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 September, 2012


Cover art: Michael Whelan


ISBN: 0-345-30306-7
Pages: 332
Publisher: Del Rey
Originally published: December 1982
This edition published: February 1984

On the cover:
(Taken from the Random House web site)

Nine years after the disastrous Discovery mission to Jupiter in 2001, a joint U.S.-Soviet expedition sets out to rendezvous with the derelict spacecraft, to search the memory banks of the mutinous computer HAL 9000 for clues to what went wrong . . . and what became of Commander Dave Bowman.

Without warning, a Chinese expedition targets the same objective, turning the recovery mission into a frenzied race for the precious information Discovery may hold about the enigmatic monolith that orbits Jupiter.

Meanwhile, the being that was once Dave Bowman, the only human to unlock the mystery of the monolith, streaks toward Earth on a vital mission of its own . . .

   This is the second book in Clarke's Space Odyssey quartet, and follows 2001: A Space Odyssey. It does function as a direct sequel, and it does a very good job of bringing the reader back to the world of the first book.

   The novel starts out on Earth, but quickly move on to another expedition to Jupiter. Despite having the same destination as in the previous book we get a wholly different journey this time. And Clarke is really good at giving us a realistic feeling for how this journey passes.
   There's quite a bit of hard science involved in the "space exploration" side of this story. And that is something I found very interesting, despite it being dated. Although a lot has happened in the thirty years since this book was published there's still a very good sense of realism, and for me the parts that have been dated by later discoveries didn't impact my enjoyment of the story.

   Alongside the scientific exploration of the solar system, we also get another story that is much more fantastical. And this is a part of the story that adds a lot to the novel as a whole. The return of Dave Bowman, and his part of the story, is fascinating. It does however provide quite a departure from the rest of the book.  It's almost metaphysical, and it takes some effort to get used to the shift in direction.
   Despite this being quite different to the feeling of the rest of the story, it does as I said add a great deal to it. And Clarke shows himself to be very capable of blending two so different elements into a coherent whole. The more fantastical elements would not have worked so well without having a grounding in the more mundane elements of the rest of the story.

   From the start this novel moves at quite a quick pace, it doesn't take long before we are thrown into events. There are some real surprises for the reader before we even get to what is the physical destination of the novel. These add quite a bit of suspense and wonder.
   Suspense and wonder are really the essential elements of the story. The suspense is not only there in the events that unfold, but there is an eerie atmosphere to what is going on that creates some real tension. Clarke keeps his cars close, and it is really hard to get any sort of grip on what is going to happen next.
   As for sense of wonder, there is a lot of it. There are things happening here that are really mindblowing, and they can really stretch your imagination when you try to grasp what is happening. Especially events towards the end make this a work of great imagination.

   Overall this is a really great follow up to 2001: A Space Odyssey. If you have read that book, or seen the film, I'd urge you to get this book and see what Clarke has in store next. The expansion of ideas is great to experience, and it is great reading for those that like near future Science Fiction.
   The more fantastical parts of this novel will make it suitable for those who like their Science Fiction to not be constrained to hard science. And the space exploration part is very much a must for those that find that fascinating.
   This is another great Science Fiction novel from Clarke.

Review: 2001: A Space Odyssey

Link: Del Rey/Spectra

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