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2061: Odyssey Three by Arthur C. Clarke

2061: Odyssey Three (1988)

by Arthur C. Clarke

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Odyssey Sequence (3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,106341,719 (3.19)36
  1. 40
    Heart of the Comet by Gregory Benford (jseger9000)
    jseger9000: The stories of both books are quite different, however both explore landing on Halley's Comet
  2. 62
    2010: Odyssey Two by Arthur C. Clarke (craiglucas)
  3. 62
    2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke (craiglucas)
    craiglucas: Part of the same series
  4. 30
    3001: The Final Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke (craiglucas)

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I was hesitant about this novel when I started reading it. It begins with the slightly contrived circumstance allowing Dr. Heywood Floyd to still be an active participant at the age of 103. But that's a small pill to swallow to get to the rest of the book.

As in [book: 2010], there are no ordinary people, so the characters are all engaging, believable, and fascinating.

The over-arching plot is a bit contrived, which I can entirely forgive, especially since it's not very noticeable while read it. The storyline exists to tie together some great action, some outstanding character development, and some beautiful depictions of outer space, which is fine by me. I was entranced :)

I have two complaints: First, the story doesn't so much end, as fray away, with one thread that seems to scream "I'll grow up to be a sequel!" That's a let down after an otherwise engaging read. The second, and it seems to be a trend, is liberal self-plagarization. Yes, it was a lovely description in 2001, but you didn't have to lift it, whole-cloth, for this novel.

That being said, this novel is well worth reading. Partly to get more of his descriptions of space, and partly out of curiosity, I'll almost certainly read [book: 3001: The Final Odyssey] soon. ( )
  hopeevey | May 19, 2018 |
Arthur C. Clarke

2061: Odyssey Three

Grafton, Paperback [1989].

12mo. 302 pp. Author’s Note, April 1987 [11-12]. Acknowledgments, 25 April 1987 [301-302]; a footnote signed “Arthur C. Clarke, 30 September 1987” [302].

First published by Del Rey/Ballantine, January 1988.
Published in paperback by Grafton Books, 1989.
6th printing per number line, n.d.


Author’s Note

I. The Magic Mountain
1. The Frozen Years
2. First Sight
3. Re-entry
4. Tycoon
5. Out of the Ice
6. The Greening of Ganymede
7. Transit
8. Starfleet
9. Mount Zeus
10. Ship of Fools
11. The Lie
12. Oom Paul
13. “No-one told us to bring swimsuits...”
14. Search
II. The Valley of Black Snow
15. Rendezvous
16. Touchdown
17. The Valley of Black Snow
18. ‘Old Faithful’
19. At the End of the Tunnel
20. Recall
III. Europan Roulette
21. The Politics of Exile
22. Hazardous Cargo
23. Inferno
24. Shaka the Great
25. The Shrouded World
26. Night Watch
27. Rosie
28. Dialog
29. Descent
30. Galaxy Down
31. The Sea of Galilee
IV. At the Water Hole
32. Diversion
33. Pit Stop
34. Car Wash
35. Adrift
36. The Alien Shore
V. Through the Asteroids
37. Star
38. Icebergs of Space
39. The Captain’s Table
40. Monsters from Earth
41. Memoirs of a Centenarian
42. Minilith
VI. Haven
43. Salvage
44. Endurance
45. Mission
46. Shuttle
47. Shards
48. Lucy
VII. The Great Wall
49. Shrine
50. Open City
51. Phantom
52. On the Couch
53. Pressure Cooker
54. Reunion
55. Magma
56. Perturbation Theory
57. Interlude on Ganymede
VIII. The Kingdom of Sulphur
58. Fire and Ice
59. Trinity
IX. 3001
60. Midnight in the Plaza



This Third Odyssey has all grievous faults which in 2010 were still in the future but in 3001 will be aggravated. Let’s see exactly what they are and what they amount to.

Inconsistencies. As Arthur gamely states in his “Author’s Note”, the books are not direct sequels to one another and must be regarded “as variations on the same theme, involving many of the same characters and situations, but not necessarily happening in the same universe.” He was being too meticulous with the background based on the historical exploration of the Solar System in the 1970s and 1980s. He is certainly right that the constant new information about the outer planets, more specifically about the complex system of Jovian satellites, makes total consistency impossible. In any case, the inconsistencies between 2061 and 2010 are very minor and not worth bothering about.

Repetitions. Again, the author freely admits that three chapters of this novel (5, 58, 59) make abundant use of the previous one. “If an author cannot plagiarize himself, who can he plagiarize?” Quite so. The idea was to make the book as self-sufficient as possible. If you are among the initiates familiar with 2010, I’m afraid there aren’t many inside jokes to enjoy.

Fantasy. There is not a shred of scientific evidence that deep hibernation, if safely possible with humans at all, may lead to rejuvenation. This, as the resurrection of Frank Poole in 3001, is pure fantasy. It is terrible that a writer of “hard science fiction” (whatever that means) should stoop to fantasy, but it’s important to note that he didn’t go too far with it. Our old friend Heywood Floyd is now indeed 103 years old, not because his hibernation record, but rather because he has been living in weightless conditions for the last half a century. Now, decelerated aging under zero gravity (inaccurate term, but never mind) is science fiction, not fantasy. The border between them is neither sharp nor worth making much of. It does shift with time. Flying to the Moon was fantasy in Jules Verne’s time, but science fiction a few generations later. Today, it’s history.

Diffuse plotlessness. Yes, Part II is not strictly necessary. Arthur enjoyed Halley’s Comet in 1986 with his own telescope, and he was eager that his characters should enjoy it from a rather closer range in 2061. So he makes them land there and explore valleys of black snow, mysterious caves, mighty geysers and other commonplace wonders like these. But Arthur Clarke, though he wrote an astronomical amount of non-fiction, was first and foremost a writer of fiction. I should think 21 novels and well over 100 short stories prove this point beyond reasonable doubt. So the Halley episode is well-integrated into a well-constructed and well-paced plot, not quite as dramatic as the one of 2010, but still quite sturdy enough to bear the weight of the novel. There is plenty of “interplanetary intrigue” going on, I assure you.

Flat characterisation. It must be conceded that 2061 is a step backwards compared to the range and depth of the characters in 2010. But let’s not exaggerate this step, shall we? Heywood Floyd is the same old “Woody”, a bit more restless, perhaps a bit crankier, but he does feel like coming home. He is surrounded by a bunch of charming VIPs, brilliant artists, mad scientists, celebrated journalists, mighty tycoons and even movie stars. There is one composer constantly composing in his “far from soundproof cabin”, one multi-billionaire who has recently bought Hong Kong if not half the Solar System, one Flying Dutchman trying to tame Ganymede, one best-selling author of naughty pop-science and, of course, the definitive Scarlett O’Hara of the 21st century. Colourful company!

Naivety. It’s often said that Arthur is great on science and technology but naive, not to use stronger words, on their personal and social impact. I don’t see it that way. Scientific and technological achievements mean nothing without their human dimensions. Arthur has never neglected them in his works, and I have always found his reflections stimulating – even when I disagree with them, perhaps especially then. It is certainly naive to find that in 2061 the USA is joined by such unlikely entities like the USSR and the USSA (United States of South Africa), but the last of these is essential to the plot and, when you come to think of it, not much more improbable than the Soviet Union. What’s more, Arthur’s notorious optimism in the fate of our species is not without its dark undercurrents. He could always surprise with a keen insight into the inscrutable ways of history and human nature:

‘I’m quite surprised the World Council gave you permission.’

Dr Anderson was also a little surprised, though he might not have been had he known that the project was the last item on a long agenda of a Science Sub Committee late on a Friday afternoon. Of such trifles history is made.

In conclusion, 2061: Odyssey Three is a jolly nice romp through the Solar System, less philosophical but more exciting than its predecessors, mixing a potent cocktail of comet sightseeing, space hijacking, salvage operations and a good deal of fascinating past and future history. It is much more a separate story than a sequel to 2010. There is very little about Dave Bowman and the Monolith. However, there is a twist in the tail, as fantastic as it is natural, that brings them sharply back into focus. No more spoilers. ( )
2 vote Waldstein | Aug 22, 2017 |
As with similar Clarke books of this period, the science of the fiction is great while the social fiction not so great. Even though I'd read it before, I didn't remember much so it was nearly new and entertaining the second time around. ( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
this is either blase hard scifi or just boring scifi. Ship crashes on Europa, gets rescued even with the interdiction. Haywood is uploaded" to the non-physical plane, but is also left in his body. So there are 2 of him, I think. Boring and weird." ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
Second sequel to 2001, still somewhat rooted in the near future, unlike 3001, which is way out there. ( )
  unclebob53703 | Feb 17, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Arthur C. Clarkeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Holicki, IreneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johnson, HollyDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whelan, MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345358791, Mass Market Paperback)

Arthur C. Clark, creator of one of the world's best-loved science fiction tales, revisits the most famous future ever imagined in this NEW YORK TIMES bestseller, as two expeditions into space become inextricably tangled. Heywood Floyd, survivor of two previous encounters with the mysterious monloiths, must again confront Dave Bowman, HAL, and an alien race that has decided that Mankind is to play a part in the evolution of the galaxy whether it wishes to or not.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:36 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Heywood Floyd, survivor of two previous encounters with the mysterious monoliths, must once again confront Dave Bowman, a newly independent HAL, and the power of an alien race.

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