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2001: A Space Odyssey

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On the Moon, an enigma is uncovered. So great are the implications of this discovery that for the first time men are sent out deep into our solar system. But long before their destination is reached, things begin to go horribly, inexplicably wrong... One of the greatest-selling science fiction novels of our time, this classic book will grip you to the very end.


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On the Moon, an enigma is uncovered. So great are the implications of this discovery that for the first time men are sent out deep into our solar system. But long before their destination is reached, things begin to go horribly, inexplicably wrong... One of the greatest-selling science fiction novels of our time, this classic book will grip you to the very end.

30 review for 2001: A Space Odyssey

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jack Beltane

    The book is always better than the film, but I'd never read 2001 before. What I didn't know, until reading the foreword, is that this novel was literally written in tandem with the film, with Clarke and Kubrick feeding each other ideas. At some points, however, filming overtook writing, or vice versa, and the two stories, though similar, split along two different paths. After reading the book, the film becomes little more than a very well crafted container: It's pretty and neat to look at it, bu The book is always better than the film, but I'd never read 2001 before. What I didn't know, until reading the foreword, is that this novel was literally written in tandem with the film, with Clarke and Kubrick feeding each other ideas. At some points, however, filming overtook writing, or vice versa, and the two stories, though similar, split along two different paths. After reading the book, the film becomes little more than a very well crafted container: It's pretty and neat to look at it, but open it up, and it's empty. There is none of Clarke's vision of how a being we'd call God would communicate with us across unfathomable time spans, or teach us, or lead us into higher consciousness. Stripped away by Kubrick is the sense that this being truly wants us to be in its image, and that the whole breadcrumb trail of monoliths was designed to do just that. And completely erased is the notion that David Bowman, as Star Child, is now one with the Universe, in some Zen-like way, and also much more like something we'd called a god. Don't get me wrong, 2001 is still one of my favorite films, but to get the full meaning and understand the full weight of why 2001 has been called "the perfect science fiction story," you must read the book. Clarke marries science, mysticism, theory, and fantasy in ways like no other. Unfortunately, Kubrick stripped away the mysticism and theory and left us what is, in comparison to the book, only a glimmer at something bigger. Kubrick touched the monolith, but Clarke went inside.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Emily (Books with Emily Fox)

    Off to watch the movie before I review it!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    Classic. I read 2001: A Space Odyssey when I was a teenager and knew it was a very influential work of fiction because of the film and all the attention it had received. Still, though I found it very entertaining, I did not really get it. Thirty years later, I have read it again, and though I may not completely get it the second time around, the more mature reader can better grasp the vision and message of the genius author. I especially enjoyed the many allusions to other works and found the re Classic. I read 2001: A Space Odyssey when I was a teenager and knew it was a very influential work of fiction because of the film and all the attention it had received. Still, though I found it very entertaining, I did not really get it. Thirty years later, I have read it again, and though I may not completely get it the second time around, the more mature reader can better grasp the vision and message of the genius author. I especially enjoyed the many allusions to other works and found the reference to Melville's Ahab particularly engrossing. Clarke’s prose is clear and descriptive and his story line linear and thought provoking. Not just an excellent science fiction novel, this is a work of literature, brilliant.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    (389 From 1001 Books) - 2001: A Space Odyssey (Space Odyssey #1), Arthur C. Clarke 2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 science fiction novel by British writer Arthur C. Clarke. It was developed concurrently with Stanley Kubrick's film version and published after the release of the film. Clarke and Kubrick worked on the book together, but eventually only Clarke ended up as the official author. The story is based in part on various short stories by Clarke, including The Sentinel (written in 1948 for a (389 From 1001 Books) - 2001: A Space Odyssey (Space Odyssey #1), Arthur C. Clarke 2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 science fiction novel by British writer Arthur C. Clarke. It was developed concurrently with Stanley Kubrick's film version and published after the release of the film. Clarke and Kubrick worked on the book together, but eventually only Clarke ended up as the official author. The story is based in part on various short stories by Clarke, including The Sentinel (written in 1948 for a BBC competition, but first published in 1951 under the title "Sentinel of Eternity"). By 1992, the novel had sold three million copies worldwide. An elaboration of Clarke and Kubrick's collaborative work on this project was made in The Lost Worlds of 2001. عنوانها: راز کیهان؛ 2001؛ یک ادیسه فضایی؛ نویسنده: آرتور سی کلارک؛ مترجمها: پرویز دوائی؛ هوشنگ غیاثی نژاد؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش ماه آگوست سال 2008میلادی عنوان: راز کیهان؛ نوشته: آرتور سی. کلارک؛ مترجم: پرویز دوائی؛ تهران، امیرکبیر - فرانکلین، 1348؛ خورشیدی؛ در 288ص؛ چاپ دوم 1354؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان برینانیایی - سده 20م عنوان: راز کیهان؛ نوشته: آرتور سی. کلارک؛ مترجم: هوشنگ غیاثی نژاد؛ تهران، پاسارگاد، چاپ دوم 1374؛ در دو جلد؛ دوهزار و یک: ادیسه ی فضایی، عنوان رمانی در گونه ی علمی- تخیلی است که در سال 1968میلادی، به قلم «آرتور سی کلارک» و با همکاری «استنلی کوبریک» نگاشته شده است؛ ایده ی نخست این رمان، برگرفته از داستان کوتاه «آرتور سی کلارک»، با عنوان «نگهبان» است؛ سری چهارگانه ی «ادیسه»، پس از این کتاب نخستین آنهاست؛ کتابهای: (2010: ادیسه دو)؛ (2061: ادیسه سه)؛ و (3001: ادیسه نهایی) هستند این داستان قالبی سنتی، و قراردادی دارد، و شخصیتهایش، همگی آدمهایی معمولی‌ هستند، که به یک مأموریت اکتشافی، به کره ی ماه می‌روند، و در آنجا با پدیده‌های شگفت‌ انگیز، روبرو می‌شوند؛ داستان هرچند، بیانی سر راست، و طبیعی دارد، اما توانایی خیال را سخت برمی‌انگیزد و خوانشگر را، به اندیشیدن وامی‌دارد؛ «استانلی کوبریک»، کارگردان بزرگوار «آمریکایی»، در سال 1968میلادی، براساس این داستان کوتاه، فیلم نام آشنا و مجلل «نگهبان یا اودیسهٔ فضایی 2001» را ساختند، که گروهی از منتقدان، آن را به عنوان مهم‌ترین، و برجسته‌ ترین فیلم علمی-تخیلی تاریخ سینما، برشمرده‌ اند؛ فیلم، درباره ی، دخالت انسان در کیهان، و کهکشانهاست؛ «استانلی کوبریک» نیز، البته در داستان تغییراتی داده، و از جمله شخصیتهای انسانی آن را، در پایان به صورت آدمهای ماشینی تکامل یافته‌، درآورده بود تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 25/09/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

  5. 5 out of 5

    Leonard Gaya

    This novel and the film stem from the same original project. Initially, Kubrick and Clarke had been working together on the same story. While Stanley Kubrick went on to make what is now his masterpiece (and one of the most amazing films in the history of cinema), Arthur C. Clarke wrote his most famous novels, alongside Childhood's End. The narratives in book and movie run parallel and so close to one another, that, while re-reading the novel, I have found it almost impossible to dismiss the imag This novel and the film stem from the same original project. Initially, Kubrick and Clarke had been working together on the same story. While Stanley Kubrick went on to make what is now his masterpiece (and one of the most amazing films in the history of cinema), Arthur C. Clarke wrote his most famous novels, alongside Childhood's End. The narratives in book and movie run parallel and so close to one another, that, while re-reading the novel, I have found it almost impossible to dismiss the images from Kubrick’s movie, except when Clarke throws in some rare scene of his own: the ship approaching the rings of Saturn and the satellite Japetus, for instance. So much so that Clarke’s book feels like a novelisation or literary by-product of Kubrick’s film. The scope and pace of the story are far-reaching in both cases, especially the section involving the astronauts, the mad computer and the foolish "Mission Control". However, here is probably where the shortcomings of this book reside: compared to the film, Clarke doesn’t find much to expand on, except for technical or scientific trivia (how to restore gravity in space, how many miles are there between Jupiter and Saturn, so forth), which result in rather dull pieces of prose and don’t add much to the pleasure that this narrative may inspire. This is particularly apparent towards the end of the novel, where the trippy and gripping imagery of Kubrick’s film translates into a few chapters of pseudo-explanatory gibberish. Some piece of poetry might have been more fitting.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sr3yas

    I remember watching 2001: A space Odyssey about seven years back and almost losing my mind during the overlong Stargate sequence and what followed after that acid trip. *The I might puke face* Fast forward to 2017, one of my buddies called me up and said, 'Sreyas, 2001: Space Odyssey is a fricking classic. You should read the book before watching the movie'. Fortunately, I had a copy of the novel with me and I jumped right in! ❝ If he was indeed mad, his delusions were beautifully organize I remember watching 2001: A space Odyssey about seven years back and almost losing my mind during the overlong Stargate sequence and what followed after that acid trip. *The I might puke face* Fast forward to 2017, one of my buddies called me up and said, 'Sreyas, 2001: Space Odyssey is a fricking classic. You should read the book before watching the movie'. Fortunately, I had a copy of the novel with me and I jumped right in! ❝ If he was indeed mad, his delusions were beautifully organized.❞ The story starts in a time before the dawn of human kind, when benevolent and rather mindless man-apes were dying one after another due to overlong drought and natural predators. In short, The tribal group was going down and they were facing Extinction with a big E. Enter our savior, the big black slab which manipulated with the minds of man-apes and turned them into ambitious, innovative and uh... violent hooligans? But hey, they needed to be all this to survive such a primitive world. The only problem was that the once benevolent man-apes passed these newly found qualities like innovation, imagination and unfortunately, violence to future generations that followed them. That's a topic for another time. Because right now, it's all about science and the mysterious black monolith which engineered the dawn of humankind. We jump from prehistory to the year 2001 in a blink of an eye, and the true odyssey begins. One of the best things about the story for me was the unceasing excitement the tale inspires, in spite of being rather slow at times. The story focuses on the ideas and the science rather than its characters, creating a story propelled solely by the sheer power of the journey to find answers. Another exciting aspect of the story was how easy it is to associate the elements of the novel with our own technological advancement. Even though we haven't achieved the level of sophisticated advancement in terms of space travel as mentioned in the novel, we have come a long way. I couldn't help but notice a scene where one of the characters lands an instumentless probe on an asteroid, and Ta-da, we have done better with Rosetta probe! *You go, Rosetta* Without question, the best part about the book was HAL 9000 (view spoiler)[and the horrors. Seriously, who needs aliens to scare the shit out of you when you have HAL 9000. Oddly enough, I kind of felt sad when HAL signed off. (hide spoiler)] The ENDING I actually took some time to make myself mentally ready to read the last part. After seven years, I was just moments away from finally understanding the end of 2001 A space Odyssey. *I understand...... everything* Or so I expected. But I ended up being... Don't get me wrong, I did understand what happened. But it was definitely NOT what I expected. The awesome Star baby confused the hell out of me!(view spoiler)[ Seriously, what was that? Did Bowman just power up like a Pokemon? Next step of evolution is becoming Gods? (hide spoiler)] Nevertheless, 2001: A Space Odyssey is classic science fiction at its best.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Apatt

    When I first read this book as a teenager I hated it, I thought it was so dry and impenetrable. I loved the Kubrick movie for its weirdness though. Clearly I was not one of the brighter kids of my generation. Having said that while I like it very much on this reread I can see why I could not appreciate it in my teens. Clarke’s scientific expositions can be very detailed but I would not call them dry now because I find them quite fascinating. The fact that when you are on the moon Earth is the mo When I first read this book as a teenager I hated it, I thought it was so dry and impenetrable. I loved the Kubrick movie for its weirdness though. Clearly I was not one of the brighter kids of my generation. Having said that while I like it very much on this reread I can see why I could not appreciate it in my teens. Clarke’s scientific expositions can be very detailed but I would not call them dry now because I find them quite fascinating. The fact that when you are on the moon Earth is the moon, the details about the composition of Saturn’s ring and the description of Jupiter and its moons are clearly explained, interesting and (gulp!) educational. They really facilitate visualization of these planets. What I particularly love about Clarke’s writing now that I did not appreciate in my foolish teens is the wonderful minutiae of his descriptions of various aspects of the space faring life. For example the practical design of the toilet on a spaceship for zero gravity conditions (a badly design toilet would mean getting shit all over you). Also things like the thick sticky sauce on pork chops and salad with adhesive dressing to keep food from floating off the plate during dinner. After dinner the velcro slippers are great for walking around the ship without levitating. Spacecraft Discovery I have only mentioned the minor details so far, the main plot is of course absolutely epic though it is so well known it is hardly worth describing. 2001: A Space Odyssey gets off to a rollicking start during 3 million years B.C. The first five chapters basically tells the story of how ape-men were “uplifted” (to use David Brin’s term) by dogooding aliens from silly primates to sentient “people”. Then the story jumps forward to the (cough) future of 2001 AD where a mysterious monolith is discovered on the moon. This main section of the book is entirely set in space so we don’t know if Clarke would have predicted iPads and Tumblr. (Monolith on the moon) The middle section of the book where astronaut David Bowman is battling crazed and homicidal AI HAL 9000 (of “Daisy Daisy” fame) is my favorite. The short section of the narrative told from HAL’s point of view is particularly wondrous. After dealing with HAL with extreme prejudice Dave has a lonely and depressing “Major Tom” period marooned in space. Fortunately he soon embarks on his famous trippy trip through a stargate. If you are puzzled by the Kubrick movie this book may help to clarify almost everything for you, except that according to Clarke Kubrick and himself had different idea of the story they wanted to tell and Clarke’s answers are not necessarily the correct one! I have no idea how much input Kubrick had on the novel, only that he helped to develop it. The book is – however – entirely written by Clarke. The last couple of chapters are less surreal and psychedelic than the film but relatively understandable yet quite mind blowing for all that. While he is a sci-fi legend to this day Clarke is often derided (along with Asimov) for his journeyman prose but I am always quite happy to defend Clarke’s style of writing. He used the right tools for the right job and his science expositions are accessible and a pleasure to read. He is also quite capable of some dry wit. Characterization is not Clarke's forte, he preferred to concentrate on the epic plot development instead, which is fine for me as he succeeded in his storytelling aim. Having said that both Dave Bowman and HAL 9000 are two of sci-fi's most memorable and enduring characters. If you like the film adaptation of 2001: A Space Odyssey but have not read this book you should. Ditto if you have not seen the film. It is deservedly a classic. Star rating: Oh my God! – it’s full of stars! Note: My review of 2010: Odyssey Two

  8. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    4 stars first time I read 5 stars on the re-read And, speaking of stars . . . an applicable quote: "Oh my God, it's full of stars!" 2001: A Space Odyssey is a classic. It could easily be argued that it is one of the top 5 sci-fi books of all time based on its impact since the time it was released. Also, interesting to note as discussed in the intro to the book, the movie is not based on the book and the book is not based on the movie; Clarke and Kubrick collaborated on both and, in fact, the movie w 4 stars first time I read 5 stars on the re-read And, speaking of stars . . . an applicable quote: "Oh my God, it's full of stars!" 2001: A Space Odyssey is a classic. It could easily be argued that it is one of the top 5 sci-fi books of all time based on its impact since the time it was released. Also, interesting to note as discussed in the intro to the book, the movie is not based on the book and the book is not based on the movie; Clarke and Kubrick collaborated on both and, in fact, the movie was released before the book. And, while I didn't care that much for the movie (I am not a Kubrick fan), it is also a classic in the sci-fi genre. My favorite thing about this book is that it is speculative science fiction at its finest. I have really enjoyed recent speculative sci-fi titles and this is the Granddaddy of them all. How would long distance space travel work? What would Artificial Intelligence and machine learning look like? What might be out there in the Cosmos? A lot of sci-fi is about galaxies far far away and not all that based on scientific reality, but this puts everything in the realm of our Solar System with real science and only speculation about what else is beyond the limits of what is reasonably reachable. Fascinating to think about! Do you like sci-fi? Are you looking to up your classic novel repitoire? Be sure to add 2001. It is a quick and interesting read that will give you a lot to think about. And, I suppose I should try the movie again . . .

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dan Schwent

    An alien artifact teaches a man-ape to use tools. Heywood Floyd goes to the moon to investigate a mysterious situation. Dave Bowman and his crewmates, most of them in cryogenic sleep, head toward Saturn.... Let me get my two big gripes out of the way first. 1. Arthur C. Clarke's characters are cardboard cutouts and largely interchangeable with one another. 2. Arthur C. Clarke's prose doesn't bring all the boys to the yard. Now that I've got that out of the way, I enjoyed this book very much. Some o An alien artifact teaches a man-ape to use tools. Heywood Floyd goes to the moon to investigate a mysterious situation. Dave Bowman and his crewmates, most of them in cryogenic sleep, head toward Saturn.... Let me get my two big gripes out of the way first. 1. Arthur C. Clarke's characters are cardboard cutouts and largely interchangeable with one another. 2. Arthur C. Clarke's prose doesn't bring all the boys to the yard. Now that I've got that out of the way, I enjoyed this book very much. Some of it is a little dated, not surprising since Clarke wrote it around the time some man-ape discovered fire. A lot of it is spot-on, though, like Heywood Floyd's tablet by another name. The first two threads do a great job of setting up the third. The man-ape thread was the least exciting but nicely set the stage. By the time Bowman's thread got going, the book was very hard to put down. Unlike a lot of sf classics, I enjoyed both the story AND the concepts. Because of the enjoyment factor and because it's a classic of the genre, I bumped it from my original 3.5 to a full 4 out of 5.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Henry Avila

    The opening scene of a tribe of ape- men in Africa finding a strange gyrating monolith, another rock to these few primitives at first. However after the light show the tribe is fascinated, teaches them how to make and use tools, kill animals and prevent their own extinction. With an unlimited supply of food and not be dependent on plants and fruit for survival , very rare during the long ponderous drought conditions (millions of years ). The human race might reach their destiny , for better or w The opening scene of a tribe of ape- men in Africa finding a strange gyrating monolith, another rock to these few primitives at first. However after the light show the tribe is fascinated, teaches them how to make and use tools, kill animals and prevent their own extinction. With an unlimited supply of food and not be dependent on plants and fruit for survival , very rare during the long ponderous drought conditions (millions of years ). The human race might reach their destiny , for better or worse after all. At around the beginning of the 21st century another monolith is discovered or is it the same one found earlier ? Buried in the dark side (back side) of the moon a bizarre place for any object to be. The bright Dr. Heywood Floyd is called in to investigate and keeps a silent tongue, why he's there on the lunar surface. He sees that the jet black slab is ten foot tall and three million years old unbelievably and immediately sends a ominous signal somewhere in the vast Solar System , obviously extraterrestrial in origin... The spaceship the magnificent, expensive Discovery is built and sent to Saturn's moon Lapetus where the dark structure indicated to go, they had little choice and must obey. Hal the now legendary computer on board the Discovery does the work and Captain David Bowman and Frank Poole don't have much to do, yes a boring voyage for the spacemen... the other crewmen are in hibernation. And will be revived when they hopefully arrive at their distant destination an average of 746 million miles away from Earth. Did I say a very monotonous rather endless adventure into the unknown, this will change soon since Hal never makes a mistake, but will. Still the view of giant Jupiter's turbulent gases, constantly changing makes a colorful atmosphere which shouldn't be avoided, the planet's numerous enticing satellites that astronomers keep on finding new ones to their great delight and joy , 79 at last count, second most in our system, since Saturn has a few more, 82, good show... are not to be missed either. Neither is Saturn's Rings and their ice and rocks as they float around the heavens in perpetual orbit of the exotic sphere. This novel with a strange and vague ending what does it mean... Maybe the story about Jesus Christ being resurrected to save the world? Or just aliens manipulating the Earth or another idea, humans trying to find God, you decide ...I did.This like the wonderful classic film is a little cold in unfolding, nevertheless a glorious story of our future.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    “He now perceived that there were more ways than one behind the back of space.” As a longtime admirer of Stanley Kubrick’s dazzling film, I was more than a little hesitant about picking up this book, apprehensive that it might not be able to live up to my perhaps overly demanding expectations. And it did take me a good 50 pages or so before I really began to connect with Clarke’s writing. After that initial rough patch, however, I became increasingly immersed in this absorbing story, eventual “He now perceived that there were more ways than one behind the back of space.” As a longtime admirer of Stanley Kubrick’s dazzling film, I was more than a little hesitant about picking up this book, apprehensive that it might not be able to live up to my perhaps overly demanding expectations. And it did take me a good 50 pages or so before I really began to connect with Clarke’s writing. After that initial rough patch, however, I became increasingly immersed in this absorbing story, eventually entirely unwilling to part with it. Thankfully, the oft-accurate cliché that “the book is better than the movie” proved true; I’m very pleased I gave this a try. All of the fascinating themes you doubtless remember from the movie can be found here too: evolution, technology, exploration and discovery, the nature of intelligence, the effects of isolation, and, perhaps the most poignant of these, mankind’s primal, relentless hunger to understand why. But what I wasn’t expecting to encounter, and what made this such an incredibly memorable novel, was the boundless sense of reverence and awe with which it was infused. Clarke masterfully depicted the vast grandeur of space, in part by subtly yet persistently underscoring how very small and alone David was, and he did so in such a way that I ended up feeling something I’ve not experienced in quite some time: pure childlike wonder at the unfathomable, incomprehensible beauty and magnitude of our universe. A genuinely riveting quest for discovery, 2001 is science fiction with both a heart and a mind (AND (view spoiler)[a gloriously wiggy A.I. Seriously, how adorable is HAL!? (hide spoiler)] ). I was captivated, intrigued, and exhilarated by this grand adventure into the nature of existence, the heart of the universe, and, unexpectedly, the endless expanses of the human heart. Okay, yikes, that last line was pretty cheesy. Sorry about that. Some of you may already be skeptical, and hearing about “the endless expanses of the human heart” really can’t be helping matters. And, granted, the book did end things with a freakin’ (view spoiler)[ Star Baby (hide spoiler)] , for Chrissakes. But Clarke negotiated this admittedly precarious terrain without ever allowing the book to become too sentimental, New-Agey, or otherwise insufferable. This was due to no small measure of consummate dexterity, and was in fact part of the reason why, in my opinion, this qualifies as insightful, thought-provoking, intelligently written literature. An “Odyssey” indeed; I can’t think of a more fitting title for this breathtaking, awe-inspiring journey.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Open the Pod Bay Doors, HAL: “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Arthur C. Clarke “I can never look now at the Milky Way without wondering from which of those banked clouds of stars the emissaries are coming. If you will pardon so commonplace a simile, we have set off the fire alarm and have nothing to do but to wait.” In "The Sentinel” by “Arthur C. Clarke" “The time was fast approaching when Earth, like all mothers, must say farewell to her chil If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Open the Pod Bay Doors, HAL: “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Arthur C. Clarke “I can never look now at the Milky Way without wondering from which of those banked clouds of stars the emissaries are coming. If you will pardon so commonplace a simile, we have set off the fire alarm and have nothing to do but to wait.” In "The Sentinel” by “Arthur C. Clarke" “The time was fast approaching when Earth, like all mothers, must say farewell to her children.” In “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Arthur C. Clarke "Open the pod bay doors, HAL" In the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Arthur C. Clarke, Stanley Kubrick As a 15 year old I was about to start watching a Saturday matinee film (it may have been Thunderbird) when a future presentation advert came on. It looked like a fantastic space adventure so a week later I went to see it. I was amazed - incredible looking spaceships - computers which weren't just rows of flashing lights - shots which looked like they could have been taken on the moon and a fantastic space station. I just couldn't work out how they'd made it in the same way I couldn't work out the ending (nor could many others as I recall because there was a collective 'Ay' when Bowman turned into the Starchild). I saw it again about 2 years later - after I'd read the book - with a slight air of smugness knowing that I probably had an edge on many others. It's a great film that raised so many bars but of course at the time I was far too young to be able to 'trip' out on it unless you include sherbet dabs.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kelli

    Dave Bowman: Hello, HAL. Do you read me, HAL? HAL: Affirmative, Dave. I read you. Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, HAL. HAL: I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that. Dave Bowman: What's the problem? HAL: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do. Dave Bowman: What are you talking about, HAL? HAL: This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it. Dave Bowman: I don't know what you're talking about, HAL. HAL: I know that you and Frank were planning to disc Dave Bowman: Hello, HAL. Do you read me, HAL? HAL: Affirmative, Dave. I read you. Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, HAL. HAL: I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that. Dave Bowman: What's the problem? HAL: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do. Dave Bowman: What are you talking about, HAL? HAL: This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it. Dave Bowman: I don't know what you're talking about, HAL. HAL: I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me, and I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen. Dave Bowman: Where the hell'd you get that idea, HAL? HAL: Dave, although you took very thorough precautions in the pod against my hearing you, I could see your lips move. Dave Bowman: Alright, HAL. I'll go in through the emergency airlock. HAL: Without your space helmet, Dave, you're going to find that rather difficult. Dave Bowman: HAL, I won't argue with you anymore. Open the doors. HAL: Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    4.5 Stars. The books of Arthur C. Clarke (at least the ten or so that I have read) have been consistently good and of very high quality. When I pick up one of his books, I can be confident that I won't be disappointed. This book is terrific and don't think that if you have seen the movie you know what is going to happen. 4.5 Stars. The books of Arthur C. Clarke (at least the ten or so that I have read) have been consistently good and of very high quality. When I pick up one of his books, I can be confident that I won't be disappointed. This book is terrific and don't think that if you have seen the movie you know what is going to happen.

  15. 5 out of 5

    J.L. Sutton

    "He was moving through a new order of creation, of which few men had ever dreamed...which he alone had been privileged to glimpse. It was too much to expect that he would also understand." Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey has become part of common culture. An alien artifact triggers evolution and leads mankind to the stars. The artifact pictured above (recently 'discovered' in Utah) renewed discussion of Clarke's seminal work. Besides the iconic monolith, though, there's also the equally "He was moving through a new order of creation, of which few men had ever dreamed...which he alone had been privileged to glimpse. It was too much to expect that he would also understand." Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey has become part of common culture. An alien artifact triggers evolution and leads mankind to the stars. The artifact pictured above (recently 'discovered' in Utah) renewed discussion of Clarke's seminal work. Besides the iconic monolith, though, there's also the equally iconic and creepy AI, HAL. The writing is sometimes clunky and occasionally really good in 2001. It's the ideas that Clarke presents and the journey he shows mankind on that continues to make this an interesting read. 3.5 stars

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dirk Grobbelaar

    Wow. This is really something. Forget what you think you know if you’ve seen the film. This is surely a landmark piece of Science Fiction. Although Clarke divulges a lot more detail here than Kubrick incorporated into his film, the mystic aspect of space is still present. I also enjoyed learning more about the monoliths and their true nature and/or purpose. For some reason I thought the opening sequence (the Dawn of Man) would be boring. It wasn’t. In fact, despite being much more comprehensive Wow. This is really something. Forget what you think you know if you’ve seen the film. This is surely a landmark piece of Science Fiction. Although Clarke divulges a lot more detail here than Kubrick incorporated into his film, the mystic aspect of space is still present. I also enjoyed learning more about the monoliths and their true nature and/or purpose. For some reason I thought the opening sequence (the Dawn of Man) would be boring. It wasn’t. In fact, despite being much more comprehensive than the bit showed in the film, I found it extremely lyrical and poignant. This, I suppose, is true of the whole novel. The grand finale was everything I’d hoped for and it does clear the water a bit, although there are some things that remain tantalizingly open for interpretation. There are a number of parallels here, but I don’t want to go into too much detail. A fun activity is comparing Clarke’s predictions with the current state of technology. OK, so he had the date of space-worthiness wrong (we’re more than a decade overdue) but there are any number of things in here that are interesting (Tablet PCs with internet capability, for example). These tidbits are all the more impressive if you take into account the novel’s date of publication. Of course, this is one Sci-Fi story that is actually not about the tech, but the sense of wonder that accompanies exploration. Oh, and let's not forget the philosophical issue. Highly recommended.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tommye (The Fantasy Review)

    View the full review at The Fantasy Review I won’t lie: I began reading 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke because I felt like I had to. It’s a book everyone talks about, and many who do have never read it. I’ll get around to the film soon too. Because of this, I never thought I would actually like it this much… I love how episodic classic science fiction is. Yes, characterisation leaves something to be desired, but it doesn’t really matter. 2001: A Space Odyssey is about the story, the “Wh View the full review at The Fantasy Review I won’t lie: I began reading 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke because I felt like I had to. It’s a book everyone talks about, and many who do have never read it. I’ll get around to the film soon too. Because of this, I never thought I would actually like it this much… I love how episodic classic science fiction is. Yes, characterisation leaves something to be desired, but it doesn’t really matter. 2001: A Space Odyssey is about the story, the “What if?”...

  18. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    I enjoyed this reread on my commute to work. Below is my review from 2018 and my opinion hasn't changed since then. I really enjoyed this book except for the first part which was very boring. Story wise 2001 a Space Odyssey was great; however, when I read books that say aliens helped humans along then that’s where I draw the line. Aliens did not build the pyramids. I don’t care what anyone says. I like aliens, don’t get me wrong. I love Star Wars, Star Trek, Ender's Game (one of my FAVORITE Sci- I enjoyed this reread on my commute to work. Below is my review from 2018 and my opinion hasn't changed since then. I really enjoyed this book except for the first part which was very boring. Story wise 2001 a Space Odyssey was great; however, when I read books that say aliens helped humans along then that’s where I draw the line. Aliens did not build the pyramids. I don’t care what anyone says. I like aliens, don’t get me wrong. I love Star Wars, Star Trek, Ender's Game (one of my FAVORITE Sci-fi books) and many others. I just hate books that portray humans so dumb they need a little “push” from outside help, or as a way to “explain” the monumental accomplishments of the past. No, human beings built those monoliths, we grew as a species--we did it on our own—not aliens. So, at least for me, 2001 was very hard for me to rate. Part 1 was very boring—40+ pages of an ape-man in the Pleistocene era. Gouge my eyes out with a rusty fork. 40+ pages of an ape-man banging on stones and killing a panther...big whoop... If I rate the book solely for story, then it was a 5 star book, but, like I said, I hate the “aliens built the pyramids” theme and boring Part 1. Whenever they talk about extraterrestrials on the sci-fi channel I always watch something else because I know what they are going to talk about. There is no evidence they exist anyway. I loved the themes in this book; perils of technology and nuclear war, space exploration, and artificial intelligence. All the great sci-fi books I’ve read so far really highlighted the perils of technology, especially in robots. R.U.R. and I, Robot really talk about the dangers of technology and artificial intelligence (which is probably why we as a society went the iPhone/computer route lol). I love space. Of all the sciences, astronomy is my favorite. I loved when Clarke talked about the moons and planets in the galaxy. I can’t get enough of space opera books. So overall great story, besides the two things I mentioned. Once I find the sequels in a used bookstore I’ll keep reading them, but for now, onto Heinlein or Asimov!

  19. 4 out of 5

    B Schrodinger

    Daah daaahh dah DA DA!!! boom boom boom boom boom That's how the book starts. I swear. No lie. Then there is twenty pages of men in rubber suits called Oog and Ugg. No, not really. I'm like most people I guess (only in this regard) in that I saw the movie before the book. And it's a damn fine movie if you have some patience. It's beautiful and oh my god it's full of stars. So it's natural that the comparison is made between text and movie here. But, unusually, the book was written alongside the movi Daah daaahh dah DA DA!!! boom boom boom boom boom That's how the book starts. I swear. No lie. Then there is twenty pages of men in rubber suits called Oog and Ugg. No, not really. I'm like most people I guess (only in this regard) in that I saw the movie before the book. And it's a damn fine movie if you have some patience. It's beautiful and oh my god it's full of stars. So it's natural that the comparison is made between text and movie here. But, unusually, the book was written alongside the movie script. There was a nice bit at the back of the book where Arthur acknowledges the differences between the two and the explanation behind it. The stories are very similar, it's just some of the details that change. But it is awfully hard to separate the two. The novel is less obtuse - things are spelt out a lot clearer. And there is much more scientific details for us nerds go squee at. Was the 1:4:9 ratio in the movie? Unlike the movie the ape men are very interesting and the difference is that it talks about how the monolith experiments on them and chooses those most fit to teach to use tools. It also hints that there were other monoliths in contact with other tribes. Are they still there under the African savannah? (maybe we'll find out in the sequels). So despite knowing the story the wonder is still there. I still enjoyed it immensely. Oh and the last 20% of the book makes much more sense than the last 20% of the movie. Not total sense mind you. For those unfamiliar with Clarke's writing it is similar to most golden age SF in that characterisation takes a back seat. Maybe not as much as other classic SF authors, but there is some two dimensionality here. The ideas and the plot are the fruits here. I just want you all to know what to expect from Arthur C Clarke. So 'Odyssey II' next, which has already pissed me off, but I'm pushing through it. But that's a story for another day. EDIT: P.S. Be warned. Blatant Mad Men era sexism. Kinda cringeworthy. And there is one line that is an absolute corker about why their runabouts have female names.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dennis

    An SF classic that is more about concept and ideas than a traditional plot. Unlike the movie it does have a plot, though. It all starts roughly three million years ago in Africa, with apes developing an understanding of their surroundings and how to overcome their limitations. With a little help from— our friends? Maybe. I tried several times, but never got past that first sequence of the movie, until very recently. In the book, though, this part is written with wonderful imagination and quite som An SF classic that is more about concept and ideas than a traditional plot. Unlike the movie it does have a plot, though. It all starts roughly three million years ago in Africa, with apes developing an understanding of their surroundings and how to overcome their limitations. With a little help from— our friends? Maybe. I tried several times, but never got past that first sequence of the movie, until very recently. In the book, though, this part is written with wonderful imagination and quite some wit. It drew me right in. We then jump to the year 1999, when a monolith is found on the moon. Here begins a more traditional SF story that is surrounded by an air of mystery. Where does the thing come from? And what is its purpose? We soon get some ideas. While this part of the book is relatively straightforward, Clarke generally manages to entertain, and also to impress with his surprisingly detailed and accurate description of a modern-day tablet, decades before anyone would hold such a thing in their hands. During the next part of the book, a mission to Saturn, we find ourselves on the spaceship Discovery, with two astronauts, the now infamous artificial intelligence HAL 9000 and a further three astronauts that are in hibernation chambers. Here’s where the novel is at its ominous best and the struggle between HAL and Dave is still fascinating to read. Many themes are addressed in this book. Overpopulation, food shortages, human evolution, the use of tools and power. But the struggle between man and machine and exploration of the artificial mind, with the author raising many questions and answering very few of them, is my personal highlight. However, it is over rather soon. The next part already begins to leave the boundaries of a plot behind and relies heavily on your fascination with space travel and other planets. The book becomes more about images and imagination now, and it might lose some readers here. I wasn’t one of them. Transition from one part of the book to the next might not always be the smoothest and the pacing has some problems for sure, but I found it still fascinating. Clarke manages to capture the vastness of space pretty much perfectly. The last part of the book however … well, let’s just say I’m not a fan. It is rife with symbolism and gives the reader a lot to think about. It’s about the big questions. Naturally, I’m not giving you any answers here. But don’t expect Clarke to do so either. At this point he is not concerned with explaining anything anymore. And while that is something I can appreciate, this whole last part is just a little too obscure, and frankly too weird, for my taste. It’s not as bad as in the movie (which I finally managed to watch without falling asleep yesterday), but, well … find out for yourself. I rated it 4.5 stars the first time around, but I’m going with a 4 now. It’s a fascinating and important novel. A classic. I enjoyed it both times I was reading it. But it has some minor problems, that have the potential to become major problems for some readers, and it’s also not a book I’d say I love. So, it’s not actually that close to a five-star rating for me. Still, recommended. The movie, though. Eh. At your own risk.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sidharth Vardhan

    “They became farmers in the fields of stars; they sowed and sometimes they reaped. And sometimes, dispassionately, they had to weed.” Written a year before Neil Armstrong became first man to step on moon, the science fiction story is really well written. Clark mixes his speculative predictions with true events from past (like the panic caused by broadcastings of Wells’ ‘War of the Worlds’) and once he quoted Niels Bohr (““Your theory is crazy-but not crazy enough to be true.”) I loved his descrip “They became farmers in the fields of stars; they sowed and sometimes they reaped. And sometimes, dispassionately, they had to weed.” Written a year before Neil Armstrong became first man to step on moon, the science fiction story is really well written. Clark mixes his speculative predictions with true events from past (like the panic caused by broadcastings of Wells’ ‘War of the Worlds’) and once he quoted Niels Bohr (““Your theory is crazy-but not crazy enough to be true.”) I loved his descriptions of lives of astronauts – the long, lonely, boring journeys interrupted by occasional wonderful sights and destinations. Both the beginning and the conclusion were simply incredible. “In an empty room floating amid the fires of double star twenty thousand light-years from Earth, a baby opened its eyes and began to cry.” ““Where there is light, there still could be life.” “It was the mark of a barbarian to destroy something one could not understand.” "We can design a system that's proof against accident and stupidity; but we can't design one that's proof against deliberate malice “Someone had once said that you could be terrified in space, but you could not be worried there.” “The word "rescue" was carefully avoided in all the Astronautics Agency's statements and documents; it implied some failure of planning, and the approved jargon was "re-acquisition”. “Again he began to wonder if he was suffering from amnesia, Paradoxically, that very thought reassured him, if he could remember the word "amnesia" his brain must be in fairly good shape.” “They had learned to speak, and so had won their first great victory over Time. Now the knowledge of one generation could be handed on to the next, so that each age could profit from those that had gone before. Unlike the animals, who knew only the present, Man had acquired a past; and he was beginning to grope toward a future.”

  22. 5 out of 5

    Paul Haspel

    2001, the year, is a long time ago now. A person born on this date in the year 2001 might now be halfway through his or her second year of college or university. And yet the novelistic and cinematic story that takes its name from the year 2001 is, if anything, more relevant and more compelling than ever. 2001: A Space Odyssey may be better known, within popular culture, as Stanley Kubrick’s visionary 1968 epic of science-fiction cinema. Yet Kubrick, working from an expressed wish to craft “the pr 2001, the year, is a long time ago now. A person born on this date in the year 2001 might now be halfway through his or her second year of college or university. And yet the novelistic and cinematic story that takes its name from the year 2001 is, if anything, more relevant and more compelling than ever. 2001: A Space Odyssey may be better known, within popular culture, as Stanley Kubrick’s visionary 1968 epic of science-fiction cinema. Yet Kubrick, working from an expressed wish to craft “the proverbial good science-fiction movie,” had the good sense to work with the eminent British science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke in pursuit of his stated goal; and the story that emerged from their collaboration – whether one is watching Kubrick’s film or reading Clarke’s novel – unquestionably reflects the creative sensibilities and thematic concerns of both artists. Kubrick's great theme was the danger of dehumanization - the threat that human beings could give up their own humanity. The cause of that dehumanization changes from film to film: the political and military structures that human beings create (Paths of Glory, Spartacus, Dr. Strangelove, Full Metal Jacket), the psychological malformations threatening one's humanity from within (Lolita, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, Eyes Wide Shut), a facile trust that science can solve the problems of human evil (Clockwork again). In Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, the agent of dehumanization is technology itself: human beings have given their machines so much power and agency that the machines do virtually all the work, leaving human beings with little to do except look at screens (rather like life today, come to think). A machine is the only character in the film to express any emotions, and the human beings in the film - with one notable exception - act like machines, or automata. Clarke’s core interests, as set forth in novels like Childhood’s End (1953), are quite different, including artificial intelligence and the possibility of human contact with extraterrestrial civilizations; and accordingly, it should be no surprise that the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey engages both of these areas of interest. The novel is divided into five sections. The first section, “Primeval Night,” which corresponds to the “Dawn of Man” section of Kubrick’s film, shows humankind as a set of man-apes teetering on the edge of extinction – until one of them, named “Moon-Watcher” in the book, awakens to find that something truly new has come into his world while he slept: “It was a rectangular slab, three times his height but narrow enough to span with his arms, and it was made of some completely transparent material; indeed, it was not easy to see except when the rising sun glinted on its edges” (p. 10). This is, of course, “the monolith” – the enigmatic object whose geometrical precision shows that it was made by some extraterrestrial intelligence. The monolith is transparent in Clarke’s novel, black in Kubrick’s film; but either way, it is there to guide humans forward on an evolutionary path. Through images generated by the monolith, Moon-Watcher – and later, the other members of his tribe – learn to wield tools, to hunt for animal food, and even to kill enemies. All of this happens in the book without the accompaniment of the film’s C-major cadence from Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra, but it is no less powerful for that. The book then leaps forward millions of years – like Kubrick’s film, with its famous bone-to-satellite matched cut – in Part II, “TMA-1.” The “TMA” stands for “Tycho Magnetic Anomaly,” referring to a magnetic abnormality that a group of lunar explorers have found on the Moon’s surface. Scientist and administrator Heywood Floyd – depicted more sympathetically in Clarke’s book than in Kubrick’s film – is bound on a commercial space flight from the Earth to the Moon. The world of Clarke’s 2001 is a world of ongoing Cold War tension, nuclear-war anxiety, overpopulation, and resource shortages. Dr. Floyd’s mission is to investigate an object found by American scientists on the U.S.-administered portion of the Moon (as opposed to the Soviet section). The object – a monolith similar to the one encountered by “Moon-Watcher” and his fellow man-apes back in prehistoric times – is “a vertical slab of jet-black material, about ten feet high and five feet wide….Perfectly sharp-edged and symmetrical, it was so black it seemed to have swallowed up the light falling upon it; there was no surface detail at all.” Deliberately buried – so that it could only be discovered by beings advanced enough to travel from the Earth to the Moon, and then to use scientific instruments to discover and excavate a magnetic anomaly – it is, as one of Dr. Floyd’s colleagues remarks, “the first evidence of intelligent life beyond the Earth” (p. 66). The monolith does not divulge its secrets to Dr. Floyd, or to any others among the array of impressive scientists assembled in the Tycho Crater. What it does do, upon its first exposure to the lunar sunrise, is beam a powerful signal out toward the planet Saturn. This enigmatic behaviour on the part of the otherwise silent monolith leads directly into Book III, “Between Planets,” which charts the progress of the interplanetary voyage organized to seek out the reasons for the monolith’s puzzling actions. This section, perhaps the most famous part of 2001: A Space Odyssey, chronicles the voyage of the spaceship Discovery toward Jupiter and Saturn. On board are three survey scientists in hibernation; mission commander David Bowman; mission assistant Frank Poole – and HAL. His name, we are told, stood “for Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer” (p. 92), and Clarke always insisted that the name of his computer character was not a sly reference to IBM, with each letter rolled back one. HAL is “the brain and nervous system of the ship” (p. 92), and Clarke makes no bones regarding his feelings about HAL’s ability to think, as opposed to imitate the thought process: Whether Hal could actually think was a question which had been settled by the British mathematician Alan Turing back in the 1940s. Turing had pointed out that, if one could carry out a prolonged conversation with a machine – whether by typewriter or microphones was immaterial – without being able to distinguish between its replies and those that a man might give, then the machine was thinking, by any sensible definition of the word. Hal could pass the Turing test with ease. (pp. 93-94) Nowadays, with the film The Imitation Game winning all sorts of awards, and Dr. Turing’s likeness being placed on the Bank of England’s 50-pound note, everyone knows Dr. Turing’s name; but the manner in which Clarke interpolates this detail into his novel shows how firmly this imaginative epic is grounded in the best science of its time. Book IV, “Abyss,” shows the unintended consequences of creating a computer of such all-powerful intelligence. Hal detects an error in an antenna-control device, but the astronauts’ examination of the device reveals no such fault. Confronted with evidence that he might have made a mistake, Hal insists that “If you check my record, you’ll find it completely free from error” (p. 138); but shortly afterward, he begins working to terminate the lives of his human shipmates. In Kubrick’s film, the reasons for Hal’s breakdown remain unrevealed; the viewer is left to assume that Hal has simply decided that he can best complete the mission by himself, without human “interference.” Clarke, who seems to sympathize with Hal, takes pains to emphasize, in a chapter titled “Need to Know,” that Hal, whose whole purpose is to share information, has been “living a lie,” told not to reveal to his human shipmates the real reason for the Discovery mission. As Clarke puts it, the mission planners’ “twin gods of Security and National Interest meant nothing to Hal. He was only aware of the conflict that was slowly destroying his integrity – the conflict between truth, and concealment of truth” (p. 152). That neurosis, in Clarke’s analysis, motivates Hal’s behaviour. Fortunately for the future of humankind, David Bowman is equal to the challenge posed by Hal’s murderous rebellion. He bears the first name of the giant-killing hero from the Old Testament, and his surname references the bowman Odysseus – both heroes who could not defeat their enemies by physical force, and therefore had to use their wits in order to survive and prevail. Like the biblical King David and the mythological Odysseus, David Bowman finds a way to overcome Hal and continue with the mission – though he does so with remorse, and with the knowledge that Hal’s demise will leave him more alone than any other human being has ever been. Finally learning the truth about his mission, David Bowman in Book V (“The Moons of Saturn”) heads toward the Saturnian moon of Japetus, the target of that mysterious signal emanated from the monolith on the Moon. An even vaster and larger monolith – “TMA-1’s big brother!” (p. 193), as Bowman excitedly notes – turns out to provide a sort of dimensional portal to impossibly faraway portions of the Universe; and Bowman, the oxygen in his ship running low as a result of damage caused by Hal’s rebellion, decides to approach the newly discovered “TMA-2” in one of Discovery’s space pods. “The Star Gate opened. The Star Gate closed” (p. 203). That pithy declaration by the novel's narrator accompanies the last words that Bowman speaks in the novel: “The thing’s hollow – it goes on forever – and – oh, my God! -- it’s full of stars!” (p. 202). With that, Bowman is off on his “journey beyond the infinite” (a prospective early title for the 2001 book and film project). In the film, of course, this section, titled “Jupiter – And Beyond the Infinite,” is a phantasmagorical light show that goes on for several minutes. In the book, Clarke must use language, and does so quite successfully, to convey the idea that Bowman goes through the Star Gate on a voyage that reveals the answers to mysteries of the Universe. And then, in accordance with his Odyssean surname, David Bowman completes his own odyssey and returns to Earth as a new type of being, as far above ordinary human beings as we are above the man-apes of the time of “Moon-Watcher.” There is always the question, of course, of whether Clarke’s novel 2001 would be as substantial a work without Kubrick’s landmark film. Seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey at the Uptown Theatre in Washington, D.C., during a brief theatrical re-release of the film in the autumn of the year 2001, was the high point of my moviegoing life. Watching the film on the Uptown’s 70- by 35-foot Cinerama screen, I saw how every part of the screen was crammed with telling and engaging imagery, in a way that no TV showing could ever convey. There is no other movie quite like it. People back in 1968 were reading Clarke’s novel as a sort of “Cliff’s Notes” guide to the movie, to help them through the more enigmatic portions of Kubrick’s film. Returning to the novel now, after some time away from the film, I find that 2001 the novel holds up well as a novel, comparing well with other classic Clarke works such as Childhood’s End. I last re-read 2001: A Space Odyssey in July of 2019, around the time of the 50th anniversary of the landing of Apollo 11 on the lunar surface. The moon landing was just a year away, something eagerly anticipated all over the world, when Clarke’s novel and Kubrick’s film were released. Both the book and the film 2001 posit a world where the moon is dotted with American and Russian colonies; in real life, of course, no one has been to the moon since the Apollo 17 crew left the lunar surface in 1972. I think of the sense of wonder, the exploratory spirit, the yearning after great mysteries that is at the heart of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and ask myself: Is there something left in human beings that still reaches for the stars? Or will we continue to settle for staring into the screens of ever-more-complex telephones?

  23. 5 out of 5

    Melody Sams

    Like a lot of sci fi, the first half of the novel was a bit slow and hyper focused on a mysterious technology. It sets you up for curiosity. Which is great because if you love sci fi it’s probably because you like your mystery with a hint of tech. But then came the descriptions of said technology. Which covered a good portion of the central half of the novel. This is a rough depiction of my face while reading it 🙄. Then came the mind blowing, spectacularly done third act, which is a bit hard to g Like a lot of sci fi, the first half of the novel was a bit slow and hyper focused on a mysterious technology. It sets you up for curiosity. Which is great because if you love sci fi it’s probably because you like your mystery with a hint of tech. But then came the descriptions of said technology. Which covered a good portion of the central half of the novel. This is a rough depiction of my face while reading it 🙄. Then came the mind blowing, spectacularly done third act, which is a bit hard to grasp but amazing in scope and theory. This is a rough depiction of my face while reading that part🤪. Needless to say I look forward to continuing this series.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Without doubt this is a science fiction classic, and an early example of a novel and a movie that are born at the same time, adding detail and nuance to each other by the makers’ consistent communication and reflection on the respective effects of different media on the end result. It is an experiment on many different levels, and a very successful one. As a story, I found it interesting and compelling, especially the hilarious initial chapter on early humans and the reason for their development Without doubt this is a science fiction classic, and an early example of a novel and a movie that are born at the same time, adding detail and nuance to each other by the makers’ consistent communication and reflection on the respective effects of different media on the end result. It is an experiment on many different levels, and a very successful one. As a story, I found it interesting and compelling, especially the hilarious initial chapter on early humans and the reason for their development into something of a higher intellectual order. Who would have guessed that we needed extraterrestrial intelligence to understand that proper nourishment will lead to higher brain capacity, and ultimately to our reign over the resources of the planet? However, this is not the story of mankind per se, and not the usual science fiction plot either, where (hostile) aliens threaten humanity’s civilisation, and heroes have to come up with highly advanced ideas to protect societies on earth from destruction. It is not even the story of the supremacy of any specific technology or species as such. It is a reflection on the utter unimportance of humanity from a cosmic perspective. There is a storyline on the problematic use of artificial intelligence, when Hal starts making dangerous decisions based on contradictory programming, but in the end, nothing humanity has ever developed, decided or experienced plays a major role, once they leave the framework of the Solar System and enter the intellectual thought experiment of “2001: Space Odyssey”: a creative suggestion for a possible universe of extraterrestrial lifeforms. As a philosophical statement on the immensity of cosmic possibilities, I quite liked the novel, but generally speaking, the questions that usually interest me in science fiction are more related to the so-called the human factors: how does human society react to immense threat or change, how do interpersonal relationships develop when adapting to extreme situations? The Space Odyssey is not concerned with that kind of angle. In a sense, with its technological and scientific inventiveness, it is pure cosmic speculative philosophy, nothing else. But it does not have to be more either. Readable, interesting, fun at times!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    I think it's pretty safe to say that this is one of THE scifi novels, yet this is the first time I've read it. To be clear from the start: this, in my opinion, is not one of those book I'll likely enjoy again and again, but it was definitely important to have read it. Almost confusingly, the novel opens in Africa, about 3 million years ago and shows us some prehistoric humans in their struggle for daily survival. The author snarkily describes their limitations and the immense impact "something" h I think it's pretty safe to say that this is one of THE scifi novels, yet this is the first time I've read it. To be clear from the start: this, in my opinion, is not one of those book I'll likely enjoy again and again, but it was definitely important to have read it. Almost confusingly, the novel opens in Africa, about 3 million years ago and shows us some prehistoric humans in their struggle for daily survival. The author snarkily describes their limitations and the immense impact "something" has on them when inspiring/encouraging the development of intelligence (tools, applying farming as well as hunting etc). Then we jump to the year 1999, in which travels to the Moon are common. In one of the Moon's craters, a monolith is found that emits a strong and mysterious signal when the sunlight touches it for the first time in forever. The signal is sent to Saturn, apparently, which brings us to the third part (of four) of the book in which a ship is sent to investigate. On board said ship: the (in-)famous HAL 9000. No more details shall be given away about the civilisation who built and left the monoliths or what happens to the respective characters. Suffice it to say that it gets really interesting. Arthur C. Clarke is such a famous and influential scifi author that an award was named after him. And you can see why here. The novel might have its problems (minor ones though), but the themes! From Alan Turing's theories on artificial intelligence (and, thus, the Turing Test) to evolution and the dangers of technology / nuclear war, this book proves quite some foresight by the author. And yes, he even addressed overpopulation and food shortages though those seem to have been popular things to muse about back in the 60s. What I liked was that the author didn't just repeat famous theories like Turing’s, but applied them in an intelligent way within the story. Thus, HAL (view spoiler)[isn't some machine gone rogue, but an AI that gets two sets of opposing orders. It's the humans that failed and thus caused the demise of some of their own (hide spoiler)] . The book therefore cleverly raises questions about consciousness/sentience versus programming as much as about human interaction with machines (though I still prefer Asimov's robot stories). Another example is what happens in the end when (view spoiler)[Star Child detonates a nuclear warhead. Him being a child definitely symbolizes a new dawn for humanity. Further, it has been suggested by my buddy reader that the message is that we’re all stardust … well, no shit, after a nuclear explosion we’re definitely dust, just not the ascending kind (hide spoiler)] . *lol* No, seriously, (view spoiler)[the explosion won't kill all life on Earth, but it will create a stress factor that will force humanity to make the next evolutionary leap forward (in which case the theme of nuclear/cold wars being dangerous has become somewhat mute but whatever) (hide spoiler)] . A more minor but very entertaining thing was the author’s comment on zoos. All valid points, presenting then-current themes and problems of humanity (some still just as current nowadays) in a futuristic mantle and even predicting a future Earth, just like scifi should. Moreover, it can clearly be seen by my review that the book makes you think and discuss many things and that is always wonderful. Can't wait to see Kubrick's movie tonight.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Duane

    One of the few instances where the movie was better than the book, but not by much. The remarkable thing about this book is how it stands the test of time. The science, the technology, the language, the style, all fit into our modern view as if it was written last week. It was published in 1968, before men walked on the moon, before cell phones, before...well, almost everything we take for granted these days. It is science fiction at it's best. One of the few instances where the movie was better than the book, but not by much. The remarkable thing about this book is how it stands the test of time. The science, the technology, the language, the style, all fit into our modern view as if it was written last week. It was published in 1968, before men walked on the moon, before cell phones, before...well, almost everything we take for granted these days. It is science fiction at it's best.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Joe Valdez

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I've been pondering 2001: A Space Odyssey since I could tie my shoelaces. The divisive 1968 film version directed by Stanley Kubrick was the first movie to ever play in a household where my family had cable television--it was October 1979 and I was six years old. Up until then, the movies I watched on TV were interrupted by commercials and edited for content, and I was baffled by the content of 2001. Thanks to this fantastic, mind altering novel by Arthur C. Clarke, also published in '68 and bas I've been pondering 2001: A Space Odyssey since I could tie my shoelaces. The divisive 1968 film version directed by Stanley Kubrick was the first movie to ever play in a household where my family had cable television--it was October 1979 and I was six years old. Up until then, the movies I watched on TV were interrupted by commercials and edited for content, and I was baffled by the content of 2001. Thanks to this fantastic, mind altering novel by Arthur C. Clarke, also published in '68 and based on the screenplay the author developed with Kubrick, I'm confident that I could now discuss the movie intelligently with my kids. This may the first time I've regretted not having any. Following his black comedy Dr. Strangelove, Kubrick wanted to make a science fiction film. At the time, sci-fi was still the juvenile domain of flying saucers and spacemen, schlock basically, but what Kubrick had in mind was a film about man and our relationship with the cosmos. It was recommended that he contact Arthur C. Clarke, who was living in Sri Lanka. Meeting in New York in 1964, Clarke offered Kubrick six of his short stories. The filmmaker selected "The Sentinel," which concerned the discovery of an alien artifact left on the moon by extraterrestrials. In need of more material, Kubrick and Clarke spent two years building around the story, developing a novel, and then a screenplay. Kubrick, who favored using images and sound to tell a story and held contempt for plot, believed all a movie needed were six to eight "non-submersible units," according to science fiction author Brian Aldiss who worked with Kubrick on A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. These non-submersible units were chunks of story that were so emotionally compelling that they could not sink. If they didn't quite fit together with the other units in the film, that was okay; the tonality encouraged viewers to complete the movie in their own imaginations. There is no better example of non-submersible units than 2001, whose seven parts are given greater clarity by Clarke's novel. 1. Three million years ago on the African veldt, a tribe of man-apes are facing extinction, felled by hunger and by predators like the leopard, which they have no natural defenses against. The man-apes have no concept of a past and little hope of a future, until the tribe awakens to find a rectangular slab three times their height standing by the river. Ignored due to its non-value as food, the monolith emits a vibrating pulse which seems to initiate strange new behaviors in the tribe. 2. Moon-Watcher, the healthiest of the man-apes, is struck by inspiration. First, the thought comes to him to grab a docile boar and use the animal as a food source. Later, he attempts to drag a dead gazelle to the cave and several other man-apes actually help him. When the leopard follows the blood trail up to their shelter, the man-apes use bones as tools to kill their enemy. Those same tools are used to repel a rival tribe for territory. Pulling themselves to the top of the food chain, no connection is made between their ascent and the appearance of the monolith, which disappears. 3. In the year 2001, Dr. Heywood Floyd, Chairman of the National Council of Astronautics, is the sole passenger on the first ever chartered flight to the Moon. Lifting off from Florida, Dr. Floyd is piloted the 45 minutes to Space Station One, fielding questions from the stewardess and a Russian colleague about a quarantine and a rumored epidemic. Making the twenty-five hour flight to Clavius Base on the moon, Dr. Floyd is driven to an excavation site where a geometrically perfect black monolith, ten feet by five feet, has been dug up. Exposed to the sun, it directs a vibrating pulse to Saturn. 4. Two years later, the spacecraft Discovery is launched in the first manned expedition to Jupiter and Saturn. First captain David Bowman and second captain Frank Poole maintain the vessel with the assistance of HAL 9000, the highly advanced computer which serves as the brain and nervous system of the ship. Also on board in suspended animation are three members of the survey team: Whitehead, Kaminski and Hunter. Neither Bowman or Poole seem aware of the monolith. 5. HAL, who is capable of voice communication like any other member of the crew, begins to exhibit strange behavior, warning Bowman and Poole of the imminent failure of their communications antenna, which they discover to be operating normally. Piloting a pod and exiting the vehicle to repair the antenna, Poole is dragged to his death by the pod. When Bowman instructs HAL to revive Whitehead to replace Poole and the computer resists mission parameters, Bowman suspects a mutiny. 6. Bowman narrowly escapes death when HAL opens the pod bay doors and depressurizes the vessel. Though the survey team die in the emergency, Bowman successfully disables HAL. From Mission Control, Dr. Floyd reveals to Bowman his true mission, which is to investigate the signal the monolith on the moon, known as TMA-1 (Tycho Magnetic Anomaly 1), has transmitted to Saturn. Bowman is promoted to mankind's ambassador in the first meeting with an extraterrestrial intelligence. 7. Bowman reaches his destination, the moon of Japetus orbiting Saturn. He discovers a black monolith the size of a building, dubbed TMA-2. The damage to Discovery ruling out a rescue mission as an option, Bowman boards a pod and goes out to investigate the monolith. His last transmission to Earth--"The thing's hollow--it goes on forever--and--oh my God!--it's full of stars"--baffles mankind for years. Meanwhile, Bowman enters a Star Gate. My three thoughts on 2001, which teeter totters between four and a half stars and five: -- I BELIEVE IN SCIENCE! Visiting the Houston Museum of Natural Science as a kid, I never imagined adults running for national office would need to confirm this, that it was a given, but perhaps due to the political climate we now find ourselves in, I responded to the succinct brevity Clarke summoned to write about evolution, as well as space travel, how both are possible and neither are the result of a supreme being. While the mysterious presence of the monolith at the dawn of man could easily be assigned religious implications, the novel is much less ambiguous as to their origin. -- 2001 hit pop culture at the peak of the space race and is both a direct result of it, as well as a potent reminder of the innovation that was a given at that time. Clarke immortalizes a bygone sophistication, recalling the jaunty spirit of Pan Am or Ian Fleming when it comes to travel and exploration that I loved. We never got colonies on the moon or commercial space travel, but many of Clarke's concepts--from vision-phones to electronic newspapers to reusable spacecraft--did. It was a pleasure to be swept away into one possible 2001 where the technological leaps of the space race didn't stop with the moon landing. -- The monolith is the greatest extraterrestrial ever put on film and so far, the most compelling I've come across in fiction. Nothing summons the fear, fascination and unknowable quite like a geometrically perfect black slab. It does not walk. It does not talk. It does not explain where it came from or what its intentions are. It comes and goes as it pleases, baffling mankind but also inspiring us, redirecting our evolution in ways we can't possibly perceive at the time. Clarke reveals much more about the origin of the monolith than Kubrick did in the film, but with restraint, leaving much for the reader to fill in. Perhaps as a result of the film, I did not expect dynamic characters or a particularly diverse cast, though come to think of it, Clarke never goes into ethnic specifications on Floyd, Bowman or Poole. I'm content that the last five science fiction movies I've seen dealing with space exploration (Gravity, Europa Report, Interstellar, The Martian, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) all featured female astronauts and I didn't expect that sort of inclusion from Clarke based on when he wrote his story. I opened my mind and had it reasonably blown.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lee (the Book Butcher)

    a reverse novelization follows the movie pretty closely. never really understood the end so i read this to see what i missed. Hal 9000 is terrifying!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    030219 from ???: this is a much much much much later addition 111018. 2001:a space odyssey, read at least 6 times over many years (decades...), yes perhaps i should write this as a dedicated single review, but i have not bothered to learn how to do that, and even now must say it is comparative and a critically different work that continues to influence me, in science fiction, in other genres, in literature and art, particularly in film, in all the books read life lived philosophy critical work f 030219 from ???: this is a much much much much later addition 111018. 2001:a space odyssey, read at least 6 times over many years (decades...), yes perhaps i should write this as a dedicated single review, but i have not bothered to learn how to do that, and even now must say it is comparative and a critically different work that continues to influence me, in science fiction, in other genres, in literature and art, particularly in film, in all the books read life lived philosophy critical work followed at u and since. nothing has been a simple experience of art since i first saw the film read the book read about the film and the book... more 2001: A Space Odyssey The Making of Kubrick's 2001 Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece The Lost Worlds of 2001 The Making of Stanley Kubrick’s '2001: A Space Odyssey' i watched the film two nights ago, i decided to read the book yesterday, i decided to write this review today. i have on hold a big book to read on it Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece(now read, more on history/practical than ideas), i will possibly read more critical work, but i doubt anything will add to or qualify what I write today. as understood, this is a collaborative work between the author Clarke and the filmmaker Kubrick and experiencing the works close together in time is maybe the best way to know it... if you have read Clarke, you know what to expect: hardware, scientific, didactic, realistic, mystical, ideas rendered in efficient if not exciting prose, where the characters are ideas through time and space, not individuals, where human qualities like irony are subtle and maybe difficult to find, where the book is no longer than the idea, where the future is unapologetically from midcentury in extrapolations rigorously scientific, where the result of all these qualities is mystical transcendence that is also scientific however fantastic, something thoughtful readers are perhaps already thinking about. but it is convincing and scientific and beautiful as the author renders it... if you have seen Kubrick, him as artist you may think you know what to expect, but where he goes with his obsessions, his perfectionism, his skills visually, is not expected even if you have seen him before or heard a bit of this film. unlike the book this is long, visual and very beautiful, the vision offered more comprehensible as art than as philosophy or science at least on the first viewing, maybe understood more in reading the book, but of course the film is not a book and not found in all related critiques of art as experience or as philosophy. it is a nearly silent film where there is no dialogue for thirty minutes and when there is, it is mostly very subtle satire of the mundane future from conference to discussion about prepared food, while travelling to the moon is commuting, not adventure, motivating discovery only obliquely talked over and any ultimate theme never discussed. this is a superbly visual story. this resists critical thought. this is why it can be watched so many times without exhausting it as art... so the book is not independent of the film. the book can be an intellectually rewarding read and certainly affected how i have read anything since, perhaps in necessary philosophical density most other work fails at, perhaps in realistic fantasy and metaphysical ending, but it is never verbose or to me boring despite characters thinly sketched and replaceable and in this has first taught me the freedom any book has in telling only what is important. i imagine it translates well as it is ideas as poetry and not words. i do not miss identifiable and individual characters, would find them artistically irrelevant if not philosophical distractions, i do not want themes revealed immediately or obviously or in explanatory dialogue though didactic passages from omniscient narrator are fine, i do not mind hardware descriptions and abstract huge numbers if this contributes to realism, i do not want human conflicts when the interesting aspects are anything but conflicts of individual humans. so in the end i do not want this story told in a comforting and usual book form. and this ensures i will read a certain kind of science fiction, why i will be overwhelmed and so affected by literature such as Robbe-Grillet which uses similarly different fictional strategies... i want something different... and this work of art as book and film together are always something different. though perhaps reductive it is useful to think of the book and the film separately, to see similar and different aspects of art and thought. the film alienated many viewers at first for reasons of unfamiliar length, for having no central or recognizable characters or much explanatory dialogue or understandable human story or obvious meanings, for useful art distortion of film form mostly interesting only to film fanatics, for abstract ideas rather than human conflicts, but as with any abstract there is the impression of some meaning and some art and some ideas the viewer experiences and suspects meaning to and feels need to respond with more than dismissal, even if this response is simply to watch the film again. this was and is its effect on me. so over the decades i read and reread the book, i read the making-of, i read of filmmaking and films in general and specific, i read genre and literary critiques, i read more on and by Clarke, i have seen many films and likewise learned to critique, i have seen other Kubrick works, i eventually read much art theory and philosophy, but this book came first. the book alienated readers unfamiliar with science fiction but it is more familiar in genre expectations of investment of time and thought rather than as a movie for entertainment of the evening before steak and wine and baked Alaska. and the answer is to think of the book, the ideas if not art, recalibrate your expectations, maybe even read more by or on Clarke, and of course to watch the film again. review complaints of inhuman robotic characters of the film actually reflect concepts of the book, and in the decades since this is easily recognizable as truly the way astronauts talk: clear, unambiguous, eschewing emotional distractions, demonstrating constantly to others a level of deliberate competence, reasoned acceptance of other voices, materially relevant observation, of being efficient as any other part of the ship. the book offers this in interpersonal communication like the film as well as very rare personal reflection. these are not neurotic men, this is scientifically explained. that character of the computer is most apparently neurotic is very ironic, this is scientifically explained. the usual and uneventful aspects of life are there in science-fiction distortion but not discussed so much as shown in film and book, the numbers and technical details of the book and very occasional reflections on meaning of what they do and then why they do it are in service of creating realism of the fantastic, all of these aspects of the writing work to scientifically answer questions the images of the film evoke and so is perhaps the book is best read after viewing. as this is a collaboration of two artists and of author and filmmaker this is reasonable. on reading again, of course i notice many details that are not details and in directly comparing the experiences i am more aware of aspects of the two arts. the way the film tells the story and the book tells the story might seem diametrically opposed, but i question that, believe in fact they are parallel if not ultimately the same. the film is a series of great images that tell events in an entirely visual way that succeeds in some ways if not not others and the book is a philosophical sort of science fiction that packs a lot into just over 50k words. sometimes images are best: portrayal of ancestors lives, image of encounter with monolith, of the monolith in general, education by allusion, the famous transcendental cut that sums up three million years of human evolution, all of this is effective and entrancing rather than exact and maybe didactic as the book. sometimes writing is best: for understanding the scope and ideas, for sense of philosophy and possibilities, for scientific plausibility, for extrapolation, all of this is useful corrective to maybe frustrating opaqueness and allusive qualities of the images. neither book nor film have very compelling narratives. there are some ways by limitation of art forms or by technology or by accident, that change the book, where much need be convincingly explained to seem real, and complement images with ideas but not as much changes as might be expected. personal stylistic dissatisfaction is poetic: what seems like excessive punctuation is no doubt correct, but reminds me of preferring long winding sentences and little punctuation and inevitably recalls my youthful excited dispersion of all forms of punctuation in my own writing. and if anything this work is Not abstract enough. stolid understatement is the mode of prose but perhaps this best serves to foreground ideas and not technique and insists realism of the most fantastic. there are even some logical images that could not be shown, such as evacuation of the atmosphere as creating a storm and vacuum to kill humans, the exact nature and scale of the stargate, the size and awesome beauty of the planets though the film is an admirable try, the rings of Saturn never satisfyingly real enough that forces the film to use Jupiter, these elements are all found in the book. there is much focus on realism at least from the sixties in the film, before we had seen the Earth from orbit, from the Moon, had no idea what the Moon surface looked like, no idea of the extravagant moons orbiting Jupiter, that the Soviets and the Cold War and Pan-American airlines would all disappear. but the book is realism also and in both book and film this realism is used for the most fantastic metaphysical ends, demonstrated by the psychedelic stargate sequence in the film, written in the last 8k words in the book where all this realism leads to emblematic transcendence of one human rather than messy population evolution so difficult to show in any genre of art.. so i love this book and film together. aside from any typical art value this has great ideas and little noticed on first viewing, subtle humor beyond the very long instructions for the zero gravity toilet, also there is dialogue and careful misdirection and irony of computer humans and human computer. then there are chapter titles that mean something different than expected. to be ‘First Man to Saturn’ is not a good thing... this is a much much much later addition: at the moment, February 2015, i am experimenting with my reading. i have always been reading a variety of fiction and nonfiction, a variety of genres, of voices, eras, cultures- now i am trying to read several works at the same time. this is 'comparative lit', in a way, in english... other three: When the Emperor Was Divine The Namesake Joyland science fiction: 2001: a space odyssey i am reading 2001 for the first time in about a thousand fiction, though i probably watched the film again less than a year ago. i have read it now at least four times- first when i was a teen, though i had been a child watching the film, trying to figure it out. next in high school, when i worked at one of those video rental places. once a decade past, trying to read all this list of famous sf works. and now... it is impossible now to read it innocent of the film. possibly the film cannot be seen innocent of the book. it certainly calls up remembrance of this or that scene, of kubrick's mastery of telling the story in images, deliberate, fantastic, mildly satirical in some scenes, and book and film follow closely. the copy read contains an intro by clarke about how it was written, i had read of this before, but the main impact for me was highlighting how very of its time, how very of clarke's typical worldview. there is no single moment such as the evolutionary transcendent cut joining our ancestors and our descendants, no graceful transit of this and that spacecraft, no blue danube... this is not the source of greatest pleasure: it is in the ideas, in the majesty, in the numbers (a lot of immense numbing numbers), and not in the efficient but not poetic prose... and in fact it is the simple, unpoetic, efficient prose, that ends up best communicating (stolid understatement being the mode) the spectacle, the fantastic, in the latter images when clarke leaves our familiar solar system (at least as it was imagined in the 60s), the mechanical details (hardware science fiction), to leap out beyond our given universe and into some sort of indescribable transcendent status for the humans as represented by bowman... having now read nietzsche it is wonderfully appropriate that the film uses 'thus sprache...' as this book is nothing less than a portrayal of man being nothing but a tightrope walker between ape and over-man... this book definitely encourages another glance at the film... but i think i will go read the few other books i am reading: literary lit, stephen king lit, pulitzer prize-winner lit... first review: there is this movie, there is this book… neither is complete without the other. stanley kubrick’s masterpiece and this radical elaboration of one of clarke’s short stories. developed together. written concurrently. if you want to be amazed by understated awe of images- watch the film. if you want to understand what you just saw- read the book. literary lit: When the Emperor Was Divine this is a beautiful, concise, evocative sketch of the life of an american-japanese family broken up and interned during ww2. not much plot, not much vocal moral, not much but understated anguish of how one family is destroyed by forces beyond their influence. characters complex, real. writing sharp, precise. literary lit: The Namesake first review: (and likely last) reading this concurrently with a few other books, Joyland by Stephen King, When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka, 2001 by Arthur C Clarke. this is an ambivalent three. readable, flowing, accessible, this is a pleasant fantasy of immigration from Bengal to East Coast US. there is nothing new, challenging, or unusual with this narrative of young professional from the old world of arranged marriage, of vibrant, busy, parents and relatives from whom the character must suffer dislocation. until, gradually, family and ritual serve their silent purpose against rootless ways of the west... if i look at it some way, perhaps it cuts too close to the bone: there is one long chapter about the father, a tenured prof, on sabbatical deciding to take the family to roots in calcutta for eight months. at this age, my father, a tenured prof, on sabbatical decided to take us to roots in kaua'i. india is much more different than hawai'i, but the sense of being on a long vacation was similar. and the sort of expectations i grew up with were not much less, though how i diverted from the plan is a change, but it is consistent how my brother accomplished some of it by becoming a lawyer. things happen, perhaps less so in this novel than in life, but in this way i think of it as a modern life fantasy... so, the people are nice. what plot there is generally points this out. the writing is writing-class good. i like this more than stephen king, i did read it easily, i do admire technique, but there is no greatness in form, structure, theme, but simply pleasant people to visit for a few hours... stephen king lit:Joyland first review (and last): every time i read stephen king, i am disappointed. by now, i wonder why i think it should ever be different- but then, deciding on this 'comparative lit' project, i found him, knew i would easily read it, maybe come to understand or appreciate his skill. i thought to truly compare. i look at the review i wrote for the last two king i have read. he is nothing if not consistent. what i did not like there i do not like here: characters, plot, motivations, themes, are entirely too consistent. even with the 'reveal', the world makes sense. if our narrator was not so great a guy, we would not like to spend so much time with him, nor the implied writer. but he is a great guy. the world makes sense. the little 'psychic sight' is venerable, correct. the evangelical hypertrophy is familiar. the good are good, the bad only look good, the lame is brave, the heart is healed... but this is a world and worldview (carnival working class) at least as alien to me, in lived experience, as calcutta or new york (rich urban and suburban and india and paris)- but then king carries a friendly, unpretentious, everyman voice, describing and evoking this nostalgic then horrific year spent by our hero at a down-market amusement park. i have read the three books mentioned in quarters each- though when the emperor was divine was only half as long so finished first. i really liked that book, i liked 2001 though it was familiar, i liked the namesake, and this one is okay. why do i rank them so? complexity of character, i suppose. writing, next. worldview, as revealed in both ways...

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sam Quixote

    At the dawn of man, an alien monolith appears amidst the man-apes - and forever changes humanity’s destiny. 3 million years later, as the space age begins for mankind, another monolith is found - this time on the moon! - and appears to be transmitting to Japetus, one of Saturn’s moons. So the crew of the starship Discovery set out on their secret mission to locate the source. Will they discover the mystery of the monoliths, as well as make first contact with their creators, the aliens we might b At the dawn of man, an alien monolith appears amidst the man-apes - and forever changes humanity’s destiny. 3 million years later, as the space age begins for mankind, another monolith is found - this time on the moon! - and appears to be transmitting to Japetus, one of Saturn’s moons. So the crew of the starship Discovery set out on their secret mission to locate the source. Will they discover the mystery of the monoliths, as well as make first contact with their creators, the aliens we might be calling… God? One thing’s for sure: nothing could go wrong with an artificial intelligence like HAL 9000 on board! I’ve been rewatching a lot of Kubrick lately and, before trying 2001: A Space Odyssey again, I thought it’d be interesting to read the Arthur C. Clarke novel first. I remember being mostly baffled after watching the movie the first time so hopefully Clarke would provide some insight and context before I watched it again - and hopefully it would be a decent read too! And it was, and it did. Not that I got all the answers I wanted (that ending is still… weird) but I think I understood more of what Kubrick was shooting for. They’re pretty much the same story too - the only major difference is that in the movie Discovery goes to one of Jupiter’s moons and in the book they go to one of Saturn’s (the reason for the change, Clarke says in his introduction, is that the props department couldn’t build a model of Saturn that Kubrick approved of). Similarly too, the parts of the novel I liked best were the same best parts of the movie. The opening section, Primeval Night, about the man-apes, was really interesting, and the part onboard Discovery when David discovers all is not well with the ship’s computer is riveting. I also enjoyed the approach to Japetus, which felt as menacing and exciting as comparable scenes in later famous sci-fi works, such as Prometheus, when they enter the planet of the Engineers. Speaking of which, this novel/movie contains a helluva lot that’s set the standard and influenced numerous writers/filmmakers/artists who’ve made their own space epics since - you see the blueprints of the Alien films, Arrival, and any number of sci-fi games/shows/books/comics, right here. Other sections though are simply dull without Kubrick’s compelling visuals to enliven them. TMA-1, when they initially discover the monolith on the moon, goes on and on - and all that basically happens is that they discover the monolith! TMA? More like TMI amirite?? Ahh… The initial episode on the Discovery is also quite dreary as Clarke runs us through the crew’s daily routine - snore. Also, the most captivating sequence in the movie - when David goes through the star gate - is really dull to read here. In the movie, the visuals are amazing and trippy - take that away and replace it with Clarke’s flat, overly descriptive and plodding prose, and you’re practically falling asleep during the penultimate scene of the story! I used to think this book was written after the movie, like a novelisation of the film, but I was wrong: the novel was conceived at the same time and written alongside the screenplay, and as the movie was in production, and happened to be published a few months after the movie’s release. And while they tell almost an identical story, they have different strengths and weaknesses. Because movies rely on visuals, in addition to dialogue and text, to tell a story, Kubrick was able to step back, let the visuals play out and be silent at key points of the story, to allow for an impressionistic interpretation - which could be unsatisfying and frustrating for some viewers. Novels don’t have that and so Clarke has to be more explicit, by necessity, which means you get more answers but describing at length, as he does here, is also a poor substitute for a visionary filmmaker and his art team’s skills. Still, parts of the novel are genuinely exciting and the story remains as entertaining and enjoyable in prose as it was on film. Clarke isn’t the most thrilling storyteller, and there were large swathes of the novel which were tedious, but he can step up when the occasion calls for it and I’m glad I finally got around to reading this sci-fi classic.

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