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2010: Odyssey Two (Space Odyssey Series #2)

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  • Posted December 5, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    "2010 - Odyssey Two" is a strong sequel to Arthur C. C

    "2010 - Odyssey Two" is a strong sequel to Arthur C. Clarke's renowned "2001 - A Space Odyssey". The story is well-crafted and the plot moves briskly, which makes for an enjoyable read. It's not deep on character development, and the action is infrequent, but delivered smartly and purposefully to provide the fuel for an interesting plot, expansive exposition of space, and exploration of key themes. 

    Like the first novel, Clarke crafts his story and writing very deliberately to create a heavy and epic atmosphere. His primary theme revolves around evolution, and builds upon the mythology he created in  "2001" by expanding on the role played by the unseen aliens in planting and encouraging life throughout the universe, including Earth and elsewhere within our own solar system.

    He spends just enough time on backstory to refresh readers on the salient points from the first book, but more importantly, provides a legend (within one of two foreword's/author's notes in this specific edition) to where the author followed storylines from his original novel, or from the famous movie which contained slight modifications.

    And yes, Clarke provides satisfying answers to many of the questions left without conclusion in the first book and movie.

    Clarke returns Dr. Heywood Floyd in this space-traveling saga, but this time in the lead role. He and two other Americans join a Russian crew aboard a starship headed to Jupiter to connect with the presumably abandoned and derelict 'Discovery', obtain information about the Monolith and find out what happened to lost crewman Dave Bowman. 

    Dr. Floyd is a strong lead and the most three-dimensional of all characters in the story. His motivation for leaving his family on the very long journey: "Four men had died, and one had disappeared, out there among the moons of Jupiter. There was blood on his hands, and he did not know how to wash them clean."

    The trademark of great storytelling is the ability to convey ideas and themes through demonstration rather than outright telling. As a reader, I'd rather come to understand a characters' nature and motivations through the demonstration of certain behaviors and backstory, rather than be spoon-fed and literally told of one's characteristics. Clarke does a nice job of layering on the flesh of Dr. Floyd early in the story, and continuing to build as the plot progresses. None of the other characters on board the Russian craft are more than two dimensional, which increases the focus of the novel on Floyd, Star-Child/Post-Human Dave Bowman, and perhaps the story's central character: Jupiter and its moons.

    Among the Americans is Dr. Chandra, the parent/inventor of HAL9000, the 'Discovery's' near-sentient ship-computer that killed its original crew, which led Bowman to decommission its' cognizance. Chandra plays a key role as he works to restart HAL with the hope that he can help guide the ship back to earth, but also to shed light on why it developed the compu-psychoses that led to its' violent behavior. Chandra is drawn as the lovingly patient and near-obsessed parent focused on nurturing his lost child. The relationship between Chandra and HAL generate some terrific scenes throughout the book as HALs personality reemerges, including the first time it awakens from it's 9-year-long sleep: "Good morning, Dr. Chandra. This is Hal. I am ready for my first lesson." 

    Dr. Floyd notices and comments on Dr. Chandra's work: " watch the steady regrowth of Hal's personality, from brain-damaged child to puzzled adolescent and at length to slightly condescending adult." "(It's like) disturbed youngsters were straightened out by all-wise descendants of the legendary Sigmund Freud! Essentially the same story was being played out in the shadow of Jupiter." The Chandra-HAL relationship creates tension within the plot as the crew can never fully trust HAL following his behavior in "2001".

    "2001" concluded with the Monolith's aliens shedding Bowman of his human form and 'raising' him up to a being that needs no real form, but exists as pure energy. This evolved Bowman returns in "2010" and acts as Clarke's guide to Jupiter and it's moons. He uses Bowman's exploration as a means to delve into the physical nature of those celestial bodies and postulation on what life could exist in those extreme environments. The exposition is detailed and written with a poetic flourish.

    Bowman is the evolutionary result of the experiments performed on the pre human man-apes by the Monolith millions of years ago, and famously portrayed in the original movie. In "2010", he becomes aware of how the alien beings introduced life and evolution throughout the universe, and monitor their progression over millions of years. These aliens are, for all intents and purposes, God.  

    Clarke writes that the aliens, " all the galaxy, they had found nothing more precious than Mind, they encouraged its dawning everywhere. They became farmers in the fields of stars; they sowed, and sometimes they reaped." 

    More ominously, he continues, "And sometimes, dispassionately, they had to weed."

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2007

    An Answer to Many Unanswered Questions

    In the previous novel, 2001: A Space Odyssey, several events have occured that lead many people to not only enjoy the journey, but scratch their heads in puzzlement. What exactly happened to Commander Dave Bowman? What's up with Hal? The only way to know is to take the same journey as we once did before - through the deep void of Space against the well concealed mysteries of the universe. Buckle up.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2005

    worthy sequel, not as good as original

    The continuing saga of the monolith, Heywood Floyd, and the being that was once Dave Bowman is worthy of the original. Protagonist Floyd boards a Russian spaceship to Jupiter to find out what happened to the Discovery and its crew. HAL and Dave Bowman make return appearances, and the book ends with a bang. 2010 stands on its own, but is best appreciated by fans of 2001. Since 2001's movie and novel were slightly different, 2010 follows the story of the movie. (It's been a long time since I've seen it, but I remember the movie version of 2010 being pretty good too.)

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