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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
12,264205432 (4)402
It has been forty years since the publication of this classic science fiction novel that changed the way we look at the stars and ourselves. From the savannas of Africa at the dawn of mankind to the rings of Saturn as man adventures to the outer rim of our solar system, 2001: A Space Odyssey is a journey unlike any other. This allegory about humanity's exploration of the universe, and the universe's reaction to humanity, was the basis for director Stanley Kubrick's immortal film, and lives on as a hallmark achievement in storytelling.… (more)
  1. 211
    2010: Odyssey Two by Arthur C. Clarke (ksk21, philAbrams)
  2. 110
    Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke (riodecelis, artturnerjr)
  3. 50
    Contact by Carl Sagan (5hrdrive)
    5hrdrive: A better "first contact" story.
  4. 10
    Even Peons are People: Interplanetary Justice by D. Pak (philAbrams)
    philAbrams: Seminal breakthrough works
  5. 00
    The Cassiopea 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.
1960s (222)
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» See also 402 mentions

English (189)  Spanish (5)  Dutch (2)  Slovak (1)  French (1)  German (1)  Finnish (1)  Catalan (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Arabic (1)  All languages (203)
Showing 1-5 of 189 (next | show all)
2001 is a really boring film. So quite why I decided to listen to the novel when it popped up for free on Audible I don't really know - except that it seemed like a good insomnia cure and it is a sci-fi "classic". Rather to my surprise I enjoyed the novel a lot more than the film. It's a very short audiobook but it held my attention most of the time. Not sure I'll ever bother with the rest but this was better than I expected. ( )
  infjsarah | Sep 7, 2022 |
Gripping plot, awe-inspiring world, specially from Jupiter onwards. A bit too didactic about space travel. ( )
  WavelessOcean | Sep 6, 2022 |
5/5
Wow. Just wow. ( )
  DaVarPhi | Aug 18, 2022 |
2001: A Space Odyssey is a classic science fiction novel divided into three parts. The first follows the ancestors of humanity as they have a strange encounter that changes the course of human history. The second follows a scientist who journeys to the moon to investigate a top-secret discovery. And the last follows an astronaut on a journey to Saturn, although the real purpose of his mission is not told to him until disaster strikes.

I should mention that I've never seen the movie that was developed at the same time as this novel. I typically prefer books to movies, and therefore I was interested in reading this book but feel no particular compulsion to watch the movie. As such, this review will not contain any comparisons or an answer to the question of which is better. If you haven't seen the movie either and are considering whether to read the book, I hope this will be helpful to you.

I will admit that I was aware of the movie going into this, and I knew one particular plot point from what is the third portion of the book (I think I saw a clip at some point), so I was surprised to find that the opening is not about space travel at all. That being said, once I got into it, I quite enjoyed reading about the man-apes, as Clarke envisioned them. It was fascinating to see what he thought they were like or what he thought they might have been like and to wonder about the mystery that begins unfolding here. The second section was, to my mind, a little slow, while the third started slow, picked way up, then disappointed me. I don't recommend reading this if you're looking for an exciting or action-packed plot.

What did the book have instead? Lots of descriptions of space, space travel, and the technology that humans use to live in and travel through space. I'm no expert on the science shown here, but it read to me as being quite believable, and there were many times when I did believe the author was presenting details as they truly are. If you haven't read or watched much science fiction, perhaps many of the ideas would surprise you and catch your interest as well. I suspect that at the time it was written this was a large part of the appeal, as of course no one had created anything inspired by it yet.

I couldn't help but notice that it is very much a product of its time, both in terms of the level of advancement of the scientific ideas and the portrayal of female characters. The latter wasn't at the level where it was upsetting, but it was certainly noticeable to this reader. One line that gives a good idea of what I'm talking about is this: "[Space pods] were usually christened with feminine names, perhaps in recognition of the fact that their personalities were sometimes slightly unpredictable." Coming from the omniscient narrator, that certainly helps explain in my mind why this depiction of "the future" focuses so heavily on men and seems to put them in every single position of power or influence in society. Some readers, I'm sure, will not mind this in the slightest. Others like myself will likely find it interesting, a view into the mindsets of the past as well as the futuristic speculations of the past. In the year 2022, I personally find it interesting to consider how the real 2001 turned out so differently than what Clarke predicted.

In the end, I found this book enjoyable enough. I'm glad I read it in order to understand the cultural relevance and the impact it's had on what has come since. I also enjoyed seeing the writing techniques used and was intrigued to find that the book is so beloved in spite of what I wouldn't have expected to be widely considered a compelling plot structure. If you like space and space travel or if you're a science fiction buff, a lover of classic literature, or an aspiring science fiction writer, I would recommend giving this one a read. If you're looking for good representation, action, or new ideas, I'd go with a modern science fiction book instead. ( )
  dste | Aug 6, 2022 |
Finally got around to read this during a short vacation. The movie adaptation is rather close to the book though the book is still better than the excellent movie.
Considering that this was written between 1964 and 1968 (so well before the first moon landing, leave alone any explorations to Mars and Jupiter), it is remarkable how many of the authors descriptions have turned out to be correct.
Having read this made me read the remaining books of the 'Space Odyssey' series (and of course I will watch the move again, too). ( )
  sdkasper | Jul 15, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 189 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (37 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Clarke, Arthur C.primary 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)
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"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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Wikipedia in English (4)

It has been forty years since the publication of this classic science fiction novel that changed the way we look at the stars and ourselves. From the savannas of Africa at the dawn of mankind to the rings of Saturn as man adventures to the outer rim of our solar system, 2001: A Space Odyssey is a journey unlike any other. This allegory about humanity's exploration of the universe, and the universe's reaction to humanity, was the basis for director Stanley Kubrick's immortal film, and lives on as a hallmark achievement in storytelling.

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Book description
Три мільйони років тому людство, яке ще й не було людством, стало об’єктом експериментів невідомої могутньої цивілізації. Австралопітека на ім’я Задивлений на Місяць обрав загадковий прибулець – прозора прямокутна плита, що спалахнула вночі яскравими символами і навчила майбутніх людей першим думкам… 2001 року на Місяці земляни відкопали з глибини чорну брилу, моноліт неймовірних розмірів та ідеальної форми. Під променями Сонця він ожив уперше за мільйони років – спрацювала сигналізація, яка повідомила невідомим володарям Галактики: люди зробили перший крок. Та куди він приведе, нікому не відомо…
Haiku summary
Is mankind alone?
A black slab says "No, we're here.
We live near Saturn."
(benscripps)

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