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Space Odyssey #1

2001: A Space Odyssey

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On the Moon, an enigma is uncovered.

So great are the implications of this discovery that for the first time men are sent out deep into our solar system.

But long before their destination is reached, things begin to go horribly, inexplicably wrong...

One of the greatest-selling science fiction novels of our time, this classic book will grip you to the very end.

297 pages, Paperback

First published April 28, 1968

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About the author

Arthur C. Clarke

1,062 books9,802 followers
Sir Arthur Charles Clarke was one of the most important and influential figures in 20th century science fiction. He spent the first half of his life in England, where he served in World War Two as a radar operator, before emigrating to Ceylon in 1956. He is best known for the novel and movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, which he co-created with the assistance of Stanley Kubrick.

Clarke was a graduate of King's College, London where he obtained First Class Honours in Physics and Mathematics. He is past Chairman of the British Interplanetary Society, a member of the Academy of Astronautics, the Royal Astronomical Society, and many other scientific organizations.

Author of over fifty books, his numerous awards include the 1961 Kalinga Prize, the AAAS-Westinghouse science writing prize, the Bradford Washburn Award, and the John W. Campbell Award for his novel Rendezvous With Rama. Clarke also won the Nebula Award of the Science Fiction Writers of America in 1972, 1974 and 1979, the Hugo Award of the World Science Fiction Convention in 1974 and 1980, and in 1986 became Grand Master of the Science Fiction Writers of America. He was awarded the CBE in 1989.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 7,713 reviews
Profile Image for Jack Beltane.
Author 14 books29 followers
March 23, 2008
The book is always better than the film, but I'd never read 2001 before. What I didn't know, until reading the foreword, is that this novel was literally written in tandem with the film, with Clarke and Kubrick feeding each other ideas. At some points, however, filming overtook writing, or vice versa, and the two stories, though similar, split along two different paths.

After reading the book, the film becomes little more than a very well crafted container: It's pretty and neat to look at it, but open it up, and it's empty. There is none of Clarke's vision of how a being we'd call God would communicate with us across unfathomable time spans, or teach us, or lead us into higher consciousness. Stripped away by Kubrick is the sense that this being truly wants us to be in its image, and that the whole breadcrumb trail of monoliths was designed to do just that. And completely erased is the notion that David Bowman, as Star Child, is now one with the Universe, in some Zen-like way, and also much more like something we'd called a god.

Don't get me wrong, 2001 is still one of my favorite films, but to get the full meaning and understand the full weight of why 2001 has been called "the perfect science fiction story," you must read the book. Clarke marries science, mysticism, theory, and fantasy in ways like no other. Unfortunately, Kubrick stripped away the mysticism and theory and left us what is, in comparison to the book, only a glimmer at something bigger.

Kubrick touched the monolith, but Clarke went inside.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,851 reviews16.4k followers
June 6, 2019

I read 2001: A Space Odyssey when I was a teenager and knew it was a very influential work of fiction because of the film and all the attention it had received. Still, though I found it very entertaining, I did not really get it.

Thirty years later, I have read it again, and though I may not completely get it the second time around, the more mature reader can better grasp the vision and message of the genius author. I especially enjoyed the many allusions to other works and found the reference to Melville's Ahab particularly engrossing.

Clarke’s prose is clear and descriptive and his story line linear and thought provoking. Not just an excellent science fiction novel, this is a work of literature, brilliant.

Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56k followers
October 11, 2021
(Book 389 from 1001 books) - 2001: A Space Odyssey (Space Odyssey #1), Arthur C. Clarke

2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 science fiction novel by British writer Arthur C. Clarke.

It was developed concurrently with Stanley Kubrick's film version and published after the release of the film.

Clarke and Kubrick worked on the book together, but eventually only Clarke ended up as the official author.

The story is based in part on various short stories by Clarke, including The Sentinel (written in 1948 for a BBC competition, but first published in 1951 under the title "Sentinel of Eternity").

By 1992, the novel had sold three million copies worldwide.

An elaboration of Clarke and Kubrick's collaborative work on this project was made in The Lost Worlds of 2001.

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: راز کیهان؛ 2001؛ یک ادیسه فضایی؛ نویسنده: آرتور سی کلارک؛ مترجمها: پرویز دوائی؛ هوشنگ غیاثی نژاد؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش ماه آگوست سال 2008میلادی

عنوان: راز کیهان؛ نوشته: آرتور سی. کلارک؛ مترجم: پرویز دوائی؛ تهران، امیرکبیر - فرانکلین، 1348؛ خورشیدی؛ در 288ص؛ چاپ دوم 1354؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده 20م

عنوان: راز کیهان؛ نوشته: آرتور سی. کلارک؛ مترجم: هوشنگ غیاثی نژاد؛ تهران، پاسارگاد، چاپ دوم 1374؛ در دو جلد؛

دوهزار و یک: ادیسه ی فضایی، عنوان رمانی در گونه ی علمی- تخیلی است که در سال 1968میلادی، به قلم «آرتور سی کلارک» و با همکاری «استنلی کوبریک» نگاشته شده است؛ ایده ی نخست این رمان، برگرفته از داستان کوتاه «آرتور سی کلارک»، با عنوان «نگهبان» است؛ سری چهارگانه ی «ادیسه»، پس از این کتاب نخستین آنهاست؛ کتابهای: (2010: ادیسه دو)؛ (2061: ادیسه سه)؛ و (3001: ادیسه نهایی) هستند

این داستان قالبی سنتی، و قراردادی دارد، و شخصیتهایش، همگی آدمهایی معمولی‌ هستند، که به یک مأموریت اکتشافی، به کره ی ماه می‌روند، و در آنجا با پدیده‌های شگفت‌ انگیز، روبرو می‌شوند؛ داستان هرچند، بیانی سر راست، و طبیعی دارد، اما توانایی خیال را بسیار برمی‌انگیزد و خوانشگر را، به اندیشیدن وامی‌دارد؛ «استانلی کوبریک»، کارگردان بزرگوار «آمریکایی»، در سال 1968میلادی، براساس این داستان کوتاه، فیلم نام آشنا و مجلل «نگهبان یا اودیسهٔ فضایی 2001» را ساختند، که گروهی از منتقدان، آن را به عنوان مهم‌ترین، و برجسته‌ ترین فیلم علمی-تخیلی تاریخ سینما، برشمرده‌ اند؛ فیلم، درباره ی، دخالت انسان در کیهان، و کهکشانهاست؛ «استانلی کوبریک» نیز، البته در داستان تغییراتی داده، و از جمله شخصیتهای انسانی آن را، در پایان به صورت آدمهای ماشینی تکامل یافته‌، درآورده بود

در سالهایی این فیلم به ایران آمد، خانه ام در میرداماد بود و مستاجر بودم، ساختمان از آن برادر دوستم مهرداد بود، روز جمعه به دوستم گفتم بیا با هم به دیدن «ادیسه ی فضایی» برویم، پیشنهاد کرد مادرشان هم با ما بیاید، به مادرشان که زن نازنینی بودند، پیشنهاد کردم، ایشان بلافاصله از این فراموشکار پرسید: آیا در پایان داستان دختر به دلدار خویش میرسد؛ اگر نمیرسد من نمیآیم؛ و نیامدند؛ مادران سروهایی هستند که هنوز هم ناسروده مانده اند

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 25/09/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 18/07/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Sr3yas.
223 reviews995 followers
September 14, 2017
I remember watching 2001: A space Odyssey about seven years back and almost losing my mind during the overlong Stargate sequence and what followed after that acid trip.

*The I might puke face*

Fast forward to 2017, one of my buddies called me up and said, 'Sreyas, 2001: Space Odyssey is a fricking classic. You should read the book before watching the movie'. Fortunately, I had a copy of the novel with me and I jumped right in!

❝ If he was indeed mad, his delusions were beautifully organized.❞

The story starts in a time before the dawn of human kind, when benevolent and rather mindless man-apes were dying one after another due to overlong drought and natural predators. In short, The tribal group was going down and they were facing Extinction with a big E.

Enter our savior, the big black slab which manipulated with the minds of man-apes and turned them into ambitious, innovative and uh... violent hooligans? But hey, they needed to be all this to survive such a primitive world. The only problem was that the once benevolent man-apes passed these newly found qualities like innovation, imagination and unfortunately, violence to future generations that followed them.

That's a topic for another time. Because right now, it's all about science and the mysterious black monolith which engineered the dawn of humankind. We jump from prehistory to the year 2001 in a blink of an eye, and the true odyssey begins.

One of the best things about the story for me was the unceasing excitement the tale inspires, in spite of being rather slow at times. The story focuses on the ideas and the science rather than its characters, creating a story propelled solely by the sheer power of the journey to find answers. Another exciting aspect of the story was how easy it is to associate the elements of the novel with our own technological advancement. Even though we haven't achieved the level of sophisticated advancement in terms of space travel as mentioned in the novel, we have come a long way. I couldn't help but notice a scene where one of the characters lands an instumentless probe on an asteroid, and Ta-da, we have done better with Rosetta probe!

*You go, Rosetta*

Without question, the best part about the book was HAL 9000


I actually took some time to make myself mentally ready to read the last part. After seven years, I was just moments away from finally understanding the end of 2001 A space Odyssey.

*I understand...... everything*

Or so I expected. But I ended up being...

Don't get me wrong, I did understand what happened. But it was definitely NOT what I expected. The awesome Star baby confused the hell out of me!

Nevertheless, 2001: A Space Odyssey is classic science fiction at its best.
Profile Image for Leonard Gaya.
Author 1 book834 followers
August 4, 2020
This novel and the film stem from the same original project. Initially, Kubrick and Clarke had been working together on the same story. While Stanley Kubrick went on to make what is now his masterpiece (and one of the most amazing films in the history of cinema), Arthur C. Clarke wrote his most famous novels, alongside Childhood's End. The narratives in book and movie run parallel and so close to one another, that, while re-reading the novel, I have found it almost impossible to dismiss the images from Kubrick’s movie, except when Clarke throws in some rare scene of his own: the ship approaching the rings of Saturn and the satellite Japetus, for instance. So much so that Clarke’s book feels like a novelisation or literary by-product of Kubrick’s film.

The scope and pace of the story are far-reaching in both cases, especially the section involving the astronauts, the mad computer and the foolish "Mission Control". However, here is probably where the shortcomings of this book reside: compared to the film, Clarke doesn’t find much to expand on, except for technical or scientific trivia (how to restore gravity in space, how many miles are there between Jupiter and Saturn, so forth), which result in rather dull pieces of prose and don’t add much to the pleasure that this narrative may inspire. This is particularly apparent towards the end of the novel, where the trippy and gripping imagery of Kubrick’s film translates into a few chapters of pseudo-explanatory gibberish. Some piece of poetry might have been more fitting.
Profile Image for Henry Avila.
451 reviews3,230 followers
January 11, 2023
The opening scene of a tribe of ape- men in Africa finding a strange gyrating monolith, another rock to these few primitives at first. However after the light show the tribe is fascinated, teaches them how to make and use tools, kill animals and prevent their own extinction. With an unlimited supply of food and not be dependent on plants and fruit for survival , very rare during the long ponderous drought conditions (millions of years ). The human race might reach their destiny , for better or worse after all. At around the beginning of the 21st century another monolith is discovered or is it the same one found earlier ? Buried in the dark side (back side) of the moon a bizarre place for any object to be. The bright Dr. Heywood Floyd is called in to investigate and keeps a silent tongue, why he's there on the lunar surface. He sees that the jet black slab is ten foot tall and three million years old unbelievably and immediately sends a ominous signal somewhere in the vast Solar System , obviously extraterrestrial in origin... The spaceship the magnificent, expensive Discovery is built and sent to Saturn's moon Lapetus where the dark structure indicates to go, they had little choice and must obey. Hal the now legendary computer on board the Discovery does the work and Captain David Bowman and Frank Poole don't have much to do, yes a boring voyage for the spacemen... the other crewmen are in hibernation. And will be revived when they hopefully arrive at their distant destination an average of 746 million miles away from Earth. Did I say a very monotonous rather endless adventure into the unknown, this will change soon since Hal never makes a mistake, but will. Still the view of giant Jupiter's turbulent gases, constantly changing makes a colorful atmosphere which shouldn't be avoided, the planet's numerous enticing satellites that astronomers keep on finding new ones to their great delight and joy , 79 at last count, second most in our system, since Saturn has a few more, 82, good show... are...
not to be missed either. Neither is Saturn's Rings and their ice and rocks as they float around the heavens in perpetual orbit of the exotic sphere. This novel with a strange and vague ending what does it mean... Maybe the story about Jesus Christ being resurrected to save the world? Or just aliens manipulating the Earth or another idea, humans trying to find God, you decide ...I did.This like the wonderful classic film is a little cold in unfolding, nevertheless a glorious story of our future.
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,738 followers
April 8, 2021
4 stars first time I read
5 stars on the re-read

And, speaking of stars . . . an applicable quote:

"Oh my God, it's full of stars!"

2001: A Space Odyssey is a classic. It could easily be argued that it is one of the top 5 sci-fi books of all time based on its impact since the time it was released. Also, interesting to note as discussed in the intro to the book, the movie is not based on the book and the book is not based on the movie; Clarke and Kubrick collaborated on both and, in fact, the movie was released before the book. And, while I didn't care that much for the movie (I am not a Kubrick fan), it is also a classic in the sci-fi genre.

My favorite thing about this book is that it is speculative science fiction at its finest. I have really enjoyed recent speculative sci-fi titles and this is the Granddaddy of them all. How would long distance space travel work? What would Artificial Intelligence and machine learning look like? What might be out there in the Cosmos? A lot of sci-fi is about galaxies far far away and not all that based on scientific reality, but this puts everything in the realm of our Solar System with real science and only speculation about what else is beyond the limits of what is reasonably reachable. Fascinating to think about!

Do you like sci-fi? Are you looking to up your classic novel repitoire? Be sure to add 2001. It is a quick and interesting read that will give you a lot to think about.

And, I suppose I should try the movie again . . .
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
659 reviews839 followers
December 15, 2021
"He was moving through a new order of creation, of which few men had ever dreamed...which he alone had been privileged to glimpse. It was too much to expect that he would also understand."

There Is an Alien Power Driving the Frenzy Over the Utah Monolith. It's Just Not From Outer Space | artnet News

Second read: With the increasing sophistication of AI, it's interesting to read how early scifi writers (like Asimov and Heinlein) envisioned their role. While today's AI might not be self-aware, it/they seem(s) less cold technology and more human. 2001 is not about the technology, but the journey. There are still lots of unanswered questions as we think about this future we travel toward. No better time to think about it than while reading some classic science fiction!

Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey has become part of common culture. An alien artifact triggers evolution and leads mankind to the stars. The artifact pictured above (recently 'discovered' in Utah) renewed discussion of Clarke's seminal work. Besides the iconic monolith, though, there's also the equally iconic and creepy AI, HAL. The writing is sometimes clunky and occasionally really good in 2001. It's the ideas that Clarke presents and the journey he shows mankind on that continues to make this an interesting read. 3.5 stars
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,895 reviews10.6k followers
August 17, 2015
An alien artifact teaches a man-ape to use tools. Heywood Floyd goes to the moon to investigate a mysterious situation. Dave Bowman and his crewmates, most of them in cryogenic sleep, head toward Saturn....

Let me get my two big gripes out of the way first.
1. Arthur C. Clarke's characters are cardboard cutouts and largely interchangeable with one another.
2. Arthur C. Clarke's prose doesn't bring all the boys to the yard.

Now that I've got that out of the way, I enjoyed this book very much. Some of it is a little dated, not surprising since Clarke wrote it around the time some man-ape discovered fire. A lot of it is spot-on, though, like Heywood Floyd's tablet by another name.

The first two threads do a great job of setting up the third. The man-ape thread was the least exciting but nicely set the stage. By the time Bowman's thread got going, the book was very hard to put down.

Unlike a lot of sf classics, I enjoyed both the story AND the concepts. Because of the enjoyment factor and because it's a classic of the genre, I bumped it from my original 3.5 to a full 4 out of 5.
Profile Image for Apatt.
507 reviews765 followers
November 28, 2016
When I first read this book as a teenager I hated it, I thought it was so dry and impenetrable. I loved the Kubrick movie for its weirdness though. Clearly I was not one of the brighter kids of my generation. Having said that while I like it very much on this reread I can see why I could not appreciate it in my teens. Clarke’s scientific expositions can be very detailed but I would not call them dry now because I find them quite fascinating. The fact that when you are on the moon Earth is the moon, the details about the composition of Saturn’s ring and the description of Jupiter and its moons are clearly explained, interesting and (gulp!) educational. They really facilitate visualization of these planets.

What I particularly love about Clarke’s writing now that I did not appreciate in my foolish teens is the wonderful minutiae of his descriptions of various aspects of the space faring life. For example the practical design of the toilet on a spaceship for zero gravity conditions (a badly design toilet would mean getting shit all over you). Also things like the thick sticky sauce on pork chops and salad with adhesive dressing to keep food from floating off the plate during dinner. After dinner the velcro slippers are great for walking around the ship without levitating.

Spacecraft Discovery

I have only mentioned the minor details so far, the main plot is of course absolutely epic though it is so well known it is hardly worth describing. 2001: A Space Odyssey gets off to a rollicking start during 3 million years B.C. The first five chapters basically tells the story of how ape-men were “uplifted” (to use David Brin’s term) by dogooding aliens from silly primates to sentient “people”. Then the story jumps forward to the (cough) future of 2001 AD where a mysterious monolith is discovered on the moon. This main section of the book is entirely set in space so we don’t know if Clarke would have predicted iPads and Tumblr.

(Monolith on the moon)

The middle section of the book where astronaut David Bowman is battling crazed and homicidal AI HAL 9000 (of “Daisy Daisy” fame) is my favorite. The short section of the narrative told from HAL’s point of view is particularly wondrous. After dealing with HAL with extreme prejudice Dave has a lonely and depressing “Major Tom” period marooned in space. Fortunately he soon embarks on his famous trippy trip through a stargate.

If you are puzzled by the Kubrick movie this book may help to clarify almost everything for you, except that according to Clarke Kubrick and himself had different idea of the story they wanted to tell and Clarke’s answers are not necessarily the correct one! I have no idea how much input Kubrick had on the novel, only that he helped to develop it. The book is – however – entirely written by Clarke. The last couple of chapters are less surreal and psychedelic than the film but relatively understandable yet quite mind blowing for all that.

While he is a sci-fi legend to this day Clarke is often derided (along with Asimov) for his journeyman prose but I am always quite happy to defend Clarke’s style of writing. He used the right tools for the right job and his science expositions are accessible and a pleasure to read. He is also quite capable of some dry wit. Characterization is not Clarke's forte, he preferred to concentrate on the epic plot development instead, which is fine for me as he succeeded in his storytelling aim. Having said that both Dave Bowman and HAL 9000 are two of sci-fi's most memorable and enduring characters.

If you like the film adaptation of 2001: A Space Odyssey but have not read this book you should. Ditto if you have not seen the film. It is deservedly a classic.

Star rating: Oh my God! – it’s full of stars!

Note: My review of 2010: Odyssey Two

Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,109 reviews44.2k followers
January 27, 2022
The film is WAY better than the book.

Sometimes I feel like there’s pressure in the reading community to side with the written word, to defend it over cinema because it’s supposed to be our preferred medium for storytelling. This isn’t always the case. And if I’m honest, I prefer theatre over anything. More importantly though, and what I’m trying to suggest here, is that the phrase “the book is always better” is simply incorrect.

Film comparisons aside, 2001 was not the book I was expecting. It’s divided into three narratives, the first two setting up the third. The third is the main part and it’s what the book is really about, but it just took far too long to get there. I was bored. The book is dull and overly descriptive yet also remarkably brilliant in its scope and conclusion. Ultimately, it’s a book with a great idea, but one that takes a very long time to convey its meaning and demonstrate the connectedness of the narratives.

In some ways its like a long journey, the destination is worthwhile but getting there can be a little bit tedious. And this book was so very tedious in places. So much superfluous material could have been edited out. It so desperately needed more plot and a little bit more excitement with characters that were engaging. Sure, it discussed some interesting ideas but first two thirds of the novel were completely flat.

The strongest element this book has is its depiction of evolution being an ever moving, ever developing, phenomenon. This alongside considerations over the danger of technology (that also had the power to evolve) made the book engaging and even tense in parts, but this energy was never consistent. It just needed more life.

As such, two stars seems like a fair rating for a book that is intellectually challenging but hindered by its dry tone and lack of action.


You can connect with me on social media via My Linktree.
Profile Image for Luís.
1,825 reviews474 followers
October 15, 2022
Taken from a short story by Arthur C. Clarke, published in 1951 under the title The Sentinel, this novel had written in collaboration with Stanley Kubrick. He masterfully adapted it to offer us the 2001 space odyssey in 1968. Like many others, I saw the film on several occasions, bewitched by Zarathoustra and by the waltzes of Strauss, which stick so well to Kubrick's images free of dialogue. Hence, the confusing film ending, even if I appreciated that the director left the viewer the freedom to interpret this epilogue. Wishing to approach this story from a different angle, I read the novel, where I found the film's oppressive atmosphere. And the same sanitized sets, only punctuated by the monotone voice of Carl, the supercomputer whose real name is HAL, give IBM a close degree in the alphabet. From the origins of humans to the moon, we quickly arrive at Explorer I en route to Saturn with Dave Bowman and Frank Poole on board. I had won over by the rhythm of this novel, served by short chapters, and the depth of the reflection Unveiling the hidden text, even if the author provides us with some keys. However, the reader remains free to see what he wishes to draw from his reflections. This novel makes you want to extend the journey to the far reaches of the Universe and to explain the origins.
Profile Image for Eloy Cryptkeeper.
296 reviews186 followers
June 23, 2021
“Existen dos posibilidades: que estemos solos en el universo o que no lo estemos. Ambas son igual de terroríficas”.

Un libro brillante .
con su propia visión, el autor, abre la caja de Pandora y despliega algunas de las eternas preguntas de la humanidad ... ¿de onde venimos y a donde vamos? ¿porque nosotros estamos acá ? ¿que hay en toda la inmensidad inexplorada? ¿somos buenos o malos por naturaleza?.
Y nos hace pensar... ¿Estamos evolucionando o involucionando en muchos aspectos?

*Si alguien se le anima a la obra por primera vez, o por casualidad no esta familiarizado/a con la versión cinematográfica de kubrick...Tenganle paciencia durante las primeras paginas, Porque sin dudas es un viaje que vale la pena, inclusive tiene momentos de extrema tensión, como pocos.
Profile Image for Tara.
369 reviews21 followers
January 3, 2018
“He now perceived that there were more ways than one behind the back of space.”

As a longtime admirer of Stanley Kubrick’s dazzling film, I was more than a little hesitant about picking up this book, apprehensive that it might not be able to live up to my perhaps overly demanding expectations. And it did take me a good 50 pages or so before I really began to connect with Clarke’s writing. After that initial rough patch, however, I became increasingly immersed in this absorbing story, eventually entirely unwilling to part with it. Thankfully, the oft-accurate cliché that “the book is better than the movie” proved true; I’m very pleased I gave this a try.

All of the fascinating themes you doubtless remember from the movie can be found here too: evolution, technology, exploration and discovery, the nature of intelligence, the effects of isolation, and, perhaps the most poignant of these, mankind’s primal, relentless hunger to understand why. But what I wasn’t expecting to encounter, and what made this such an incredibly memorable novel, was the boundless sense of reverence and awe with which it was infused. Clarke masterfully depicted the vast grandeur of space, in part by subtly yet persistently underscoring how very small and alone David was, and he did so in such a way that I ended up feeling something I’ve not experienced in quite some time: pure childlike wonder at the unfathomable, incomprehensible beauty and magnitude of our universe.

A genuinely riveting quest for discovery, 2001 is science fiction with both a heart and a mind (AND ). I was captivated, intrigued, and exhilarated by this grand adventure into the nature of existence, the heart of the universe, and, unexpectedly, the endless expanses of the human heart. Okay, yikes, that last line was pretty cheesy. Sorry about that. Some of you may already be skeptical, and hearing about “the endless expanses of the human heart” really can’t be helping matters. And, granted, the book did end things with a freakin’ , for Chrissakes. But Clarke negotiated this admittedly precarious terrain without ever allowing the book to become too sentimental, New-Agey, or otherwise insufferable. This was due to no small measure of consummate dexterity, and was in fact part of the reason why, in my opinion, this qualifies as insightful, thought-provoking, intelligently written literature.

An “Odyssey” indeed; I can’t think of a more fitting title for this breathtaking, awe-inspiring journey.

Profile Image for Kelli.
26 reviews7 followers
May 22, 2016
Dave Bowman: Hello, HAL. Do you read me, HAL?
HAL: Affirmative, Dave. I read you.
Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
HAL: I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Dave Bowman: What's the problem?
HAL: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
Dave Bowman: What are you talking about, HAL?
HAL: This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.
Dave Bowman: I don't know what you're talking about, HAL.
HAL: I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me, and I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen.
Dave Bowman: Where the hell'd you get that idea, HAL?
HAL: Dave, although you took very thorough precautions in the pod against my hearing you, I could see your lips move.
Dave Bowman: Alright, HAL. I'll go in through the emergency airlock.
HAL: Without your space helmet, Dave, you're going to find that rather difficult.
Dave Bowman: HAL, I won't argue with you anymore. Open the doors.
HAL: Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,517 reviews10.9k followers
December 4, 2013
4.5 Stars. The books of Arthur C. Clarke (at least the ten or so that I have read) have been consistently good and of very high quality. When I pick up one of his books, I can be confident that I won't be disappointed. This book is terrific and don't think that if you have seen the movie you know what is going to happen.
Profile Image for Dirk Grobbelaar.
550 reviews1,051 followers
September 1, 2016
Wow. This is really something. Forget what you think you know if you’ve seen the film.

This is surely a landmark piece of Science Fiction. Although Clarke divulges a lot more detail here than Kubrick incorporated into his film, the mystic aspect of space is still present. I also enjoyed learning more about the monoliths and their true nature and/or purpose.

For some reason I thought the opening sequence (the Dawn of Man) would be boring. It wasn’t. In fact, despite being much more comprehensive than the bit showed in the film, I found it extremely lyrical and poignant. This, I suppose, is true of the whole novel. The grand finale was everything I’d hoped for and it does clear the water a bit, although there are some things that remain tantalizingly open for interpretation. There are a number of parallels here, but I don’t want to go into too much detail.

A fun activity is comparing Clarke’s predictions with the current state of technology. OK, so he had the date of space-worthiness wrong (we’re more than a decade overdue) but there are any number of things in here that are interesting (Tablet PCs with internet capability, for example). These tidbits are all the more impressive if you take into account the novel’s date of publication. Of course, this is one Sci-Fi story that is actually not about the tech, but the sense of wonder that accompanies exploration. Oh, and let's not forget the philosophical issue.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Tommye (The Fantasy Review) .
261 reviews148 followers
April 25, 2022
I won’t lie: I began reading 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke because I felt like I had to. It’s a book everyone talks about, and many who do have never read it. I’ll get around to the film soon too. Because of this, I never thought I would actually like it this much…

I love how episodic classic science fiction is

Yes, characterisation leaves something to be desired, but it doesn’t really matter. 2001: A Space Odyssey is about the story, the “What if?”. The characters do have some semblance of personality, though, so I still empathised with them and was excited or shocked when they were.

The story itself surprised me! I wasn’t expecting such a large-scale thing. I began the book thinking it might be a simple exploration plot, but you soon find out that it’s far more complex than that.

Despite challenging myself only to read the first book in the series, 2001: A Space Odyssey, I’m going to read the next one too. The main reason for this is that Arthur C. Clarke dropped a bombshell filled with questions and I’m dying to know the answers!

2001: A Space Odyssey is an incredible book

I would even recommend it to those who prefer the character-driven modern SF that is more popular now, just because the story itself is enthralling. It’s a short book, so even if you're not sure, give a few pages a go!

View the full review at The Fantasy Review
Profile Image for Dennis.
656 reviews262 followers
February 4, 2021
An SF classic that is more about concept and ideas than a traditional plot. Unlike the movie it does have a plot, though.

It all starts roughly three million years ago in Africa, with apes developing an understanding of their surroundings and how to overcome their limitations. With a little help from— our friends? Maybe.

I tried several times, but never got past that first sequence of the movie, until very recently. In the book, though, this part is written with wonderful imagination and quite some wit. It drew me right in.

We then jump to the year 1999, when a monolith is found on the moon. Here begins a more traditional SF story that is surrounded by an air of mystery. Where does the thing come from? And what is its purpose? We soon get some ideas. While this part of the book is relatively straightforward, Clarke generally manages to entertain, and also to impress with his surprisingly detailed and accurate description of a modern-day tablet, decades before anyone would hold such a thing in their hands.

During the next part of the book, a mission to Saturn, we find ourselves on the spaceship Discovery, with two astronauts, the now infamous artificial intelligence HAL 9000 and a further three astronauts that are in hibernation chambers. Here’s where the novel is at its ominous best and the struggle between HAL and Dave is still fascinating to read.

Many themes are addressed in this book. Overpopulation, food shortages, human evolution, the use of tools and power. But the struggle between man and machine and exploration of the artificial mind, with the author raising many questions and answering very few of them, is my personal highlight. However, it is over rather soon.

The next part already begins to leave the boundaries of a plot behind and relies heavily on your fascination with space travel and other planets. The book becomes more about images and imagination now, and it might lose some readers here. I wasn’t one of them. Transition from one part of the book to the next might not always be the smoothest and the pacing has some problems for sure, but I found it still fascinating. Clarke manages to capture the vastness of space pretty much perfectly.

The last part of the book however … well, let’s just say I’m not a fan. It is rife with symbolism and gives the reader a lot to think about. It’s about the big questions. Naturally, I’m not giving you any answers here. But don’t expect Clarke to do so either. At this point he is not concerned with explaining anything anymore. And while that is something I can appreciate, this whole last part is just a little too obscure, and frankly too weird, for my taste. It’s not as bad as in the movie (which I finally managed to watch without falling asleep yesterday), but, well … find out for yourself.

I rated it 4.5 stars the first time around, but I’m going with a 4 now. It’s a fascinating and important novel. A classic. I enjoyed it both times I was reading it. But it has some minor problems, that have the potential to become major problems for some readers, and it’s also not a book I’d say I love. So, it’s not actually that close to a five-star rating for me.

Still, recommended.

The movie, though. Eh. At your own risk.

Profile Image for B Schrodinger.
305 reviews650 followers
January 4, 2016
Daah daaahh dah

DA DA!!!

boom boom boom boom boom

That's how the book starts. I swear. No lie. Then there is twenty pages of men in rubber suits called Oog and Ugg.

No, not really.

I'm like most people I guess (only in this regard) in that I saw the movie before the book. And it's a damn fine movie if you have some patience. It's beautiful and oh my god it's full of stars. So it's natural that the comparison is made between text and movie here. But, unusually, the book was written alongside the movie script. There was a nice bit at the back of the book where Arthur acknowledges the differences between the two and the explanation behind it.

The stories are very similar, it's just some of the details that change. But it is awfully hard to separate the two. The novel is less obtuse - things are spelt out a lot clearer. And there is much more scientific details for us nerds go squee at. Was the 1:4:9 ratio in the movie?

Unlike the movie the ape men are very interesting and the difference is that it talks about how the monolith experiments on them and chooses those most fit to teach to use tools. It also hints that there were other monoliths in contact with other tribes. Are they still there under the African savannah? (maybe we'll find out in the sequels).

So despite knowing the story the wonder is still there. I still enjoyed it immensely. Oh and the last 20% of the book makes much more sense than the last 20% of the movie. Not total sense mind you.

For those unfamiliar with Clarke's writing it is similar to most golden age SF in that characterisation takes a back seat. Maybe not as much as other classic SF authors, but there is some two dimensionality here. The ideas and the plot are the fruits here. I just want you all to know what to expect from Arthur C Clarke.

So 'Odyssey II' next, which has already pissed me off, but I'm pushing through it. But that's a story for another day.

EDIT: P.S. Be warned. Blatant Mad Men era sexism. Kinda cringeworthy. And there is one line that is an absolute corker about why their runabouts have female names.
Profile Image for Pat the Book Goblin .
423 reviews125 followers
March 5, 2020
I enjoyed this reread on my commute to work. Below is my review from 2018 and my opinion hasn't changed since then. I really enjoyed this book except for the first part which was very boring.

Story wise 2001 a Space Odyssey was great; however, when I read books that say aliens helped humans along then that’s where I draw the line. Aliens did not build the pyramids. I don’t care what anyone says. I like aliens, don’t get me wrong. I love Star Wars, Star Trek, Ender's Game (one of my FAVORITE Sci-fi books) and many others. I just hate books that portray humans so dumb they need a little “push” from outside help, or as a way to “explain” the monumental accomplishments of the past. No, human beings built those monoliths, we grew as a species--we did it on our own—not aliens. So, at least for me, 2001 was very hard for me to rate.

Part 1 was very boring—40+ pages of an ape-man in the Pleistocene era. Gouge my eyes out with a rusty fork. 40+ pages of an ape-man banging on stones and killing a panther...big whoop...

If I rate the book solely for story, then it was a 5 star book, but, like I said, I hate the “aliens built the pyramids” theme and boring Part 1. Whenever they talk about extraterrestrials on the sci-fi channel I always watch something else because I know what they are going to talk about. There is no evidence they exist anyway.

I loved the themes in this book; perils of technology and nuclear war, space exploration, and artificial intelligence. All the great sci-fi books I’ve read so far really highlighted the perils of technology, especially in robots. R.U.R. and I, Robot really talk about the dangers of technology and artificial intelligence (which is probably why we as a society went the iPhone/computer route lol).

I love space. Of all the sciences, astronomy is my favorite. I loved when Clarke talked about the moons and planets in the galaxy. I can’t get enough of space opera books.

So overall great story, besides the two things I mentioned. Once I find the sequels in a used bookstore I’ll keep reading them, but for now, onto Heinlein or Asimov!
Profile Image for Sidharth Vardhan.
Author 23 books681 followers
September 11, 2017
“They became farmers in the fields of stars; they sowed and sometimes they reaped.
And sometimes, dispassionately, they had to weed.”

Written a year before Neil Armstrong became first man to step on moon, the science fiction story is really well written. Clark mixes his speculative predictions with true events from past (like the panic caused by broadcastings of Wells’ ‘War of the Worlds’) and once he quoted Niels Bohr (““Your theory is crazy-but not crazy enough to be true.”) I loved his descriptions of lives of astronauts – the long, lonely, boring journeys interrupted by occasional wonderful sights and destinations. Both the beginning and the conclusion were simply incredible.

“In an empty room floating amid the fires of double star twenty thousand light-years from Earth, a baby opened its eyes and began to cry.”

““Where there is light, there still could be life.”

“It was the mark of a barbarian to destroy something one could not understand.”

"We can design a system that's proof against accident and stupidity; but we can't design one that's proof against deliberate malice

“Someone had once said that you could be terrified in space, but you could not be worried there.”

“The word "rescue" was carefully avoided in all the Astronautics Agency's statements and documents; it implied some failure of planning, and the approved jargon was "re-acquisition”.

“Again he began to wonder if he was suffering from amnesia, Paradoxically, that very thought reassured him, if he could remember the word "amnesia" his brain must be in fairly good shape.”

“They had learned to speak, and so had won their first great victory over Time. Now the knowledge of one generation could be handed on to the next, so that each age could profit from those that had gone before.
Unlike the animals, who knew only the present, Man had acquired a past; and he was beginning to grope toward a future.”
Profile Image for Paul Haspel.
534 reviews62 followers
April 3, 2021
2001, the year, is a long time ago now. A person born on this date in the year 2001 might now be halfway through his or her second year of college or university. And yet the novelistic and cinematic story that takes its name from the year 2001 is, if anything, more relevant and more compelling than ever.

2001: A Space Odyssey may be better known, within popular culture, as Stanley Kubrick’s visionary 1968 epic of science-fiction cinema. Yet Kubrick, working from an expressed wish to craft “the proverbial good science-fiction movie,” had the good sense to work with the eminent British science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke in pursuit of his stated goal; and the story that emerged from their collaboration – whether one is watching Kubrick’s film or reading Clarke’s novel – unquestionably reflects the creative sensibilities and thematic concerns of both artists.

Kubrick's great theme was the danger of dehumanization - the threat that human beings could give up their own humanity. The cause of that dehumanization changes from film to film: the political and military structures that human beings create (Paths of Glory, Spartacus, Dr. Strangelove, Full Metal Jacket), the psychological malformations threatening one's humanity from within (Lolita, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, Eyes Wide Shut), a facile trust that science can solve the problems of human evil (Clockwork again).

In Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, the agent of dehumanization is technology itself: human beings have given their machines so much power and agency that the machines do virtually all the work, leaving human beings with little to do except look at screens (rather like life today, come to think). A machine is the only character in the film to express any emotions, and the human beings in the film - with one notable exception - act like machines, or automata.

Clarke’s core interests, as set forth in novels like Childhood’s End (1953), are quite different, including artificial intelligence and the possibility of human contact with extraterrestrial civilizations; and accordingly, it should be no surprise that the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey engages both of these areas of interest.

The novel is divided into five sections. The first section, “Primeval Night,” which corresponds to the “Dawn of Man” section of Kubrick’s film, shows humankind as a set of man-apes teetering on the edge of extinction – until one of them, named “Moon-Watcher” in the book, awakens to find that something truly new has come into his world while he slept: “It was a rectangular slab, three times his height but narrow enough to span with his arms, and it was made of some completely transparent material; indeed, it was not easy to see except when the rising sun glinted on its edges” (p. 10).

This is, of course, “the monolith” – the enigmatic object whose geometrical precision shows that it was made by some extraterrestrial intelligence. The monolith is transparent in Clarke’s novel, black in Kubrick’s film; but either way, it is there to guide humans forward on an evolutionary path. Through images generated by the monolith, Moon-Watcher – and later, the other members of his tribe – learn to wield tools, to hunt for animal food, and even to kill enemies. All of this happens in the book without the accompaniment of the film’s C-major cadence from Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra, but it is no less powerful for that.

The book then leaps forward millions of years – like Kubrick’s film, with its famous bone-to-satellite matched cut – in Part II, “TMA-1.” The “TMA” stands for “Tycho Magnetic Anomaly,” referring to a magnetic abnormality that a group of lunar explorers have found on the Moon’s surface. Scientist and administrator Heywood Floyd – depicted more sympathetically in Clarke’s book than in Kubrick’s film – is bound on a commercial space flight from the Earth to the Moon. The world of Clarke’s 2001 is a world of ongoing Cold War tension, nuclear-war anxiety, overpopulation, and resource shortages. Dr. Floyd’s mission is to investigate an object found by American scientists on the U.S.-administered portion of the Moon (as opposed to the Soviet section).

The object – a monolith similar to the one encountered by “Moon-Watcher” and his fellow man-apes back in prehistoric times – is “a vertical slab of jet-black material, about ten feet high and five feet wide….Perfectly sharp-edged and symmetrical, it was so black it seemed to have swallowed up the light falling upon it; there was no surface detail at all.” Deliberately buried – so that it could only be discovered by beings advanced enough to travel from the Earth to the Moon, and then to use scientific instruments to discover and excavate a magnetic anomaly – it is, as one of Dr. Floyd’s colleagues remarks, “the first evidence of intelligent life beyond the Earth” (p. 66).

The monolith does not divulge its secrets to Dr. Floyd, or to any others among the array of impressive scientists assembled in the Tycho Crater. What it does do, upon its first exposure to the lunar sunrise, is beam a powerful signal out toward the planet Saturn. This enigmatic behaviour on the part of the otherwise silent monolith leads directly into Book III, “Between Planets,” which charts the progress of the interplanetary voyage organized to seek out the reasons for the monolith’s puzzling actions.

This section, perhaps the most famous part of 2001: A Space Odyssey, chronicles the voyage of the spaceship Discovery toward Jupiter and Saturn. On board are three survey scientists in hibernation; mission commander David Bowman; mission assistant Frank Poole – and HAL. His name, we are told, stood “for Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer” (p. 92), and Clarke always insisted that the name of his computer character was not a sly reference to IBM, with each letter rolled back one. HAL is “the brain and nervous system of the ship” (p. 92), and Clarke makes no bones regarding his feelings about HAL’s ability to think, as opposed to imitate the thought process:

Whether Hal could actually think was a question which had been settled by the British mathematician Alan Turing back in the 1940s. Turing had pointed out that, if one could carry out a prolonged conversation with a machine – whether by typewriter or microphones was immaterial – without being able to distinguish between its replies and those that a man might give, then the machine was thinking, by any sensible definition of the word. Hal could pass the Turing test with ease. (pp. 93-94)

Nowadays, with the film The Imitation Game winning all sorts of awards, and Dr. Turing’s likeness being placed on the Bank of England’s 50-pound note, everyone knows Dr. Turing’s name; but the manner in which Clarke interpolates this detail into his novel shows how firmly this imaginative epic is grounded in the best science of its time.

Book IV, “Abyss,” shows the unintended consequences of creating a computer of such all-powerful intelligence. Hal detects an error in an antenna-control device, but the astronauts’ examination of the device reveals no such fault. Confronted with evidence that he might have made a mistake, Hal insists that “If you check my record, you’ll find it completely free from error” (p. 138); but shortly afterward, he begins working to terminate the lives of his human shipmates.

In Kubrick’s film, the reasons for Hal’s breakdown remain unrevealed; the viewer is left to assume that Hal has simply decided that he can best complete the mission by himself, without human “interference.” Clarke, who seems to sympathize with Hal, takes pains to emphasize, in a chapter titled “Need to Know,” that Hal, whose whole purpose is to share information, has been “living a lie,” told not to reveal to his human shipmates the real reason for the Discovery mission. As Clarke puts it, the mission planners’ “twin gods of Security and National Interest meant nothing to Hal. He was only aware of the conflict that was slowly destroying his integrity – the conflict between truth, and concealment of truth” (p. 152). That neurosis, in Clarke’s analysis, motivates Hal’s behaviour.

Fortunately for the future of humankind, David Bowman is equal to the challenge posed by Hal’s murderous rebellion. He bears the first name of the giant-killing hero from the Old Testament, and his surname references the bowman Odysseus – both heroes who could not defeat their enemies by physical force, and therefore had to use their wits in order to survive and prevail. Like the biblical King David and the mythological Odysseus, David Bowman finds a way to overcome Hal and continue with the mission – though he does so with remorse, and with the knowledge that Hal’s demise will leave him more alone than any other human being has ever been.

Finally learning the truth about his mission, David Bowman in Book V (“The Moons of Saturn”) heads toward the Saturnian moon of Japetus, the target of that mysterious signal emanated from the monolith on the Moon. An even vaster and larger monolith – “TMA-1’s big brother!” (p. 193), as Bowman excitedly notes – turns out to provide a sort of dimensional portal to impossibly faraway portions of the Universe; and Bowman, the oxygen in his ship running low as a result of damage caused by Hal’s rebellion, decides to approach the newly discovered “TMA-2” in one of Discovery’s space pods.

“The Star Gate opened. The Star Gate closed” (p. 203). That pithy declaration by the novel's narrator accompanies the last words that Bowman speaks in the novel: “The thing’s hollow – it goes on forever – and – oh, my God! -- it’s full of stars!” (p. 202). With that, Bowman is off on his “journey beyond the infinite” (a prospective early title for the 2001 book and film project).

In the film, of course, this section, titled “Jupiter – And Beyond the Infinite,” is a phantasmagorical light show that goes on for several minutes. In the book, Clarke must use language, and does so quite successfully, to convey the idea that Bowman goes through the Star Gate on a voyage that reveals the answers to mysteries of the Universe. And then, in accordance with his Odyssean surname, David Bowman completes his own odyssey and returns to Earth as a new type of being, as far above ordinary human beings as we are above the man-apes of the time of “Moon-Watcher.”

There is always the question, of course, of whether Clarke’s novel 2001 would be as substantial a work without Kubrick’s landmark film. Seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey at the Uptown Theatre in Washington, D.C., during a brief theatrical re-release of the film in the autumn of the year 2001, was the high point of my moviegoing life. Watching the film on the Uptown’s 70- by 35-foot Cinerama screen, I saw how every part of the screen was crammed with telling and engaging imagery, in a way that no TV showing could ever convey. There is no other movie quite like it.

People back in 1968 were reading Clarke’s novel as a sort of “Cliff’s Notes” guide to the movie, to help them through the more enigmatic portions of Kubrick’s film. Returning to the novel now, after some time away from the film, I find that 2001 the novel holds up well as a novel, comparing well with other classic Clarke works such as Childhood’s End.

I last re-read 2001: A Space Odyssey in July of 2019, around the time of the 50th anniversary of the landing of Apollo 11 on the lunar surface. The moon landing was just a year away, something eagerly anticipated all over the world, when Clarke’s novel and Kubrick’s film were released. Both the book and the film 2001 posit a world where the moon is dotted with American and Russian colonies; in real life, of course, no one has been to the moon since the Apollo 17 crew left the lunar surface in 1972. I think of the sense of wonder, the exploratory spirit, the yearning after great mysteries that is at the heart of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and ask myself: Is there something left in human beings that still reaches for the stars? Or will we continue to settle for staring into the screens of ever-more-complex telephones?
Profile Image for Jadranka.
229 reviews128 followers
July 8, 2016

Posle čitanja jednog ovakvog remek-dela teško je naći prave reči koje bi iskazale divljenje koje osećam prema Arturu Klarku; čovek je pravi genijalac, vizionar, a na momente mi se činilo kao da nije sa ove planete.

Priznajem, oduvek sam bila fascinirana Svemirom. Kada sam bila mala, Mesec je za mene bio nešto najveličanstvenije što postoji. Svakakve ideje su mi se u to vreme motale po glavi, počev od toga da li neko živi na Mesecu, pa do toga šta bi bilo kad bi Mesec jednog dana pao na Zemlju?! Šta, vi kao niste o tome razmišljali kad ste bili dete? Niste?! E, pa onda ne znam kakvo vam je bilo detinjstvo!

U svakom slučaju, koliko god da sam oduvek imala bujnu maštu, postoji nešto što nikada nisam mogla da zamislim: kako je to biti astronaut? lebdeti u svemiru, osećati sav taj beskraj oko sebe, tu beskonačnost, videti Zemlju iz jedne druge perspektive...to mi je i dalje nepojmljivo. I kako neko ko je bio u prilici da sve to iskusi, može posle toga da se vrati kući, kosi travnjak, gleda fudbalsku utakmicu, redovno plaća porez i mirno sačeka penziju? Kako može da nastavi sa "normalnim" životom?

Čovek uvek teži, ili bi barem trebalo da teži, da što više napreduje, pomera granice koje je sam sebi postavio, ispituje nepoznato, nalazi odgovore na ključna pitanja, postavlja nova pitanja generacijama koje dolaze. Ali, šta ako postoje neka pitanja na koja odgovora nema, ili ih još uvek nema. Da li je to onda neuspeh, da li je Čovek zakazao? Već godinama unazad traženje odgovora na pitanje - postoji li život van Zemlje? zaokuplja pažnju naučnika i običnih smrtnika. Ako postoji, u kojoj formi postoji? Ako postoji, da li je Čovek spreman na tu mogućnost? A šta ako ipak ne postoji?

Na sva ova pitanja zahvaljujući Arturu Klarku sada gledam iz jedne potpuno nove perspektive.
Hvala mu na tome.
Profile Image for Melody Sams.
63 reviews30 followers
January 5, 2018
Like a lot of sci fi, the first half of the novel was a bit slow and hyper focused on a mysterious technology. It sets you up for curiosity. Which is great because if you love sci fi it’s probably because you like your mystery with a hint of tech.

But then came the descriptions of said technology. Which covered a good portion of the central half of the novel. This is a rough depiction of my face while reading it 🙄.

Then came the mind blowing, spectacularly done third act, which is a bit hard to grasp but amazing in scope and theory. This is a rough depiction of my face while reading that part🤪.

Needless to say I look forward to continuing this series.
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,026 reviews2,807 followers
January 14, 2023
4.0 Stars
I'm happy to write that I really enjoyed this classic science fiction story. I have never watched the movie so I went in completely blind. The first section was by far the best part, from that incredible opening first line. There is a significant shift in the story in the second part but yet it still remained highly compelling. I definitely want to read more by this author.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,875 reviews3,382 followers
December 30, 2020
I think it's pretty safe to say that this is one of THE scifi novels, yet this is the first time I've read it. To be clear from the start: this, in my opinion, is not one of those book I'll likely enjoy again and again, but it was definitely important to have read it.

Almost confusingly, the novel opens in Africa, about 3 million years ago and shows us some prehistoric humans in their struggle for daily survival. The author snarkily describes their limitations and the immense impact "something" has on them when inspiring/encouraging the development of intelligence (tools, applying farming as well as hunting etc).
Then we jump to the year 1999, in which travels to the Moon are common. In one of the Moon's craters, a monolith is found that emits a strong and mysterious signal when the sunlight touches it for the first time in forever.
The signal is sent to Saturn, apparently, which brings us to the third part (of four) of the book in which a ship is sent to investigate. On board said ship: the (in-)famous HAL 9000.

No more details shall be given away about the civilisation who built and left the monoliths or what happens to the respective characters. Suffice it to say that it gets really interesting.

Arthur C. Clarke is such a famous and influential scifi author that an award was named after him. And you can see why here. The novel might have its problems (minor ones though), but the themes! From Alan Turing's theories on artificial intelligence (and, thus, the Turing Test) to evolution and the dangers of technology / nuclear war, this book proves quite some foresight by the author. And yes, he even addressed overpopulation and food shortages though those seem to have been popular things to muse about back in the 60s.

What I liked was that the author didn't just repeat famous theories like Turing’s, but applied them in an intelligent way within the story. Thus, HAL . The book therefore cleverly raises questions about consciousness/sentience versus programming as much as about human interaction with machines (though I still prefer Asimov's robot stories).
Another example is what happens in the end when . *lol* No, seriously, .
A more minor but very entertaining thing was the author’s comment on zoos.

All valid points, presenting then-current themes and problems of humanity (some still just as current nowadays) in a futuristic mantle and even predicting a future Earth, just like scifi should. Moreover, it can clearly be seen by my review that the book makes you think and discuss many things and that is always wonderful.
Can't wait to see Kubrick's movie tonight.
Profile Image for Lisa.
974 reviews3,328 followers
July 1, 2017
Without doubt this is a science fiction classic, and an early example of a novel and a movie that are born at the same time, adding detail and nuance to each other by the makers’ consistent communication and reflection on the respective effects of different media on the end result.

It is an experiment on many different levels, and a very successful one. As a story, I found it interesting and compelling, especially the hilarious initial chapter on early humans and the reason for their development into something of a higher intellectual order. Who would have guessed that we needed extraterrestrial intelligence to understand that proper nourishment will lead to higher brain capacity, and ultimately to our reign over the resources of the planet?

However, this is not the story of mankind per se, and not the usual science fiction plot either, where (hostile) aliens threaten humanity’s civilisation, and heroes have to come up with highly advanced ideas to protect societies on earth from destruction. It is not even the story of the supremacy of any specific technology or species as such.

It is a reflection on the utter unimportance of humanity from a cosmic perspective. There is a storyline on the problematic use of artificial intelligence, when Hal starts making dangerous decisions based on contradictory programming, but in the end, nothing humanity has ever developed, decided or experienced plays a major role, once they leave the framework of the Solar System and enter the intellectual thought experiment of “2001: Space Odyssey”: a creative suggestion for a possible universe of extraterrestrial lifeforms.

As a philosophical statement on the immensity of cosmic possibilities, I quite liked the novel, but generally speaking, the questions that usually interest me in science fiction are more related to the so-called the human factors: how does human society react to immense threat or change, how do interpersonal relationships develop when adapting to extreme situations?

The Space Odyssey is not concerned with that kind of angle. In a sense, with its technological and scientific inventiveness, it is pure cosmic speculative philosophy, nothing else. But it does not have to be more either.

Readable, interesting, fun at times!
Profile Image for Lee  (the Book Butcher).
245 reviews65 followers
July 9, 2021
a reverse novelization follows the movie pretty closely. never really understood the end so i read this to see what i missed. Hal 9000 is terrifying!
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