This is a blog with spoiler free reviews. Most will be Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror, but there will be some books in other genres, including the occasional Non-Fiction review. There is an ongoing series of Cover Reveal Round-Ups, and sometimes I'll write an article on something that interests me.

27 January, 2011

REVIEW: 2001: A SPACE ODDYSEY

[No cover information available.]

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
BY
ARTHUR C. CLARKE

ISBN: 978-0-451-45799-4
Pages: 296
Publisher: Roc
Publishing date: 1 July 1968

On the cover:

[No flap copy on this edition.]

   Many would argue that this is a tie-in novel for the film by Stanley Kubrick. And you could be excused for classifying it as that, but it is not that easy. According to Clarke's foreword, it is more of a parallel work, that mostly was the basis for the script to the movie. But he also admits that there was some inspiration flowing from the script to the book.
   It is also said that the movie, and that would mean this novel to, is based on Clarke's short story The Sentinel, Clarke explains in the foreword that this is not true. This novel is in fact an expansion of that story, that also includes material from another of Clarke's short stories, but is mostly made up of original material.
 
   As you can see from the above, if you have seen the movie this won't be a new story. But there are several subtle differences between Kubrick's movie and Clarke's book. In fact part of the plot are planets apart.
  
   Clarke reveals much that is not in the movie too. He uses the medium of the novel to give us thoughts and ideas that would not have worked on the screen. And the book is much better for doing that, instead of being a rehashing of the movie.
   This is a much more metaphysical tale than the hippy-trip that the movie is. And that is a part of the novel where Clarke excels in my opinion.

   Clarke has been credited with inventing the idea of satellites, but his predictive powers are much greater here. At one point a main character is reading papers on a "newspad", pretty stunning for something written in the sixties.
   It must be said that some of the astronomy of the book has dated rather badly. Modern probes has given us much that Clarke could not predict, but I didn't feel as if this was a problem, but rather an interesting insight into astronomy over 40 years ago. It was also very interesting to see Clarke's thoughts on future space exploration.

    I think reading this book is a must if you liked the movie. And if you are not familiar with the movie, this is still a very good near future Science Fiction novel that I don't hesitate to recommend.

    I will leave you with a quote from page 64 of the book:

   "There was another thought which a scanning of those electronic headlines often invoked. The more wonderful the means of communication, the more trivial, tawdry, or depressing its contents seemed to be."

LINKS: Ace/Roc (Penguin)

8 comments:

  1. I've always wondered how anyone could make sense of the movie without having read the book.

    Planning on reading the sequels as well?

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  2. I'm not sure the film was supposed to make sense, I think you were supposed to drop or smoke something before seeing it :-p

    Yes, I will be reading the sequels at some later date.
    (I'm actually old enough to have seen 2010 at the cinema when it was new.)

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  3. Well, I'm pathetic. I had no idea this was a movie OR a book. I feel so educated. ;)

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  4. @Sarah Obviously a fault with the US education system :-p

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  5. It must be. Either that or I live under a rock. Either one works.

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  6. Cool review. I read this book a couple years ago, and it's crazy how well it complements the movie. The book certainly gives more coherence to what is present in the movie, and this is really a case where reading the book and watching the movie gives a much fuller experience than just doing one or the other.
    The sequels are enjoyable even if they aren't as good (but I've still got to read 3001). If you haven't read Rendezvous with Rama by Clarke, you should check it out!

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  7. @Kris
    I have read Rendezvous with Rama, and I really liked it. The other Rama books are on my giant to-buy list.
    I also enjoyed Childhood's End and Fountains of Paradise by Clarke.

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  8. @Weirdmage Nice, I haven't read Fountains of Paradise yet, I'll have to add it to my list :) I have a couple of the sequels to Rama, started in on the second one a while back but quit - it's not quite the same since Clarke isn't the sole author, but I plan on giving them another try someday.

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