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Review: 2001 A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

2001: A Space Odyssey (Space Odyssey, #1)2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“The thing’s hollow – it goes on forever – and – oh my God – it’s full of stars

I’ve been rereading this book for over thirty years now and this is the first time I noticed the significance of the name of not just Bowman but also Moon-Watcher, the Pleistocene-era character (#litfail).

So, the history of this book is tied completely to the movie that it is a sibling to: it complements the Kubrick film, rather than is spun-off from it: Sir Arthur wrote the book in conjunction with the production of the film and based it upon the screenplay he wrote with Stanley Kubrick. There are some divergent paths it takes from the film – the bulk of the film takes place along the backdrop of Jupiter, whereas here it is Saturn, and the last half-hour of the film is explained completely coherently here. In fact, it’s handy to read the book as well as watch the film for a completely immersive experience, IMNSHO.

I love it: Clarke’s dry, matter-of-fact, optimistic style is perfect for a story such as this. Especially when the story takes the darker turn as HAL begins to become conflicted about his mission and makes mistakes. He is also a great explainer of his ideas and worlds; so much so that what should feel like dry exposition is a gleeful expansion of the world behind the story. And there is so much world that other writers would leave out for the sake of plot. However, Clarke isn’t that interested in complicated storylines: nothing is wasted or thrown in for extra excitement. This is SF as the true “literature of ideas.”

But it has dated: for one thing, it’s now 2016 and we still don’t have a manned Moon base or working cryogenics, or true AI, malevolent or otherwise. Clarke has a great strike rate for predictions, but he misses a few boats here. So this now becomes an exercise in what the future may have looked liked 60 years ago.

Which is a bit depressing.

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~ by stuffianlikes on December 31, 2016 .