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2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

by Arthur C. Clarke

Other authors: Stanley Kubrick (Contributor)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Odyssey Sequence (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
10,773168430 (3.99)383
"Allegory about humanity's exploration of the universe, and the universe's reaction to humanity."
  1. 211
    2010: Odyssey Two by Arthur C. Clarke (ksk21, philAbrams)
  2. 90
    Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke (riodecelis, artturnerjr)
  3. 50
    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.
My TBR (17)
1960s (186)

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» See also 383 mentions

English (160)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  French (1)  Slovak (1)  All languages (168)
Showing 1-5 of 160 (next | show all)
This book takes place ( )
  SVault.ELA2 | May 26, 2020 |
the novel, written coinciding the writing of the film of the same name, bears an overall similarity to the film; however, the book differs in the significant moments. the book is most definitely a great science fiction novel, and as a fan of the film, i didn't at all feel like i was treading similar waters. it was refreshing to read a familiar story told from a different perspective. ( )
  lostmonster | May 19, 2020 |
This is still a favorite book but I can no longer accept the space baby. Metaphor or not, it is bad and I hate it.
  lightkensei | May 17, 2020 |
Fifty years ago, I graduated from high school looking forward to technology, including space travel, envisioned in many of the science-fiction stories I read in my youth. The summer before my senior year, I sat with my grandfather in Savannah while we watched Neil Armstrong become the first man to step onto the moon. One year earlier, I attended the premiere of 2001: A Space Odyssey, produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick and based on a screenplay written by both Kubrick and Arthur C. Clark, who simultaneously published a hardcover at the same time.

The movie was and still is a cultural icon, frequently parodied in commercials such as by Apple, Heineken, and Zenith. However, I only remembered sparse recollections from the film—the man-ape tossing the bone into the air which is transformed into a space ship; Hal, the sentient computer, pleading with Frank not to “unplug” him; Frank’s journey through the wormhole-like stargate; and the planetary Star Child at the end of the movie. However, what did these disjointed flashes of memory mean?

I decided to read this science-fiction classic to, hopefully, glean the answer. The novel centers around the discovery of a 1:4:9 smooth ebony monolith known as TMA-1 buried on the moon, which is determined to have been buried by an advanced extraterrestrial race before the appearance of the first intelligent life on Earth. Shortly, after its discovery, TMA-1 is discovered to be communicating with a similar source, known as TMA-2, in orbit around Saturn. A spaceship, Discovery 1, manned by five scientists, two awake while three sleep in suspended animation, are sent to discern the source of the communication. While nearing Saturn, the AI Hal becomes psychotic and must be shut down and unfortunately also shutting down various life-support functions. When Discovery nears TMA-2, orbiting Saturn, Dr. Frank Bowman exits the ship in a pod to explore the object only to discover that it is a portal to another part of the universe “far, far, away.”

After reading the book, the primary theme of this book revolves around the evolution of human consciousness apparently stimulated by the TMA beginning with the man-apes at the beginning of the novel. The penultimate stage is the Star Child, which I believe is hinted by the novel to eventually merge with God, the Creator. “He knew—or believed he knew—that he was watching the operation of some gigantic mind, contemplating the universe of which he was so tiny a part.”

Although I wish that I had read the novel before seeing the movie, I’m not sure I would have appreciated its nuances as an adolescent. Reading this book, now that I have some life experiences, under my belt, aided me in better understanding the meaning of Kubrick and Clarke’s works. This work is science fiction classic, which is still as new today as it was 50 years ago. ( )
  John_Warner | Feb 29, 2020 |

An alternative treatment of the film's plot where more is explained and the Discovery finished up at Saturn instead of Jupiter (more specifically Iapetus) was, as noted above, one of the first books I remember buying for myself.

What I noticed re-reading it this time is that in contrast to the film a) there is in fact a (single) non-white character, but b) its treatment of women is even less impressive than the film's - there are no visible women scientists on the Moon; the Balinese stewardess shows off her dance moves in zero-G; the space pods are "christened with female names, perhaps in recognition of the fact that their personalities were sometimes unpredictable". Note also the first noun in the memorable first sentence of the introduction:

"Behind every man now alive stand thirty ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living. Since the dawn of time, roughly a hundred billion human beings have walked the planet Earth."

It's one of Clarke's most passionately written books, and of course 2001, film and book, made his reputation to the point where he was able to sign science fiction's biggest ever book deal. It does explain a little more of what is going on, in particular the memorable descriptions of Bowman's state of mind:

"He started with the romantic composers, but shed them one by one as their emotional outpourings became too oppressive. Sibelius, Tchaikovsky, Berlioz, lasted a few weeks, Beethoven rather longer. He finally found peace, as so many others had done, in the abstract architecture of Bach, occasionally ornamented with Mozart.

And so Discovery drove on toward Saturn, as often as not pulsating with the cool music of the harpsichord, the frozen thoughts of a brain that had been dust for twice a hundred years."

It's good stuff, but I think Clarke wrote better (Rendezvous with Rama, Imperial Earth, A Fall of Moondust, The Fountains of Paradise, many of the earlier short stories) and although it's by far his most popular book, I wouldn't actually recommend it to someone who did not know much about science fiction.

https://nwhyte.livejournal.com/3331396.html ( )
  nwhyte | Feb 8, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 160 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (37 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Clarke, Arthur C.Authorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kubrick, StanleyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Eis, EgonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hill, DickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mare, J.B. deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moorcock, MichaelIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Velsen, A. vanCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilson, JoeIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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Haiku summary
Is mankind alone?
A black slab says "No, we're here.
We live near Saturn."

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