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2001 A Space Odyssey Paperback – Jan 1 2001

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Orbit (Jan. 1 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857236645
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857236644
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 1.9 x 17.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 141 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (217 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,086,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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First Sentence
The drought had lasted now for ten million years, and the reign of the terrible lizards had long since ended. Read the first page
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
2001: A Space Odyssey was written essentially alongside the script for the film of the same name. Arthur C Clarke and Stanley Kubrick worked very closely together on the two projects, and Clarke considered Kubrick as a co-author of the novel in everything but name.

The major plot points are nearly identical between the film and the novel: monoliths from some mysterious extraterrestrial civilization seem to be influencing human evolution at key points in its development. The film and the novel differ on small details such as the destination of the manned space mission to investigate the obelisks (Jupiter and Saturn, respectively.)

That said, the novel often reveals far more detail than the film; this was especially appreciated for the famous, trippy, kaleidoscope of colours scene. As a result the film seems to make a bit more sense now, especially given that the novel provides some insight into the nature of the monoliths and their makers.

Standing on its own, the novel contains an interesting story that manages to stay coherent across millions of years and millions of lightyears. The tension Clarke creates in the scenes with HAL approaches that in the film, although seems a bit too short. The ending, of course, is still a bit weird, but does its job in tying together the whole novel. I probably won't read any of the sequels, but 2001 gets four stars.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This easy-to-read book (first published in 1968, a year before the first Moon landing) by Sir Arthur C. Clarke is the first installment of his "Odyssey" series of science fiction novels. It is divided into six parts: (1) Primeval Night: six chapters (2) TMA-1: eight chapters (3) Between Planets: six chapters (4) Abyss: ten chapters (5) The Moons of Saturn: ten chapters (6) Through the Star Gate: seven chapters.
This novel is classified as science fiction but is so much more. It also has other elements such as the evolution of man, science, astronomy, computer science, extraterrestrial (ET) intelligence, and suspense.
Evolution of man is the subject matter of part one of the novel. Here you'll be introduced to ape-men and how they adapt to their environment. Two major ape-men introduced are "Moon-Watcher" and "One-Ear."
Science is presented throughout the novel. For example, "A man who weighed one hundred eighty pounds on Earth might be delighted to discover that he weighed only thirty pounds on the Moon. As long as he moved in a straight line at a uniform speed, he felt a wonderful sense of buoyancy."
Astronomy is introduced throughout parts two to six. Overall, Clarke gives good descriptions of our solar system, the asteroid belt, Jupiter, and Saturn. All these are presented with a sense of wonder.
Computer science is represented by the supercomputer HAL (which stands for Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer). HAL was "the nervous system" of the Earth-built spacecraft 'Discovery' (which was piloted by astronauts Dave Bowman and Frank Poole). "Without [HAL's] supervision, 'Discovery' would be a mechanical corpse.
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Format: Paperback
For most sci-fi fans, it is impossible to read Clarke's novelization of "2001" without calling up scenes from Kubrick's movie. Unlike nearly all books inspired by movies, however, many readers will find that Clarke's fiction enriches, rather than retreads, familiar ground. In particular, the novel more fully explains the purpose of the monoliths and the movie's ambiguous--and to many, bizarre--ending.
Those who complain about the book's datedness win the argument on purely literal grounds. The year 2001 has come and gone, and many of the "advances" in the book (and the movie) seem quaint, while humanity's adventures in space have, for the most part, stalled.
Nevertheless, what is remarkable about Clarke's book is not the technology, which was doomed to obsolescence within a decade, but rather the science. Reading "2001" reminds us that, while our industrial innovations may have departed from the expectations of the late 1960s, the principles on which our technology is based and the astrophysics that informs our worldview have altered relatively little. Indeed, the novel in many spots reads like a science book, and this impression is underscored by Clarke's journalese, which ranges from informative to didactic. ("It was true that the Special Theory of Relativity had proved to be remarkably durable." "That pinpoint of incandescence must be a White Dwarf--one of those strange, fierce little stars, no larger than the Earth, yet containing millions of times its mass.")
Even the attempts at characterization are reportorial: "Like all his colleagues, Bowman was unmarried; it was not fair to send family men on a mission of such duration." Heywood Floyd, David Bowman, and even Hal (the mutinous computer) are inarguably one-dimensional.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
There is not much that can be said about 2001 that hasn't been said already. It is, of course, a classic among classics, a story that begins three million years in the past and ends in what was, at the time Clarke and Kubrick developed the story, the near future. The background is well known: Stanley Kubrick wanted to make the proverbial "good science fiction movie," and to achieve this goal, he and Clarke collaborated to develop a screenplay based partly on some of Clarke's earlier short stories (The Sentinel, among others). Clarke then wrote the novel from the screenplay.
I must admit that I've never really liked 2001 all that much, to be honest. The "problem" with the movie is that you cannot today avoid knowing that you're watching something that was made in the 1960s. Most of the movie is set in the future, but it feels like the past. In the book, the annoying thing is that Clarke's style of writing (which usually works so well) is too brief and abrupt, and the ending doesn't satisfy. On the other hand, I do like the beginning, with Moon-Watcher and the early hominids struggling for survival, and I also like the idea of mankind being essentially the creation of an unknown alien intelligence. But I can't escape the feeling that the story should have been more "fleshed out." And, like I said, the ending, when Bowman is transformed into Star-Child, is not satisfying and even a bit disturbing, even if the story in this way does come full-circle at the very end. Don't get me wrong, it's an amazing idea, but somehow it just doesn't "feel" right. As an explanation to why there doesn't seem to be any intelligent life on other worlds in the universe (why have we not been visited?), it's certainly a breath-taking concept.
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