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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 (215 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #657,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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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By Bart Leahy on March 13 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Stanley Kubrick got together with Arthur C. Clarke to make "the proverbial good science fiction movie," and then proceeded to sift through Clarke's works for an idea. They settled on "The Sentinel" and a few bits from "Encounter at Dawn." Kubrick could have made Childhood's End into a film, used the same special effects budget, and made a much better movie. As it is, Clarke and Kubrick have created a massive albatross, a "classic," a visual masterpiece on the screen, and one of the most boring books you're likely to read. Clarke is partially to blame, of course, since he is known for writing about big concepts and remarkable speculative technologies, not characters.
2001 is such a part of the culture now, I don't think I'll be blowing any secrets here by revealing plot points. But just in case you haven't seen or read 2001, you have been warned. The book (and the movie--from here on, I'll talk about the book) starts at "the dawn of man," three million years ago, on the African plains. We confront our ancestors, Australopethicus, or whatever they're called. They're starving, vulnerable, and afraid. Then a strange object appears, probes them, and begins to give them ideas. The hominids begin using animal bones as weapons. The object, a black, featureless monolith, disappears, and leaves the hominids to their destiny. The book fast-forwards to our age. The movie does this really well, by using a sight-match between a bone thrown up in the air and then a space station orbiting the planet. The point being, the use of tools became the basis of human evolution.
We come to the present, 2001.
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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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