Thursday, March 12, 2015

2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

(hb; 1968, 1999: first novel in the Space Odyssey quadrilogy)

From the inside flap:

"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."


2001: A Space Odyssey is a landmark novel -- not just as a science fiction work, but as a multimedia work, as it was born of a collaboration between auteur Stanley Kubrick (who lensed and co-scripted the cinematic version of 2001) and Clarke. While Clarke penned this Kubrick-prompted expansion on Clarke's tell-don't-show 1950 story "The Sentinel," Kubrick was pre-production crafting his film version: it is a shared, then-fact-extrapolated and cooperative vision between the two men (though there are differences between the two works).

With 2001 (book and film), Clarke and Kubrick successfully negotiated the tricky balance between science fiction, science fact and action, something a relative few accomplish, much less on an epic level -- and 2001 is an epic drama, not just in its cinematic story scale, but in its intent: Clarke's prose has a wry humored, warm humanity imbued within its fast-moving, bordering-on-poetic tale-telling, making this highly visual and mainstream work immersible not only for nerdy science majors but for average readers (like myself) who would usually shy away from "hard" (detailed, science-factual) science fiction.

This is one of my all-time favorite reads, one worth owning. It has three sequels, the first of which is 2010: Odyssey Two.


The resulting film was released stateside on April 8, 1968. Stanley Kubrick, who directed the film, co-scripted it with Arthur C. Clarke (as noted in the above review).

Keir Dullea played Dr. Dave Bowman. Gary Lockwood played Dr. Frank Poole. William Sylvester played Dr. Heywood R. Floyd. Leonard Rossiter played Dr. Andrei Smyslov. Robert Beatty played Dr. Ralph Halvorsen.

Douglas Rain voiced HAL 9000. Frank Miller voiced "Mission Control".  An uncredited Vivian Kubrick played "Squirt -- Floyd's Daughter". An uncredited Ivor Powell played V.F. Kaminsky. An uncredited Kevin Scott played Miller.

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