2001: A Space Odyssey (Space Odyssey Series #1)

2001: A Space Odyssey (Space Odyssey Series #1)

by Arthur C. Clarke

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2001: A Space Odyssey (Space Odyssey Series #1) by Arthur C. Clarke

The classic science fiction novel that captures and expands on the vision of Stanley Kubrick’s immortal film—and changed the way we look at the stars and ourselves.

From the savannas of Africa at the dawn of mankind to the rings of Saturn as man ventures to the outer rim of our solar system, 2001: A Space Odyssey is a journey unlike any other.

This allegory about humanity’s exploration of the universe—and the universe’s reaction to humanity—is a hallmark achievement in storytelling that follows the crew of the spacecraft Discovery as they embark on a mission to Saturn. Their vessel is controlled by HAL 9000, an artificially intelligent supercomputer capable of the highest level of cognitive functioning that rivals—and perhaps threatens—the human mind.

Grappling with space exploration, the perils of technology, and the limits of human power, 2001: A Space Odyssey continues to be an enduring classic of cinematic scope.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451457998
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/28/2000
Series: Space Odyssey Series , #1
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 38,693
Product dimensions: 6.76(w) x 4.12(h) x 0.86(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Sir Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008) wrote a hundred books and more than a thousand short stories and essays covering science fiction and science fact in a career spanning more than six decades. Among his bestselling novels are Childhood’s End, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Rendezvous with Rama.
In 1945, he proposed global broadcasting via communication satellites in geostationary orbit. One of his short stories inspired the World Wide Web, while another was expanded into 2001: A Space Odyssey, which he cowrote with Stanley Kubrick.
Born in Somerset, England, Clarke was educated at King’s College, London. He worked in the British civil service and the Royal Air Force before turning full-time author in 1950. The recipient of dozens of awards, fellowships, and honorary doctorates, Clarke had both an asteroid and dinosaur species named after him. Queen Elizabeth II gave him a knighthood in 1998.
Clarke lived in Sri Lanka since 1956, engaged in diving, astronomical observations, and underwater tourism.

Date of Birth:

December 16, 1917

Date of Death:

March 19, 2008

Place of Birth:

Minehead, Somerset, England

Place of Death:

Sri Lanka


1948, King's College, London, first-class honors in Physics and Mathematics

Table of Contents

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2001 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 100 reviews.
catburglar More than 1 year ago
An outstanding story; well-written. An alien civilization is portrayed as being so advanced beyond human beings as to be almost completely incomprehensible. The science and technology is very accurate and credible. Predictions are implied in the mid sixties of the technology of the twenty first century. This story became a landmark and set the standard for many science fiction stories to follow.
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Jonathan_Stewart More than 1 year ago
2001: A Space Odyssey is a true gem of a science fiction classic. Known. Proven. Timeless. Et Cetra. One of the first sci fi books I ever read, and still one of the best. Truly well done, as the story unfold so that the characters are having the all-encompassing HUMAN experience. His relatively accurate foresight for humanity is quite astounding. I loved each of his story innovations, from the alien monolith device to HAL to traveling through space and time. Beautifully written. Clarke’s descriptions of the moons and planets and his use of metaphor in doing so was a joy to read and imagine. And, suffice to say, each one of the characters in the novel, Francis Poole, Dave Bowman, and HAL are some of the most famous sci-fi characters of all time!
chadchemist More than 1 year ago
For readers familiar to Arthur Clarke, no introduction is necessary. He was one of the foremost science fiction authors of the 20th century. Though he's published many highly rated books, 2001: A Space Odyssey is a excellent point of introduction to both Clarke and science fiction in general. My own experience with Clarke started with 2001: A Space Odyssey, so it holds a special place in my heart. I first read the book - and each of the several editions with varying endings - in High School. What I have loved most about Clarke since that very first read is his ability to explain scientific concepts relevant to the storyline of the book, and build stories that are both interesting and physically possible... One warning however, in keeping with Clarke's famous statement "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic", his endings (including the ending in 2001) tend to contrast from his physical-law-constrained narrative by presenting a psuedo-mystical experience of the central character. As a teenager I was rather confused by this type of ending. Now I see it as almost unavoidable, since any alien species capable of crossing the interstellar divide would be 1000's of years more advanced in technology. The experience would be similar if a tribe from Papua New Guinea with no contact to the outside world saw a missionary use a satellite phone to download weather forecasts from the internet... utterly unthinkable, yet plausibly based in reality. I recently purchased this book for my niece who is interested in science... I expect her experience to parallel mine. Let's hope :-)
JoseArcadio on LibraryThing 2 days ago
Arthur C. Clarke provides an entertaining and philosophical look into the origin of human intelligence and its next step in evolution. Beginning the novel in 3 million BC and then jumping to the near future Clarke's science fiction reflection of the human psyche is certainly worth reading. Clarke wrote the novel in conjunction with the Stanley Kubrick movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. Together, these works provide a very interesting look into the early conflicts of primate development and the later conflict between man and his own intelligent creation, the powerful HAL 9000 computer.
ewyatt on LibraryThing 2 days ago
This book was selected by members of the 7th grade Lunch Bunch Book Club. I was pleasantly surprised. The book begins in prehistorical times when a "rock" appears that seems to be studying early humans. There is a nice symmetry between this early scene and the end of the book. In 2001, another monolith is discovered buried on the moon. This sets off the mission to find the origins of the monolith. The book gave our group lots to discuss. Now I want to see the movie!
andyray on LibraryThing 2 days ago
The book explains what the movie did not. The movie was an excellent exercise in visual ambiguities, but the printed novel tells us what happened those last 10 minutes or so. Also, it seems the movie spent an inordinate time on the dereliction of HAL and his eventual shutoff.Clarke's excellent writing gave him the five stars. I don't suppose Kubrick had anything to do with the book except to lend his name as he was entitled to by contract. The ideology, phrasing, and substance of the story is all Clarke. This is why I immediately began 2010: Odyssey Two and shoved Clive Barker aside for now.
1morechapter on LibraryThing 2 days ago
Have you ever seen the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey and wondered what the heck was going on? The book by Arthur C. Clarke explains everything. I¿m so relieved! I feel so enlightened that I now know what¿s happening in the movie. I had to watch it immediately online through Netflix after finishing the book. I love the book, and I love the movie even more now. If you think I¿m going to give away the book¿s secrets, you¿re mistaken. You¿ll have to read it and see for yourself. I will say that it has a bit in common with one of my former favorite tv shows, Stargate SG-1. That was surprising, and the only hint I¿ll give.1968, 236 pp.Rating: 4.5
bardsfingertips on LibraryThing 2 days ago
This book was Tom Clancy in space; but much more secular. It was a lot of fun to read and I would suggest it to anyone...especially to those that need an explination for the celluloid enigma. (After all, the book came second.)
fiddlersgreen on LibraryThing 9 days ago
I absolutely LOVE the space odyssey books. S'all I have to say.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This clarified the movie for me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A completely different experience from the film. Whether or not it's lesser will depend on what you want from the basic story. I equally loved both.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read 2001 dozens of times and always find something new with each reading!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
GrahamCDowns More than 1 year ago
When I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey (the movie), about ten years ago, I found it dull, boring, and deeply depressing. I also didn't understand what was going on. I decided a couple months ago to give the book a try. It's much better! The story is split into four parts (technically six, but I disagree with Clarke's seperation, and I only perceived four): In the first part of the book, there is what I thought of as somewhat of an extended prologue. We meet Moon Watcher, a member of a prehistoric tribe of Men as he uses his primitive brain to help himself, his family, and his tribe survive. The second part starts three million years after the first part ends off, and is about a mission to the Moon to investigate a strange phenomenon that has been discovered there. This second part ends abruptly, when the reader is vaulted into the scene of a space ship destined for Saturn. The second and third parts do tie together, but I won't give away how. Throughout these first three parts, I was torn between giving the book four stars, or five. The fourth part was what finally decided me on three. It's about the last 10% or so of the book, and it's definitely not the ending I had in mind! It's deeply psychological, philosophical, and just plain weird. I considered it a real anticlimax to a great story! Still, it's an epic, interesting, and engaging tale, and I certainly think that any fan of Science Fiction should read this book at least once!
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JGolomb More than 1 year ago
"The thing's hollow--it goes on forever--and--oh my God!--it's full of stars!" - Astronaut David Bowman's final message to Earth. Arthur C. Clarke's "2001: A Space Odyssey" is an epoch-spanning imagining of humankind's first contact with alien life. Most people know the core story from Stanley Kubrick’s film of the same title. What's less known is that the book and screenplay were produced in parallel; Clarke and Kubrick working closely together on both. This edition of the book includes a foreword by Clarke, which provides insights into the story's production. He describes an early conversation with the great director, where Kubrick tells him, "What I want is a theme of mythic grandeur." Clarke certainly delivered. The story revolves around a monolithic stone-like entity that simply appears on earth 3 million years before modern times. The obelisk explores the mental and physical "skills" of individual man-apes, identifying which have the capacity to carry forth their subtly enhanced genetics. And while the movie is known for it's groundbreaking cinematography and special effects, in equal parts with its story-telling vagaries, Clarke's exposition-strong style draws a clear picture of how this alien-borne object was built to experiment, prod and alter the life forms it finds. Not wholly through the serendipity of natural selection, but through delicate alien modifications, do these man-apes take the first tentative steps down their evolutionary paths. The alien interference is subtle; it provides sort of an evolutionary jump-start and then disappears as suddenly as it appeared. Clarke writes, "…the man-apes had been given their first chance. There would be no second one; the future was, very literally, in their own hands." One of the first gifts of enlightenment explored by the man-apes is the use of tools, and the actualization that they can be used to defend…and kill. A clear theme throughout, Clarke writes on the impact of the human propensity towards violence. Using the monolith's suggestion for the man-ape's adoption of tools as the starting point, Clarke writes that the physical and mental abilities to lay waste to nature and man, up close and at a distance, has defined human evolution -- from the first Promethean spark of consciousness through his fictional 2001 and beyond. The novel jumps to the late 20th century. Man has uncovered a monolith buried deep below the surface of the moon. Once the 3 million year old object absorbs the first rays of the sun, a burst of energy explodes towards space. After millions of years of solitude, humankind inadvertently pulls the trigger on its next major evolutionary leap. The burst of energy blows through the solar system targeted at a small moon orbiting Saturn. Contextually, this story was written during the dawn of the space age. Russian satellites had orbited the earth and Kennedy had rallied America behind its own goals to put a man on the moon. Science and technology were at the forefront of culture. Consideration of the possibility of alien life was a natural outcome of this collective thought. Clarke explores one of the most common themes in science fiction, that of 'First Contact': "The political and social implications were immense; every person of real intelligence--everyone who looked an inch beyond his nose--would find his life, his values, his philosophy, subtly changed. Even if nothing whatsoever was discovered about (the monolith), and it remained an eternal mystery, Man would know that he was not unique in the universe. All futures must now contain this possibility." The final third of the story follows astronaut David Bowman aboard a spaceship powering towards the destination of the moon-monolith's energy burst. The memorable HAL-9000 accompanies Bowman on his journey and despite the supercomputer-character's renown, fills only a relatively brief portion of the book. HAL represents a step on the continuum of humankind's evolutionary ascent. It represents the convergence of man and machine. As man developed machines to enhance his existence, he took a step further by transferring human consciousness to machine, which, to dire results, includes all of man's neuroses and psychoses. I thoroughly enjoyed the slow build to human-like sentience of HAL. Following its very purposeful deceptions and murder, HAL says to Bowman rather innocently, "is your confidence in me fully restored? You know that I have the greatest possible enthusiasm for this mission." Clarke's novel evokes the very familiar pacing and mood of Kubrick's film. The details are rich, the exposition extensive and all encompassing. The book finishes with a much more satisfying conclusion than the movie. Clarke actually provides an explanation for the sequences of Bowman's final interactions with the alien intelligence, and his own fate. His conclusion satisfies years of frustrated confusion with Kubrick's final scenes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book explores many interesting ideas about technology and the interaction between humans. The question whether machines are self-aware is also expounded upon. It was a great read although the end was quite complex. A great sci-fi book. Monoliths!!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maybe my review of this book is a little immature, I am only about 60 pages in, but sometimes you can just tell by the first pages of a book that it will be amazing...anyways, sorry if it is to early but here we go.... IT'S AWESOME!!! th first part of the book are the apes in a constant struggle of survival, they are not equiped to survive the harsh land that they live in, they are constantly hungry and hunted leopards...then one day when they are scrounging around they see a thing...since they are not intelligent they pass it off as another rock, that night they are transformed intellectually. there brains are growing and solving more problems, they start using tools and the first stages of evolution have begun. I don't want to give away what the thing was but you all probably know...then we get to the part in the future when humans are developed and stuff. it gets better as the pages fly by...5 stars!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago