Random thought: Why isn't there much in the way of great sci-fi coming out from American writers these days?Clarke, Arthur C. 2001: A Space Odyssey. 1968. New York: Roc, 1993.Summary
: Monoliths conceived by an alien race have been driving human evolution, and now that humanity has discovered a monolith on the moon, they are ready to take the next step. David Bowman, after the depredations of the insane computer HAL, is the last survivor on a mission to Saturn, and he discovers another monolith on one of that planet's moons--which whisks him away to a double star where he is remade into a creature more than human.Comments
: A story immortalized by the Kubrick film, but the original novel is at once more accessible and more entertaining a journey narrative. I'm not sure if the American edition normalizes the spelling and punctuation, but Clarke is very good at downplaying his Britishness. Besides a few of the character names, such as Poole, it might as well be written by an American writer--it's told from an American perspective. Ironic that, given the way things are going now, by the time, if ever, that we achieve intersteller travel, NASA will undoubtedly be ancient history. I was delighted to note while reading it how well it has aged; the technology, while, as is usual for sci-fi novels, doesn't match today's reality quite yet, reads in a totally frank, believable fashion. The science buff in me was delighted. (About the only thing worth updating would be interactive computer screens for the ubiquitous TVs.) Too bad that the premise is correspondingly less believable and outright weird. Variations of this sort of the Alien Astronauts Theory of Evolution, when advanced seriously, leave me wondering what illegal substance the theorist was ingesting. Not to mention that the whole man-ape struggle for survival struck me as distinctly patriarchal. Still, Clarke's creation HAL is not to be missed--it's a classic meditation on the implications of AI. Notes
: trade paperback, 10th printingRating
- Lots of fun to read in spite of some serious believability issues.