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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.
Mallory F.
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 Jan 30, 1968
ISBN: 9780795330704
List price: $8.99
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I was into this book right until the very end when it went completely off the stratosphere and became incomprehensible to me. The premise was great, the conflict was excellent, and the rising drama had me spellbound until the climax made me sit back and go "Huh?" It was definitely memorable, though.read more
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What can be said? The best science fiction book ever! I saw the movie as a kid, read the book 25 years latter. The book is fascinating and the way the story is told creates an ethereal ambiance.read more
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I was into this book right until the very end when it went completely off the stratosphere and became incomprehensible to me. The premise was great, the conflict was excellent, and the rising drama had me spellbound until the climax made me sit back and go "Huh?" It was definitely memorable, though.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
What can be said? The best science fiction book ever! I saw the movie as a kid, read the book 25 years latter. The book is fascinating and the way the story is told creates an ethereal ambiance.read more
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Have you ever seen the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey and wondered what the heck was going on? The book by Arthur C. Clarke explains everything. I’m so relieved! I feel so enlightened that I now know what’s happening in the movie. I had to watch it immediately online through Netflix after finishing the book. I love the book, and I love the movie even more now. If you think I’m going to give away the book’s secrets, you’re mistaken. You’ll have to read it and see for yourself. I will say that it has a bit in common with one of my former favorite tv shows, Stargate SG-1. That was surprising, and the only hint I’ll give.1968, 236 pp.Rating: 4.5read more
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Arthur C. Clarke provides an entertaining and philosophical look into the origin of human intelligence and its next step in evolution. Beginning the novel in 3 million BC and then jumping to the near future Clarke's science fiction reflection of the human psyche is certainly worth reading. Clarke wrote the novel in conjunction with the Stanley Kubrick movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. Together, these works provide a very interesting look into the early conflicts of primate development and the later conflict between man and his own intelligent creation, the powerful HAL 9000 computer.read more
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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.read more
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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.read more
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I absolutely LOVE the space odyssey books. S'all I have to say.read more
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This book was selected by members of the 7th grade Lunch Bunch Book Club. I was pleasantly surprised. The book begins in prehistorical times when a "rock" appears that seems to be studying early humans. There is a nice symmetry between this early scene and the end of the book. In 2001, another monolith is discovered buried on the moon. This sets off the mission to find the origins of the monolith. The book gave our group lots to discuss. Now I want to see the movie!read more
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A handsome anniversary edition of the best film novelization, evar.read more
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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.)read more
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Earlier this year I made a vow to read all of the Space Odyssey books before 2010 rolled around, because it is the year the sequel to 2001 is named after and I needed a kick in the pants to read the series. I'm glad I did. I'm a big fan of hard science fiction, where all of the futuristic content can be backed up by solid science or speculation on future technologies. In the late Sixties no one was in a better position to write this book than Clarke. I enjoyed the book greatly for this reason, he knows his material and it shows. If you aren't interested in the minutiae of Lagrange points or the details of how space travel works you should steer clear of this book (maybe use it's gravity to slingshot in a faster trajectory around it). There are two main plots and sources of drama: the Monolith and its mysterious masters and the tragic tale of HAL 9000. Some people get hung up on one or the other in trying to decide if it's Frankenstein in Space or some heretical book questioning the Creation myth and most modern religions. It is both and more plus a lesson on nuclear propulsion. It can be very dry as human drama doesn't seem to be Clarke's strong point at this period of his writing. It certainly doesn't hold his interest. The synthetic HAL 9000 acts with more pathos and humanity than Bowman or Poole. This book is great for being ahead of its time as well as being the best at what it does. Not for everyone perhaps but I did not waste my time on it. If the ending of the movie version confused you, reading this book will make you 60% less confused. Return to movie and repeat as often as desired.read more
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"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.read more
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Ground breaking science fiction by the master.read more
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The ending is weird and fuzzy. What I like about the book is its main premise (the monolith mystery) and Hal 9000 which (or whose?) moral standard was not tested for by the Turing test.read more
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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.read more
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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.read more
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'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.read more
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After puzzling over Stanley Kubrick's movie adaptation all those years, I was surprised at how straightforward this book is compared with the movie. Yes, strange and wonderful things happen but Clarke explicates them while Kubrick puts them beyond our ken. Isn't it usually the other way around? Hollywood always seems to spoon feed when authors try to make you think. Well at any rate, I enjoyed reading this book version.read more
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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.read more
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A classic Sci Fi book that was created concurrently with the movie and is different from the movie in a number of plot areas. Highly recommended. HAL the computer is a classic.(BTW if you take the previous letter in the alphabet from IBM you get HAL - spooky!)read more
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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.read more
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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.read more
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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.read more
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I saw the movie first on a school trip and, in a vague 7th-grader sort of way, could appreciate that it was arty and well-done, but it confused the heck out of me and wasn't really what I thought of as science fiction. Thank goodness for the book, which I read a few months later, as now I had some idea of what was going on in those last scenes. :-)Anyway, I think this is a book worth the time to read. It's about Clarke's usual theme of human evolution but, unlike Childhood's End and others, it's less straightforward. Much of the tale is only implied, left to the reader's imagination to fill in. This bit of mystery works very well and is, in my opinion, one of the major good points of the work. It's why I think that 2010: Odyssey Two and the other sequels were mistakes...they take away a lot of that. It's why seeing the movie doesn't detract from the book, since the movie captures even more of that feeling. In fact, I think I was exposed to this the right way: see the movie first and then read the book as a companion.What I can't understand...given that the movie and the book were written together...is why they don't have the same story. Is someone confused about Saturn and Jupiter being two different planets?read more
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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.read more
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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.read more
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Possible spoiler alert:Before I read this book in high school, I'd heard great things about it. The book didn't excite me- I'm more a fantasy person than sci-fi, and, though I guess he's asking all manner of deep and important questions (where did we come from, what will we evolve into, what happens when artificial intelligence evolves, etc.?) I didn't connect to the story, so I didn't care. The movie I liked even less- all that classical music while he floats around- bleh! This one definitely didn't do it for me.read more
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I was into this book right until the very end when it went completely off the stratosphere and became incomprehensible to me. The premise was great, the conflict was excellent, and the rising drama had me spellbound until the climax made me sit back and go "Huh?" It was definitely memorable, though.
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What can be said? The best science fiction book ever! I saw the movie as a kid, read the book 25 years latter. The book is fascinating and the way the story is told creates an ethereal ambiance.
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I was into this book right until the very end when it went completely off the stratosphere and became incomprehensible to me. The premise was great, the conflict was excellent, and the rising drama had me spellbound until the climax made me sit back and go "Huh?" It was definitely memorable, though.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
What can be said? The best science fiction book ever! I saw the movie as a kid, read the book 25 years latter. The book is fascinating and the way the story is told creates an ethereal ambiance.
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Have you ever seen the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey and wondered what the heck was going on? The book by Arthur C. Clarke explains everything. I’m so relieved! I feel so enlightened that I now know what’s happening in the movie. I had to watch it immediately online through Netflix after finishing the book. I love the book, and I love the movie even more now. If you think I’m going to give away the book’s secrets, you’re mistaken. You’ll have to read it and see for yourself. I will say that it has a bit in common with one of my former favorite tv shows, Stargate SG-1. That was surprising, and the only hint I’ll give.1968, 236 pp.Rating: 4.5
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Arthur C. Clarke provides an entertaining and philosophical look into the origin of human intelligence and its next step in evolution. Beginning the novel in 3 million BC and then jumping to the near future Clarke's science fiction reflection of the human psyche is certainly worth reading. Clarke wrote the novel in conjunction with the Stanley Kubrick movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. Together, these works provide a very interesting look into the early conflicts of primate development and the later conflict between man and his own intelligent creation, the powerful HAL 9000 computer.
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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.
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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.
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I absolutely LOVE the space odyssey books. S'all I have to say.
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This book was selected by members of the 7th grade Lunch Bunch Book Club. I was pleasantly surprised. The book begins in prehistorical times when a "rock" appears that seems to be studying early humans. There is a nice symmetry between this early scene and the end of the book. In 2001, another monolith is discovered buried on the moon. This sets off the mission to find the origins of the monolith. The book gave our group lots to discuss. Now I want to see the movie!
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A handsome anniversary edition of the best film novelization, evar.
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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.)
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Earlier this year I made a vow to read all of the Space Odyssey books before 2010 rolled around, because it is the year the sequel to 2001 is named after and I needed a kick in the pants to read the series. I'm glad I did. I'm a big fan of hard science fiction, where all of the futuristic content can be backed up by solid science or speculation on future technologies. In the late Sixties no one was in a better position to write this book than Clarke. I enjoyed the book greatly for this reason, he knows his material and it shows. If you aren't interested in the minutiae of Lagrange points or the details of how space travel works you should steer clear of this book (maybe use it's gravity to slingshot in a faster trajectory around it). There are two main plots and sources of drama: the Monolith and its mysterious masters and the tragic tale of HAL 9000. Some people get hung up on one or the other in trying to decide if it's Frankenstein in Space or some heretical book questioning the Creation myth and most modern religions. It is both and more plus a lesson on nuclear propulsion. It can be very dry as human drama doesn't seem to be Clarke's strong point at this period of his writing. It certainly doesn't hold his interest. The synthetic HAL 9000 acts with more pathos and humanity than Bowman or Poole. This book is great for being ahead of its time as well as being the best at what it does. Not for everyone perhaps but I did not waste my time on it. If the ending of the movie version confused you, reading this book will make you 60% less confused. Return to movie and repeat as often as desired.
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"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.
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Ground breaking science fiction by the master.
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The ending is weird and fuzzy. What I like about the book is its main premise (the monolith mystery) and Hal 9000 which (or whose?) moral standard was not tested for by the Turing test.
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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.
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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.
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'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.
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After puzzling over Stanley Kubrick's movie adaptation all those years, I was surprised at how straightforward this book is compared with the movie. Yes, strange and wonderful things happen but Clarke explicates them while Kubrick puts them beyond our ken. Isn't it usually the other way around? Hollywood always seems to spoon feed when authors try to make you think. Well at any rate, I enjoyed reading this book version.
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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.
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A classic Sci Fi book that was created concurrently with the movie and is different from the movie in a number of plot areas. Highly recommended. HAL the computer is a classic.(BTW if you take the previous letter in the alphabet from IBM you get HAL - spooky!)
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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.
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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.
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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.
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I saw the movie first on a school trip and, in a vague 7th-grader sort of way, could appreciate that it was arty and well-done, but it confused the heck out of me and wasn't really what I thought of as science fiction. Thank goodness for the book, which I read a few months later, as now I had some idea of what was going on in those last scenes. :-)Anyway, I think this is a book worth the time to read. It's about Clarke's usual theme of human evolution but, unlike Childhood's End and others, it's less straightforward. Much of the tale is only implied, left to the reader's imagination to fill in. This bit of mystery works very well and is, in my opinion, one of the major good points of the work. It's why I think that 2010: Odyssey Two and the other sequels were mistakes...they take away a lot of that. It's why seeing the movie doesn't detract from the book, since the movie captures even more of that feeling. In fact, I think I was exposed to this the right way: see the movie first and then read the book as a companion.What I can't understand...given that the movie and the book were written together...is why they don't have the same story. Is someone confused about Saturn and Jupiter being two different planets?
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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.
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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.
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Possible spoiler alert:Before I read this book in high school, I'd heard great things about it. The book didn't excite me- I'm more a fantasy person than sci-fi, and, though I guess he's asking all manner of deep and important questions (where did we come from, what will we evolve into, what happens when artificial intelligence evolves, etc.?) I didn't connect to the story, so I didn't care. The movie I liked even less- all that classical music while he floats around- bleh! This one definitely didn't do it for me.
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