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2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

by Arthur C. Clarke

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,775138345 (3.98)319
  1. 191
    2010: Odyssey Two by Arthur C. Clarke (ksk21, philAbrams)
  2. 90
    Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke (riodecelis, artturnerjr)
  3. 30
    Contact by Carl Sagan (5hrdrive)
    5hrdrive: A better "first contact" story.
  4. 11
    Even Peons are People: Interplanetary Justice by D. Pak (philAbrams)
    philAbrams: Seminal breakthrough works
  5. 00
    The Cassiopeia Affair by Chloe Zerwick (MinaKelly)
  6. 00
    Shield by Poul Anderson (MinaKelly)
  7. 55
    I, Robot by Isaac Asimov (benmartin79)
  8. 00
    The Memory of Whiteness by Kim Stanley Robinson (Valashain)
    Valashain: Robinson's work shows the same kind of optimism in the future that Clarke seems to have. The style and subject of The Memory of Whiteness reminded me of Clarke most but this goes for other works by Robinson as well.
  9. 23
    Titan by Stephen Baxter (jseger9000)
    jseger9000: The stories have many similarities (mainly a manned expedition to Saturn), though Baxter's story is much darker.
  10. 24
    I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream [short story] by Harlan Ellison (artturnerjr)
    artturnerjr: Another 60s SF tale that takes the notion of malevolent AI to nightmarish extremes.

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Showing 1-5 of 130 (next | show all)
A brilliant and ambitious book (at the time) - Moves fast and fluidly in the beginning, but stumbles around after the narrative moves to the future. The ending was kind of weird, and I had to read the wiki to completely understand it, but as far as narratives go, this one was very written. Also, the book is much better than the movie (I fell asleep halfway through the movie! lol). Would definitely recommend it to people who like adventures, mysteries, and sci-fi - whether its your first foray in your genre or you're a seasoned reader, this book has something for everyone (even the biologist in me!).
  meowism | May 17, 2016 |
It is strange to read a book with such a similar story to the famous film, but with subtle differences that arose whilst the film was being made, even though the book came out a couple of months after the film.
This novel does make clear what was only implied in the film, and in some respects it loses something by this certainty, but it also has great passages describing the technical issues of the imagined space flight in fascinating detail.
The ideas in this novel are good, but now appear cliched as they have been used in subsequent films. A good structure focusing on the pivotal points in the story and detailed technical passages made this an enjoyable book, but nothing special.

I read the Folio Society edition, which is beautifully produced with an interesting and amusing foreword from Michael Moorcock (as well as Clarke's 1989 preface), some effective and complementary illustrations, a stunning cover design and an appropriate silver foil slipcase. ( )
  CarltonC | May 3, 2016 |
His most famous book, written at the same time he and Kubrick were writing the screenplay. The movie famously left you with a lot of questions--which the book mostly answered. Followed by three sequels, the second of which was also made into a middling movie, This is a slipcased, Illustrated edition published by The Folio Society, ( )
  unclebob53703 | Apr 5, 2016 |
I read this book as part of my endeavor to read my way through the list of 1001 Books you should read before you die. This book was actually a really fast read. I didn't find it incredibly daunting to read but at the same time I didn't really like it.

There are different sections of the book, each one follows different characters. I think my favorite one was the first one. I found Moon-Watcher more intriguing than the others in the story.

To be perfectly honest I was so confused by what was happening by the end of the story, I'm not 100% percent how it really ends, and I even went back and tried to re-read some sections.

This book just confirmed that Sci-Fi is not my favorite genre of fiction. ( )
  welkeral | Mar 20, 2016 |
In the background to the story in the book, an ancient and unseen alien race uses a mechanism with the appearance of a large metal monolith to investigate worlds all across the galaxy and, if possible, to encourage the development of intelligent life. The book shows one such monolith appearing in ancient Africa, three million years B.C., where it inspires a starving group of the hominid ancestors of human beings to conceive of tools. The ape-men use their tools to kill animals and eat meat, ending their starvation. They then use the tools to kill a leopard that had been preying on them; the next day, the main ape character, Moon-Watcher, uses a club to kill the leader of a rival tribe. Moon-Watcher reflects that though he is now master of the world, he is unsure of what to do next—but he will think of something. The book suggests that the monolith was instrumental in awakening intelligence, and enabling the transition of the ape-men to a higher order, with the ability to fashion crude tools and thereby be able to hunt and forage for food in a much more efficient fashion.

The book then leaps eons to the year 1999, detailing Dr. Heywood Floyd's travel to Clavius Base on the Moon. Upon his arrival, Floyd attends a meeting. A lead scientist explains that they have found a magnetic disturbance in Tycho, one of the Moon's craters, designated Tycho Magnetic Anomaly One, or TMA-1. An excavation of the area has revealed a large black slab; it is precisely fashioned to a ratio of exactly 1:4:9, or 1²:2²:3²—that is to say that the thickness of the slab is exactly 1/4th of its width and 1/9th of its height. Such a construction rules out any naturally-occurring phenomena, and at three million years of age, it was not crafted by human hands. It is the first evidence for the existence of extraterrestrial intelligent life. Floyd and a team of scientists drive across the moon to actually view TMA-1. They arrive just as sunlight hits upon it for the first time in three million years. It then sends a piercing radio transmission to the far reaches of the solar system. The signal is tracked to Iapetus, one of the many moons of Saturn, where an expedition is then planned to investigate.

The book leaps forward 18 months to 2001 to the Discovery One mission to Saturn. Dr. David Bowman and Dr. Francis Poole are the only conscious human beings aboard Discovery One spaceship. Their three other colleagues are in a state of suspended animation, to be awakened when they near Saturn. The HAL 9000, an artificially intelligent computer addressed as "Hal," maintains the ship and is a vital part of life aboard.

While Poole is receiving a birthday message from his family back home, Hal tells him that the AE-35 unit of the ship is going to malfunction. The AE-35 unit is responsible for keeping their communication dish aimed at Earth; without it, receiving support would be impossible. Poole takes one of the extra-vehicular pods and swaps the AE-35 unit. But when Bowman conducts tests on the AE-35 unit that has been replaced, he determines that there was never anything wrong with it. Poole and Bowman become suspicious at Hal's refusal to admit that there could be something wrong with his failure detection sensors. Hal then claims that the replacement AE-35 unit will fail. Poole and Bowman radio back to Earth; they are told that there is most definitely something wrong with Hal, and will possibly need to disconnect him. These instructions are interrupted as the signal is broken. Hal informs them that the AE-35 unit has malfunctioned.

Poole takes a pod outside the ship to bring in the failed AE-35 unit. As he is removing the unit, the pod, which he had left parked close by, on the ship's hull, begins moving toward him. He is powerless to move out of the way in time and is killed when his spacesuit is torn, exposing him to the vacuum of space. Bowman is shocked by Poole's death and is deeply distressed. He is unsure whether Hal, a machine, really could have killed Poole. He decides that he will need to wake up the other three astronauts. He has an argument with Hal, with Hal refusing to obey his orders to switch the hibernation pods to manual operation, insisting that Bowman is incapacitated. Bowman threatens to disconnect him if his orders are not obeyed, and Hal relents, giving him manual control to wake the sleeping scientists.

But as Bowman begins to awaken his colleagues, he hears Hal open both airlock doors into space, venting the ship’s atmosphere. The pressure on board is rapidly dropping as the ship is equalizing with the vacuum of space. Bowman makes his way into a sealed emergency shelter which has an isolated oxygen supply and spare spacesuit. He then puts on the spacesuit and re-enters the ship, knowing Hal to be a murderer. Bowman then laboriously disconnects the computer, puts the ship back in order and manually re-establishes contact with Earth. He then learns that the true purpose of the mission is to explore Japetus,[1] the third-largest moon of Saturn, in the hope of contacting the society that buried the monolith on the Moon.

Bowman learns that Hal had begun to feel guilty and conflicted about keeping the purpose of the mission from him and Poole, which ran contrary to his stated mission of gathering information and reporting it fully. This conflict had started to manifest itself in little errors. Given time, Hal might have been able to resolve this crisis peacefully, but when he was threatened with disconnection, he panicked and defended himself out of a belief that his very existence to be at stake, having no concept of the state of sleep.

Bowman spends months on the ship, alone, slowly approaching Japetus. A return to Earth is now out of the question, as Hal's sudden decompression of Discovery severely damaged the ship's air filtration system, leaving Bowman with far less breathable air than either returning to Earth or waiting for a rescue ship would require, and hibernation is impossible without Hal to monitor it. During his long approach, he gradually notices a small black spot on the surface of Iapetus. When he gets closer, he realizes that this is an immense black monolith, identical in shape to TMA-1, only much larger. The scientists back on Earth name this monolith "TMA-2," which name Bowman points out is a double misnomer because it is not on the moon and gives off no magnetic force whatsoever.

He decides to go out in one of the extra-vehicular pods to make a closer inspection of the monolith. Programmed for just such an occurrence, the monolith reveals its true purpose as a star gate when it opens and pulls in Bowman's pod. Before he vanishes, Mission control hears him proclaim: "The thing's hollow—it goes on forever—and—oh my God—it's full of stars!"

Bowman is transported via the monolith to a star system far outside our galaxy. During this journey, he goes through a large interstellar switching station, and sees other species' spaceships going on other routes; he dubs it the 'Grand Central Station' of the universe. (This is rather different from the film, which portrayed the entire journey as surreal.)

He is brought to what appears to be a nice hotel suite, carefully constructed from monitored television transmissions, and designed to make him feel at ease. Bowman goes to sleep. As he sleeps, his mind and memories are drained from his body, and he is made into a new immortal entity, a Star Child, that can live and travel in space. The Star Child then returns to our Solar System and to Earth. Once there, he destroys the many thermonuclear weapons threatening the very survival of the human species. Like Moon-Watcher three million years before him, the Star Child is now master of the world and uncertain what to do next—but as Moon-Watcher eventually did, the Star Child too will think of something.

  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
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To Stanley
First words
The drought had lasted now for ten million years, and the reign of the terrible lizards had long since ended. Here on the Equator, in the continent which would one day be known as Africa, the battle for existence had reached a new climax of ferocity, and the victor was not yet in sight.
Behind every man now alive stand thirty ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living. (Foreword)
"I'm not going to do that, Dave."
Look Dave, I can see you're really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over.
Now they were lords of the galaxy, and beyond the reach of time. They could rove at will among the stars, and sink like a subtle mist through the very interstices of space. But despite their godlike powers, they had not wholly forgotten their origin, in a worm slime of a vanished sea.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0451457994, Mass Market Paperback)

When an enigmatic monolith is found buried on the moon, scientists are amazed to discover that it's at least 3 million years old. Even more amazing, after it's unearthed the artifact releases a powerful signal aimed at Saturn. What sort of alarm has been triggered? To find out, a manned spacecraft, the Discovery, is sent to investigate. Its crew is highly trained--the best--and they are assisted by a self-aware computer, the ultra-capable HAL 9000. But HAL's programming has been patterned after the human mind a little too well. He is capable of guilt, neurosis, even murder, and he controls every single one of Discovery's components. The crew must overthrow this digital psychotic if they hope to make their rendezvous with the entities that are responsible not just for the monolith, but maybe even for human civilization.

Clarke wrote this novel while Stanley Kubrick created the film, the two collaborating on both projects. The novel is much more detailed and intimate, and definitely easier to comprehend. Even though history has disproved its "predictions," it's still loaded with exciting and awe-inspiring science fiction. --Brooks Peck

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:17 -0400)

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A special new Introduction by the author highlights this reissue of a classic science fiction novel that changed the way people looked at the stars--and themselves. 2001: A Space Odyssey is the classic science fiction novel that changed the way we looked at the stars and ourselves. 2001: A Space Odyssey inspired what is perhaps the greatest science fiction film ever made--brilliantly imagined by the late Stanley Kubrick ... 2001 is finally here.… (more)

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