Saturday, January 17, 2009

Arthur C. Clarke/2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY

Clarke wrote this novel around the same time he co-wrote (with Kubrick) the screenplay for the movie of the same name. While the movie is very long, slow, and difficult to follow (and, IMO, awesome!) the book is quite short and much more accessible.

2001 is about the quest to discover how a mysterious structure came to be buried under the surface of the moon 4 million years before humans first ventured into space. Even more shocking than the answer to this enigma is what happens to the astronaut who journeys to Saturn to solve it.

This novel is pretty much the epitome of classic science fiction, and Clarke infuses such wonder and suspense into his story that I can't help picturing him writing it on the edge of his seat. While the dialog is sparse, and the pondering about human evolution and technological advancement often takes over, the story is full of mind-blowing turns that are fun to discover.


Froog said...

The seed of the story - the idea of the alien beacon left on the moon - was originally a short story called The Sentinel, which was written quite a few years earlier. The novel didn't come out until after the film, I think (and I'm pretty sure Kubrick originally had a co-author credit, as he did on the screenplay).

Does it include the "Oh my god! It's full of stars!" line?? I had convinced myself that was in the film, and was rather shocked to discover (on seeing it for the second time, 25 years later) that it wasn't (although it is "quoted" in the 2010 sequel). I assume I must have got that idea from the novel, which I read as a teenager at school in the '70s, and loved.

It's a rather odd, perhaps unique origin for a book: a film novelization by the original author. Though it of course lacks the awe-inspiring visual images of the film, I remember it as being more exciting and much more readily comprehensible.

Cheryl said...

Yes, it does have the line you mentioned.

The visuals in the movie are lovely, especially paired with the classical music. But I agree that the book is more exciting and accessible.

I just picked up the sequel (book, not movie), and I'm eager to see how it compares.

angelle said...

i loved this book as a kid. i read all the sequels too. to be honest, i don't really remember them that well anymore, but i remember i did really like them!