Monday, January 3, 2011

2010: Odyssey two

Arthur C. Clarke
Del Rey, 1982 (my copy is from 1982)
Size: Average (my copy has 288 pages)
Theme: Space exploration
Narrative: Third-person
Main character: Heywood Floyd
Recommended minimum age: Teenager
Would purchase as a gift to any sci-fi reader: YES

This is the second book of the 2001 series, which is heralded by many as one of the best sci-fi novels of all times. Analogously to what happened to the first book of the series, “2010: A space Odyssey”, the book “2010” was also portrayed as a motion picture. However, that movie did not have the success of its predecessor (although I enjoyed it very much). The last 2 books of the series have analogous names, namely, “2061” and “3001”. By author prerogative, these books are not linear sequels of each other, meaning, some basic facts actually change each book, in part due to the fact that recent advances in science (particularly astronomy) were always taken into consideration as each book was written.

In “2010”, events pick up years after Bowman disappeared into the monolith. The empty vessel Discovery lies in orbit of Jupiter (“Jupiter?!?”, you ask? Yes, the book and the movie chose different scenarios for the final moments of “2001”, and in “2010”, Clarke decided to follow the theatrical plot version). A new spaceship is sent to retrieve the information inside Discovery and to verify whether they could further study the monolith anomaly. However, events will unfold (as expected) in unexpected ways and humanity will be forced to review its assumptions of the universe.

This book should be read after “2001”. As in the previous book, a veil of mystery surrounds the monoliths and their creators. However, in this book, several aspects will be unveiled and explained, including the reasons behind the erratic behavior of HAL in the previous book. The purpose of the monoliths will also be described. I found this book as good as the previous one, with the same technological rigor and immersive plot. It is a casebook definition of what a sequel should be.

Spoilers (warning: the following text contains information that may hamper/ruin how much you enjoy the book):
After reaching Discovery, Floyd is visited by the new form of David Bowman, who also made a small stop at Earth upon his return to our solar system. Bowman warns them to leave immediately. The astronauts all gather in the Leonov and manage to depart back for Earth before Jupiter is consumed by the monolith devices in order to create a small star, so that life on Europa (one of Jupiter’s moon) may thrive.

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