Clarke's exposition-strong style draws a clear picture of how this alien-borne object was built to experiment, prod and alter the life forms it finds. Not wholly through the serendipity of natural selection, but through delicate alien modifications, do these man-apes take the first tentative steps down their evolutionary paths. The alien interference is subtle; it provides sort of an evolutionary jump-start and then disappears as suddenly as it appeared. Clarke writes, "…the man-apes had been given their first chance. There would be no second one; the future was, very literally, in their own hands."One of the first gifts of enlightenment explored by the man-apes is the use of tools, and the actualization that they can be used to defend…and kill. A clear theme throughout, Clarke writes on the impact of the human propensity towards violence. Using the monolith's suggestion for the man-ape's adoption of tools as the starting point, Clarke writes that the physical and mental abilities to lay waste to nature and man, up close and at a distance, has defined human evolution -- from the first Promethean spark of consciousness through his fictional 2001 and beyond.The novel jumps to the late 20th century. Man has uncovered a monolith buried deep below the surface of the moon. Once the 3 million year old object absorbs the first rays of the sun, a burst of energy explodes towards space. After millions of years of solitude, humankind inadvertently pulls the trigger on its next major evolutionary leap. The burst of energy blows through the solar system targeted at a small moon orbiting Saturn.Contextually, this story was written during the dawn of the space age. Russian satellites had orbited the earth and Kennedy had rallied America behind its own goals to put a man on the moon. Science and technology were at the forefront of culture. Consideration of the possibility of alien life was a natural outcome of this collective thought. Clarke explores one of the most common themes in science fiction, that of 'First Contact': "The political and social implications were immense; every person of real intelligence--everyone who looked an inch beyond his nose--would find his life, his values, his philosophy, subtly changed. Even if nothing whatsoever was discovered about (the monolith), and it remained an eternal mystery, Man would know that he was not unique in the universe. All futures must now contain this possibility."The final third of the story follows astronaut David Bowman aboard a spaceship powering towards the destination of the moon-monolith's energy burst. The memorable HAL-9000 accompanies Bowman on his journey and despite the supercomputer-character's renown, fills only a relatively brief portion of the book. HAL represents a step on the continuum of humankind's evolutionary ascent. It represents the convergence of man and machine. As man developed machines to enhance his existence, he took a step further by transferring human consciousness to machine, which, to dire results, includes all of man's neuroses and psychoses.I thoroughly enjoyed the slow build to human-like sentience of HAL. Following its very purposeful deceptions and murder, HAL says to Bowman rather innocently, "is your confidence in me fully restored? You know that I have the greatest possible enthusiasm for this mission."Clarke's novel evokes the very familiar pacing and mood of Kubrick's film. The details are rich, the exposition extensive and all encompassing. The book finishes with a much more satisfying conclusion than the movie. Clarke actually provides an explanation for the sequences of Bowman's final interactions with the alien intelligence, and his own fate. His conclusion satisfies years of frustrated confusion with Kubrick's final scenes.more
Since I'm not living under a rock, I've seen the movie "2001" A Space Odyssey" a few times. Knowing that the screenplay and the novel were developed by Arthur C. Clarke simultaneously, I thought I knew what to expect. But I was blown away by how much more I enjoyed the novel than the film.Much of the framework of the story is the same (the major exception being the ending) but it is told in a very different manner (as events are happening rather than through an investigation afterward.) There is strong and interesting story telling here and a better explanation of why events are happening. I found the book fascinating and deserving of its reputation of as a science fiction classic.more
Even though the book was released after the famous film directed by Stanley Kubrick debuted, it would be a mistake to consider it a novelization of the movie. Actually, Clarke and Kubrick collaborated on both the screenplay and the novel, and Kubrick’s name was originally supposed to appear on the cover as co-author. But Kubrick got caught up with filming, and Clarke finished the novel on his own. That’s why there are some noticeable — but not, in my opinion, critical — differences between the novel and the film. Some details were changed during filming for story purposes or because the original idea was too difficult to shoot. For instance, the location of the second monolith was moved from one of Saturn’s moons to orbit around Jupiter because Kubrick could not figure out how to realistically depict Saturn’s rings on film. (This was before Cassini, remember.)However, if you somehow missed both the movie and the book, I would recommend reading the novel only after seeing the movie first, and only if you don’t mind a lot of explanation for what happens in the movie. For me, Clarke’s novel augments my understand of Kubrick’s film and helps me understand the movie’s many abstract concepts: What are the aliens? What are their motives? Why did the HAL 9000 go crazy? How was Dave Bowman transformed and what is the significance of his transformation?Clarke’s writing style is restrained and focused, making this short novel very readable. The best sections are the final two, aboard the spaceship Discovery during HAL’s breakdown and Dave’s encounter with the monolith. Clarke effectively conveys the paradoxical emotions of space travel: the boredom and tedium of space flight; the thrill of exploring worlds so beautiful and alien that it is almost impossible to comprehend them; and the extreme isolation and loneliness of being millions of miles from all other members of the human race. The sequence where the HAL 9000 computer loses its mind is particularly chilling, just as in the movie. And the description of Dave’s journey into the monolith is awe-inspiring, yet Clarke keeps us tethered to the universe and concepts we can understand.It’s rare that both a great film and a great book can be produced in tandem; I can’t really come up with another example. The only flaw is perhaps the dated title. We’re now a decade past the pivotal title year, and about as far from building a moon base or putting people on Mars as we could be, much less mounting a manned expedition to the outer solar system. Well, just ignore the date, or consider this an alternate history instead of a vision of the future. What if our evolution had been guided by godlike aliens undertaking a multi-million-year experiment? Would be better off today, post-2001?more
I should, I suppose, rate this as a classic. But despite how memorable and iconic it is, I have always found it, and Kubrick's movie version, to be rather cold. Clarke wrote other novels and short stories that are a lot more enjoyable.more
Obviously 2001 is a classic and any self respecting sci-fi fan will give it a read. However, I don't feel like it imparts much more to the reader than the movie does. If anything, by explaining some of the symbolism and events that the movie leaves to the imagination, the book takes away some of the mystery and emotion from the story.Also at times Clarke is a bit heavy handed with his visions of the (then-to-be) future, and while many of his predictions actually did come true in reality, this overuse feels dated and slows the tempo of the story to me as a modern day reader. The story is still very good, but I feel like the best sci-fi should be timeless.more
As a novel, 2001 is by far the best of the series, the other books simply relay certain events of a future that is completely believeable and realistic. As individual books, though, the sequels are lagging in the quality department, relative to 2001. That one should be required reading for anyone who considers themselves a SF fan, but the sequels exist only for the readers interested enough to see what a genius like Clark can imagine.An odd thing to quantify, how to phrase a recommendation of the series. They are good stories from a great imagination, but if SF isn't your cup of tea then the sequels are honestly best left at the bookstore. They are simply a vehicle for his idea of a future world of space faring and space living humans, really.more
Humans are always asking the age old question of whether we are alone in this universe. This question is the one question that continually drives us to look outside ourselves, to explore the worlds beyonds, and to test the limits of human ingenuity. The premise of 2001 is that there is intelligence out there and we are by no means alone. Since the dawn of mankind as a conscious entity, our evolutionary path has been tampered with, altered, and ultimately advanced upon with the intervention of "beings" not from our world. Our existence may be a natural process that came to be over millions of years, but our advancements, is by no means natural.Half way through the book, I realized with a shock that there is minimal to no character development whatsoever in the book. Despite the fact that I knew nothing about the characters's family, history, or development, which is a rarity in most books, I was still thoroughly intrigued by the plot and direction of the book. Perhaps it is my unabashed curiosity about space travel and exploration, but despite not really connecting with the characters (since there was nothing to connect with), the overall premise of our evolutionary development being experimented with at one specific point in history, and that causing irrevocable changes in our species had me completely sold and wanting to find out what happens in the subsequent sequels to the book.more
The movie 2001 is one of my favorites and I figured it was time to read the book. The first thing I noticed, especially at the beginning, was that you get a much better understanding of what is happening in the movie. I always found the ape-man sequence at the start of the movie a bit confusing, but after reading the book it makes a lot more sense. The end of the movie still is a bit unclear and the book only helps minimally because the ending is a bit different. The book includes more details about various aspects found in the movie, but it also has a major difference; the Discovery crew goes to Saturn and not Jupiter. Perhaps not the most important detail, yet Clarke changes it up in his sequel, 2010, and follows the movie, not the book. In short, if you like the movie, you will like this book.more
Its better than good. It comes with some great baggage which helps it along. It's obviously difficult to disentangle it from the film. Having seen the film first, like most I suspect, you find the celluloid images and atmospheres informing the text. This is not negative; it was my appreciation of the film that encouraged me to take on the book.It is more intelligible than the film.I'm fascinated by the openess of the ending. There isn't ,as far as I can see, a definite direction the future will go. He's left it hanging. I wasn't expecting that. (But then it wasn't possible to expect anything with the film as a precedent.)more
Clarke is a favorite author, but 2001 isn't really a favorite for me among his novels--but that might have something to do with my introduction to this story. My mother dragged me to see the 2001 film when I was five-years-old. I found the psychedelic odyssey among the stars terrifying and cried until my mother was forced to leave the theater before the film ended. Ever after she'd tell the story of how I was a brat and I'd tell the story of how she was callous. So, to a child that last part of the film is terrifying. As an adult? Well, I don't recall my reaction when I saw the film next, or if I had read the novel by then, but I imagine the reaction of most would be what Clarke relates in the introduction. He reported Rock Hudson left the film asking "Can someone tell me what the hell this is all about?"I'm betting that is what sends a lot of people to this novel--and Clarke says some even complain the novel ruins the "mystery" of the film. It was interesting by the way learning this was in a sense a novelization of the film. On the title page it says this is: Based on a screenplay by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke. Although it in turn was based on a short "The Sentinel" and what Clarke says was material from five other shorts, the novel was simultaneously developed with the film; it's impossible to read this without constantly thinking of the film. Naturally given their origins, they're very faithful renditions of each other, but that only underlines what different experiences they are--the film versus the text. The written form being far less ambiguous and the film more concise.I think that's particularly brought home by the Part I, "Primeval Night" through the point of view of "Moon-Walker"--a "man-ape" ancestor to humans. I think the film wins here: the eerie music of the obelisk, the brilliant way Kubrick with the toss of a bone tool into the air turns it into a space shuttle going to the moon--in an instance saying everything needed about the passage of three million years. For me reading the novel pays off in the last part, "Through the Stargate" because I do find the mystifying end to the film more confusing and thus annoying than inspiring. And here the novel clarifies things immensely.more
I saw the movie first, which, although I loved it, was quite bewildering.Then, shortly after I read the book and quite a few blank spots were filled in.For me this was *the* introduction to science fiction, and I thank Mr. Clarke for hauling me in!I still read the book every few years, and it never fails to enthrall me!!more
I'm glad I finally read this classic. I later found out that it differs substantially from the movie with regards to major plot elements. Not having seen the movie I can't comment on which is better. Overall, it was an interesting, enjoyable read if not truly gripping.more
'At the moment, we do not know whether to hope or fear. We do not know if, out on the moons of Saturn, you will meet with good or with evil - or only with ruins a thousand times older than Troy.'I was surprised to find that the story makes sense! Next time I see the film (which I have already seen more than once), I will actually understand what is going on. Stanley Kubrick may have been a genius, but he managed to miss out all the explanatory linking sections of the book from his film.more
2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the most universally loved science-fiction books out there, and for that reason, I had to pick it up and give it a read. I can see why it's loved, but it's not without it's flaws (though minor they may be).The plot is both unique and interesting and Clarke really ropes you in during the first few chapters that set the stage for what is to come. I did, however, think the story was a bit slow in developing at times - Clarke seems to get distracted by the scenery in a few places and, at least for me, I found myself ready to move on and get back to the story before Clarke himself seemed to be.Other than that minor complaint, the writing is quite good. Clarke doesn't really let you get emotionally involved in the main characters, but somehow that seems to work - you're roped in more by the actual story itself which is unique, gripping and at times a bit frightening.more
See the movie. Read the Book. The frontpiece to the book describes it as based on the screenplay by Arthur C Clarke and Stanley Kubrick. It would seem that the movie was being made in conjunction with the writing of the novel. The movie being released some months before the novel appeared due to rights issues.Like many people I have seen the movie both at the cinema and on TV and so the question for me was; how does the book hold up after familiarisation with the movie? Well it holds up pretty good. I have always been confused by the ending to the movie, but it all becomes perfectly clear in the book. It's almost worth reading for this reason alone. The book is well written with enough suspense contained in the familiar story line to keep you reading. Where the novel takes off however is in the brilliant description of the journey through the stargate. The novel was originally published in 1968 at the height of the American space program and I think this benefits the novel in a number of ways. Clarke captures the feel for astronauts working in space, the meticulous care that was needed, the training that had to be undergone by the kind of people that regularly appeared on our TV screens at that time. He has made Dave Bowman almost as famous as the moon astronauts Its always fun to look back at sci fi novels published in the sixties to see how accurate they were in predicting the future. Well obviously we hadn't made made any discoveries of alien artifacts by 2001 and Clarke's prediction of a working moonbase being established in 1994 was way off target. However he was more accurate when talking about handheld newspads being standard and that; "the more wonderful the means of communication, the more trivial, tawdry or depressing its contents seemed to be" Thank you Arthur.more
This was a great start to a wonderful series. HAL was intriguing. The whole concept was profound.more
Science fiction is something I've been wanting to get seriously into recently, and as a result I think most of the novels I have read this year have been Sci-Fi. So of course I would need to become familiar with what seems to be considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest, science fiction stories ever. The only thing I knew about this novel before I read it was HAL9000, so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. (I haven't seen the movie yet either.) What I got was a fairly great novel, which certainly leaves me wanting to read the rest of the series, and other Clarke novels, but which I do think was somewhat flawed. I hardly need to describe the plot of this novel, so I'll just get into it. The first problem with 2001: A Space Odyssey is that it is quite clear that Clarke pulled this together from a number of different short stories. I didn't actually know that this was the case while I was reading the novel, but I was entirely unsurprised to learn this when I'd finished it. The transitions between the different parts of the novel can hardly be described as 'smooth' for the most part. There's not much in the way of segueways, and so for the first two-thirds of the novel I was a bit uncertain of the direction the novel was going in. I sort of was, but I couldn't be sure if I wasn't about to be thrown somewhere else with totally different characters, and a plot whose link to what had been previously occurring I would not be sure of. The result is a novel that's very up-and-down and takes a long time to 'settle'. What's even more of a problem is that the novel appears to be building toward some frenzied climax with all that occurs with Hal...and then it slows right down again. What follows isn't at all bad, but it seems anti-climatic in comparison to the sudden burst of intensity, and does make things seem a little boring at times. The second major issue, which follows on from this first problem, is that 2001 kind of lacks a main character. David Bowman eventually emerges as this toward the end, but Clarke really doesn't establish him as someone I can care about very well. We're only given emotional insights into this character on a couple of occasions, and these aren't exactly brilliant. Most of the time I felt rather disconnected from him. It's also annoying how Dr. Floyd is well established as a main character in Part Two, and then he disappears for almost all of the rest of the novel. I would've liked some sections interspersed where we learnt about what was happening on Earth more, particularly relating to the interesting, but largely unexplored, political situation Clarke establishes. Clarke seems to care more about describing various bits of technology than talking about people. Sure, tech stuff and space stuff is cool, but it can be hard to care about any of that when you have no relatable characters to be attached to. Clarke really does do nothing to end the stereotype of people who like science-fiction as socially inept people who care more about machines than human beings...maybe this is where that stereotype came from, I don't know. These criticisms shouldn't give you the impression that I dislike this novel though. I thought it was great, despite a slow start and a slow ending. As I was expecting, it was filled with that sense of awe about the universe, technology and society which all good science fiction has; the chapters on Jupiter and Saturn are particularly powerful. As previously mentioned, Part 4, with Hal, is brilliant, and I also really liked the discussion in one chapter about what alien life forms might be like. Obviously, this needs to be read. I will update this review when I see the movie.more
A great classic of science fiction literature. I read this book for the first time following the movie (which I also just watched for the first time). I found the book really filled in a lot of the details that were missing from the movie and preferred it because of this. So easy to recommend this to others because it is such a classic story which has its roots in much of our science fiction culture today. It continues to stand well despite the 40 years and the only lesser quality is that it's been followed by greater science fiction.more
This is another perfect example of a book that I could still read and love despite having already seen the movie. Not that it's better than the movie (which I love), it just adds to the experience.. can't wait to read 2010.more
I enjoyed this book, although the end was rather difficult to follow. I thought the development of HAL was intriguing. Clarke follows in the footsteps of Asimov as he pushes readers to consider 'what if' with regard to artificial intelligence.more
I had seen the movie several times before reading this book and I was pleasantly surprised at how readable and interesting the book was even when I already knew the general plot of the story. Clarke has an easy to read writing style that keeps your attention throughout the entire book while still painting a nicely detailed world. I enjoyed how grounded the science-fiction was. I highly recommend this book to anybody who enjoyed the movie.Several reviews mention that the book gives too much away, in contrast to the movie which leaves viewers puzzled as to what actually happened. Yes, the book spells things out much more, but the mystique and grandeur of it are not compromised and instead, I have a new appreciation for Clarke's vision without much of a loss and appreciation for Kubrick's realization of that vision.more
Read all 66 reviews

Reviews

I can't really add anything that hasn't been said about this science fiction classic. It holds up quite well for it's age (a problem that faces most science fiction), and is an essential companion to the Kubrick film. By it's very nature, the book goes into much more detail than the film, and while there are a few subtle differences (the DISCOVERY is en route to Saturn instead of Jupiter, for instance), the big change is Bowman's journey through the Star Gate. The book gives a much clearer explanation that the rather psychedelic voyage of the film, and for that reason alone this short novel is well worth your time.
more
well its kind of confusingmore
I remember who lent me this book in HS, in what class, and the fact that I read the last page at his suggestion. That single page pushed me into a three to four year spiral of sci-fi reading that changed my life. perhaps not for the better or the worse, but changed I was. Mind-bending lit tends to attract we introspective, depressed nerds, but this book had such power that nothing else I read really struck me as hard (maybe Larry Niven's The Mote in God's Eye, but even that was a different fascination -- and I only read that one once). But Clarke introduced me to Niven and eventually I found myself buying stacks of used sci-fi.

I mean, what better compliment than "this book made me read more"? Only John Steinbeck can share that distinction in that point of my life.more
Purchased this first edition ten years or so ago. It was autographed! Now my brother is looking after the book. First read 2001 in HS. Remember seeing the movie when it was first screen--rocked my mind.more
This was my first introduction into scifi books. It was nothing like i would have expected from the stereotypical scifi genre, it was rather bland in my opinion but had an abundant amount of intriguing thought behind it. This book written in the years spanning 1964-1968 and finally being published in 1968 can still be considered what the future might hold even now in 2013. We have made great leaps in space exploration but still nothing like what had been imagined by Arthur C. Clarke. I look forward to reading his two subsequent sequels. This book is not recommended for those who want the normal scifi, it is an "intellectual" SiFi and requires some deep reflection on the readers part.more
"The thing's hollow--it goes on forever--and--oh my God!--it's full of stars!" - Astronaut David Bowman's final message to Earth.Arthur C. Clarke's "2001: A Space Odyssey" is an epoch-spanning imagining of humankind's first contact with alien life. Most people know the core story from Stanley Kubrick’s film of the same title. What's less known is that the book and screenplay were produced in parallel; Clarke and Kubrick working closely together on both. This edition of the book includes a foreword by Clarke, which provides insights into the story's production. He describes an early conversation with the great director, where Kubrick tells him, "What I want is a theme of mythic grandeur." Clarke certainly delivered. The story revolves around a monolithic stone-like entity that simply appears on earth 3 million years before modern times. The obelisk explores the mental and physical "skills" of individual man-apes, identifying which have the capacity to carry forth their subtly enhanced genetics. And while the movie is known for it's groundbreaking cinematography and special effects, in equal parts with its story-telling vagaries, Clarke's exposition-strong style draws a clear picture of how this alien-borne object was built to experiment, prod and alter the life forms it finds. Not wholly through the serendipity of natural selection, but through delicate alien modifications, do these man-apes take the first tentative steps down their evolutionary paths. The alien interference is subtle; it provides sort of an evolutionary jump-start and then disappears as suddenly as it appeared. Clarke writes, "…the man-apes had been given their first chance. There would be no second one; the future was, very literally, in their own hands."One of the first gifts of enlightenment explored by the man-apes is the use of tools, and the actualization that they can be used to defend…and kill. A clear theme throughout, Clarke writes on the impact of the human propensity towards violence. Using the monolith's suggestion for the man-ape's adoption of tools as the starting point, Clarke writes that the physical and mental abilities to lay waste to nature and man, up close and at a distance, has defined human evolution -- from the first Promethean spark of consciousness through his fictional 2001 and beyond.The novel jumps to the late 20th century. Man has uncovered a monolith buried deep below the surface of the moon. Once the 3 million year old object absorbs the first rays of the sun, a burst of energy explodes towards space. After millions of years of solitude, humankind inadvertently pulls the trigger on its next major evolutionary leap. The burst of energy blows through the solar system targeted at a small moon orbiting Saturn.Contextually, this story was written during the dawn of the space age. Russian satellites had orbited the earth and Kennedy had rallied America behind its own goals to put a man on the moon. Science and technology were at the forefront of culture. Consideration of the possibility of alien life was a natural outcome of this collective thought. Clarke explores one of the most common themes in science fiction, that of 'First Contact': "The political and social implications were immense; every person of real intelligence--everyone who looked an inch beyond his nose--would find his life, his values, his philosophy, subtly changed. Even if nothing whatsoever was discovered about (the monolith), and it remained an eternal mystery, Man would know that he was not unique in the universe. All futures must now contain this possibility."The final third of the story follows astronaut David Bowman aboard a spaceship powering towards the destination of the moon-monolith's energy burst. The memorable HAL-9000 accompanies Bowman on his journey and despite the supercomputer-character's renown, fills only a relatively brief portion of the book. HAL represents a step on the continuum of humankind's evolutionary ascent. It represents the convergence of man and machine. As man developed machines to enhance his existence, he took a step further by transferring human consciousness to machine, which, to dire results, includes all of man's neuroses and psychoses.I thoroughly enjoyed the slow build to human-like sentience of HAL. Following its very purposeful deceptions and murder, HAL says to Bowman rather innocently, "is your confidence in me fully restored? You know that I have the greatest possible enthusiasm for this mission."Clarke's novel evokes the very familiar pacing and mood of Kubrick's film. The details are rich, the exposition extensive and all encompassing. The book finishes with a much more satisfying conclusion than the movie. Clarke actually provides an explanation for the sequences of Bowman's final interactions with the alien intelligence, and his own fate. His conclusion satisfies years of frustrated confusion with Kubrick's final scenes.more
Since I'm not living under a rock, I've seen the movie "2001" A Space Odyssey" a few times. Knowing that the screenplay and the novel were developed by Arthur C. Clarke simultaneously, I thought I knew what to expect. But I was blown away by how much more I enjoyed the novel than the film.Much of the framework of the story is the same (the major exception being the ending) but it is told in a very different manner (as events are happening rather than through an investigation afterward.) There is strong and interesting story telling here and a better explanation of why events are happening. I found the book fascinating and deserving of its reputation of as a science fiction classic.more
Even though the book was released after the famous film directed by Stanley Kubrick debuted, it would be a mistake to consider it a novelization of the movie. Actually, Clarke and Kubrick collaborated on both the screenplay and the novel, and Kubrick’s name was originally supposed to appear on the cover as co-author. But Kubrick got caught up with filming, and Clarke finished the novel on his own. That’s why there are some noticeable — but not, in my opinion, critical — differences between the novel and the film. Some details were changed during filming for story purposes or because the original idea was too difficult to shoot. For instance, the location of the second monolith was moved from one of Saturn’s moons to orbit around Jupiter because Kubrick could not figure out how to realistically depict Saturn’s rings on film. (This was before Cassini, remember.)However, if you somehow missed both the movie and the book, I would recommend reading the novel only after seeing the movie first, and only if you don’t mind a lot of explanation for what happens in the movie. For me, Clarke’s novel augments my understand of Kubrick’s film and helps me understand the movie’s many abstract concepts: What are the aliens? What are their motives? Why did the HAL 9000 go crazy? How was Dave Bowman transformed and what is the significance of his transformation?Clarke’s writing style is restrained and focused, making this short novel very readable. The best sections are the final two, aboard the spaceship Discovery during HAL’s breakdown and Dave’s encounter with the monolith. Clarke effectively conveys the paradoxical emotions of space travel: the boredom and tedium of space flight; the thrill of exploring worlds so beautiful and alien that it is almost impossible to comprehend them; and the extreme isolation and loneliness of being millions of miles from all other members of the human race. The sequence where the HAL 9000 computer loses its mind is particularly chilling, just as in the movie. And the description of Dave’s journey into the monolith is awe-inspiring, yet Clarke keeps us tethered to the universe and concepts we can understand.It’s rare that both a great film and a great book can be produced in tandem; I can’t really come up with another example. The only flaw is perhaps the dated title. We’re now a decade past the pivotal title year, and about as far from building a moon base or putting people on Mars as we could be, much less mounting a manned expedition to the outer solar system. Well, just ignore the date, or consider this an alternate history instead of a vision of the future. What if our evolution had been guided by godlike aliens undertaking a multi-million-year experiment? Would be better off today, post-2001?more
I should, I suppose, rate this as a classic. But despite how memorable and iconic it is, I have always found it, and Kubrick's movie version, to be rather cold. Clarke wrote other novels and short stories that are a lot more enjoyable.more
Obviously 2001 is a classic and any self respecting sci-fi fan will give it a read. However, I don't feel like it imparts much more to the reader than the movie does. If anything, by explaining some of the symbolism and events that the movie leaves to the imagination, the book takes away some of the mystery and emotion from the story.Also at times Clarke is a bit heavy handed with his visions of the (then-to-be) future, and while many of his predictions actually did come true in reality, this overuse feels dated and slows the tempo of the story to me as a modern day reader. The story is still very good, but I feel like the best sci-fi should be timeless.more
As a novel, 2001 is by far the best of the series, the other books simply relay certain events of a future that is completely believeable and realistic. As individual books, though, the sequels are lagging in the quality department, relative to 2001. That one should be required reading for anyone who considers themselves a SF fan, but the sequels exist only for the readers interested enough to see what a genius like Clark can imagine.An odd thing to quantify, how to phrase a recommendation of the series. They are good stories from a great imagination, but if SF isn't your cup of tea then the sequels are honestly best left at the bookstore. They are simply a vehicle for his idea of a future world of space faring and space living humans, really.more
Humans are always asking the age old question of whether we are alone in this universe. This question is the one question that continually drives us to look outside ourselves, to explore the worlds beyonds, and to test the limits of human ingenuity. The premise of 2001 is that there is intelligence out there and we are by no means alone. Since the dawn of mankind as a conscious entity, our evolutionary path has been tampered with, altered, and ultimately advanced upon with the intervention of "beings" not from our world. Our existence may be a natural process that came to be over millions of years, but our advancements, is by no means natural.Half way through the book, I realized with a shock that there is minimal to no character development whatsoever in the book. Despite the fact that I knew nothing about the characters's family, history, or development, which is a rarity in most books, I was still thoroughly intrigued by the plot and direction of the book. Perhaps it is my unabashed curiosity about space travel and exploration, but despite not really connecting with the characters (since there was nothing to connect with), the overall premise of our evolutionary development being experimented with at one specific point in history, and that causing irrevocable changes in our species had me completely sold and wanting to find out what happens in the subsequent sequels to the book.more
The movie 2001 is one of my favorites and I figured it was time to read the book. The first thing I noticed, especially at the beginning, was that you get a much better understanding of what is happening in the movie. I always found the ape-man sequence at the start of the movie a bit confusing, but after reading the book it makes a lot more sense. The end of the movie still is a bit unclear and the book only helps minimally because the ending is a bit different. The book includes more details about various aspects found in the movie, but it also has a major difference; the Discovery crew goes to Saturn and not Jupiter. Perhaps not the most important detail, yet Clarke changes it up in his sequel, 2010, and follows the movie, not the book. In short, if you like the movie, you will like this book.more
Its better than good. It comes with some great baggage which helps it along. It's obviously difficult to disentangle it from the film. Having seen the film first, like most I suspect, you find the celluloid images and atmospheres informing the text. This is not negative; it was my appreciation of the film that encouraged me to take on the book.It is more intelligible than the film.I'm fascinated by the openess of the ending. There isn't ,as far as I can see, a definite direction the future will go. He's left it hanging. I wasn't expecting that. (But then it wasn't possible to expect anything with the film as a precedent.)more
Clarke is a favorite author, but 2001 isn't really a favorite for me among his novels--but that might have something to do with my introduction to this story. My mother dragged me to see the 2001 film when I was five-years-old. I found the psychedelic odyssey among the stars terrifying and cried until my mother was forced to leave the theater before the film ended. Ever after she'd tell the story of how I was a brat and I'd tell the story of how she was callous. So, to a child that last part of the film is terrifying. As an adult? Well, I don't recall my reaction when I saw the film next, or if I had read the novel by then, but I imagine the reaction of most would be what Clarke relates in the introduction. He reported Rock Hudson left the film asking "Can someone tell me what the hell this is all about?"I'm betting that is what sends a lot of people to this novel--and Clarke says some even complain the novel ruins the "mystery" of the film. It was interesting by the way learning this was in a sense a novelization of the film. On the title page it says this is: Based on a screenplay by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke. Although it in turn was based on a short "The Sentinel" and what Clarke says was material from five other shorts, the novel was simultaneously developed with the film; it's impossible to read this without constantly thinking of the film. Naturally given their origins, they're very faithful renditions of each other, but that only underlines what different experiences they are--the film versus the text. The written form being far less ambiguous and the film more concise.I think that's particularly brought home by the Part I, "Primeval Night" through the point of view of "Moon-Walker"--a "man-ape" ancestor to humans. I think the film wins here: the eerie music of the obelisk, the brilliant way Kubrick with the toss of a bone tool into the air turns it into a space shuttle going to the moon--in an instance saying everything needed about the passage of three million years. For me reading the novel pays off in the last part, "Through the Stargate" because I do find the mystifying end to the film more confusing and thus annoying than inspiring. And here the novel clarifies things immensely.more
I saw the movie first, which, although I loved it, was quite bewildering.Then, shortly after I read the book and quite a few blank spots were filled in.For me this was *the* introduction to science fiction, and I thank Mr. Clarke for hauling me in!I still read the book every few years, and it never fails to enthrall me!!more
I'm glad I finally read this classic. I later found out that it differs substantially from the movie with regards to major plot elements. Not having seen the movie I can't comment on which is better. Overall, it was an interesting, enjoyable read if not truly gripping.more
'At the moment, we do not know whether to hope or fear. We do not know if, out on the moons of Saturn, you will meet with good or with evil - or only with ruins a thousand times older than Troy.'I was surprised to find that the story makes sense! Next time I see the film (which I have already seen more than once), I will actually understand what is going on. Stanley Kubrick may have been a genius, but he managed to miss out all the explanatory linking sections of the book from his film.more
2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the most universally loved science-fiction books out there, and for that reason, I had to pick it up and give it a read. I can see why it's loved, but it's not without it's flaws (though minor they may be).The plot is both unique and interesting and Clarke really ropes you in during the first few chapters that set the stage for what is to come. I did, however, think the story was a bit slow in developing at times - Clarke seems to get distracted by the scenery in a few places and, at least for me, I found myself ready to move on and get back to the story before Clarke himself seemed to be.Other than that minor complaint, the writing is quite good. Clarke doesn't really let you get emotionally involved in the main characters, but somehow that seems to work - you're roped in more by the actual story itself which is unique, gripping and at times a bit frightening.more
See the movie. Read the Book. The frontpiece to the book describes it as based on the screenplay by Arthur C Clarke and Stanley Kubrick. It would seem that the movie was being made in conjunction with the writing of the novel. The movie being released some months before the novel appeared due to rights issues.Like many people I have seen the movie both at the cinema and on TV and so the question for me was; how does the book hold up after familiarisation with the movie? Well it holds up pretty good. I have always been confused by the ending to the movie, but it all becomes perfectly clear in the book. It's almost worth reading for this reason alone. The book is well written with enough suspense contained in the familiar story line to keep you reading. Where the novel takes off however is in the brilliant description of the journey through the stargate. The novel was originally published in 1968 at the height of the American space program and I think this benefits the novel in a number of ways. Clarke captures the feel for astronauts working in space, the meticulous care that was needed, the training that had to be undergone by the kind of people that regularly appeared on our TV screens at that time. He has made Dave Bowman almost as famous as the moon astronauts Its always fun to look back at sci fi novels published in the sixties to see how accurate they were in predicting the future. Well obviously we hadn't made made any discoveries of alien artifacts by 2001 and Clarke's prediction of a working moonbase being established in 1994 was way off target. However he was more accurate when talking about handheld newspads being standard and that; "the more wonderful the means of communication, the more trivial, tawdry or depressing its contents seemed to be" Thank you Arthur.more
This was a great start to a wonderful series. HAL was intriguing. The whole concept was profound.more
Science fiction is something I've been wanting to get seriously into recently, and as a result I think most of the novels I have read this year have been Sci-Fi. So of course I would need to become familiar with what seems to be considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest, science fiction stories ever. The only thing I knew about this novel before I read it was HAL9000, so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. (I haven't seen the movie yet either.) What I got was a fairly great novel, which certainly leaves me wanting to read the rest of the series, and other Clarke novels, but which I do think was somewhat flawed. I hardly need to describe the plot of this novel, so I'll just get into it. The first problem with 2001: A Space Odyssey is that it is quite clear that Clarke pulled this together from a number of different short stories. I didn't actually know that this was the case while I was reading the novel, but I was entirely unsurprised to learn this when I'd finished it. The transitions between the different parts of the novel can hardly be described as 'smooth' for the most part. There's not much in the way of segueways, and so for the first two-thirds of the novel I was a bit uncertain of the direction the novel was going in. I sort of was, but I couldn't be sure if I wasn't about to be thrown somewhere else with totally different characters, and a plot whose link to what had been previously occurring I would not be sure of. The result is a novel that's very up-and-down and takes a long time to 'settle'. What's even more of a problem is that the novel appears to be building toward some frenzied climax with all that occurs with Hal...and then it slows right down again. What follows isn't at all bad, but it seems anti-climatic in comparison to the sudden burst of intensity, and does make things seem a little boring at times. The second major issue, which follows on from this first problem, is that 2001 kind of lacks a main character. David Bowman eventually emerges as this toward the end, but Clarke really doesn't establish him as someone I can care about very well. We're only given emotional insights into this character on a couple of occasions, and these aren't exactly brilliant. Most of the time I felt rather disconnected from him. It's also annoying how Dr. Floyd is well established as a main character in Part Two, and then he disappears for almost all of the rest of the novel. I would've liked some sections interspersed where we learnt about what was happening on Earth more, particularly relating to the interesting, but largely unexplored, political situation Clarke establishes. Clarke seems to care more about describing various bits of technology than talking about people. Sure, tech stuff and space stuff is cool, but it can be hard to care about any of that when you have no relatable characters to be attached to. Clarke really does do nothing to end the stereotype of people who like science-fiction as socially inept people who care more about machines than human beings...maybe this is where that stereotype came from, I don't know. These criticisms shouldn't give you the impression that I dislike this novel though. I thought it was great, despite a slow start and a slow ending. As I was expecting, it was filled with that sense of awe about the universe, technology and society which all good science fiction has; the chapters on Jupiter and Saturn are particularly powerful. As previously mentioned, Part 4, with Hal, is brilliant, and I also really liked the discussion in one chapter about what alien life forms might be like. Obviously, this needs to be read. I will update this review when I see the movie.more
A great classic of science fiction literature. I read this book for the first time following the movie (which I also just watched for the first time). I found the book really filled in a lot of the details that were missing from the movie and preferred it because of this. So easy to recommend this to others because it is such a classic story which has its roots in much of our science fiction culture today. It continues to stand well despite the 40 years and the only lesser quality is that it's been followed by greater science fiction.more
This is another perfect example of a book that I could still read and love despite having already seen the movie. Not that it's better than the movie (which I love), it just adds to the experience.. can't wait to read 2010.more
I enjoyed this book, although the end was rather difficult to follow. I thought the development of HAL was intriguing. Clarke follows in the footsteps of Asimov as he pushes readers to consider 'what if' with regard to artificial intelligence.more
I had seen the movie several times before reading this book and I was pleasantly surprised at how readable and interesting the book was even when I already knew the general plot of the story. Clarke has an easy to read writing style that keeps your attention throughout the entire book while still painting a nicely detailed world. I enjoyed how grounded the science-fiction was. I highly recommend this book to anybody who enjoyed the movie.Several reviews mention that the book gives too much away, in contrast to the movie which leaves viewers puzzled as to what actually happened. Yes, the book spells things out much more, but the mystique and grandeur of it are not compromised and instead, I have a new appreciation for Clarke's vision without much of a loss and appreciation for Kubrick's realization of that vision.more
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