2001: A Space Odyssey

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Original title: 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Title of this edition: 2001 una odisea espacial.

Author: Arthur C. Clarke.

Gender: Fantasy / Science Fiction.

Saga: Space Odyssey.

Editorial: Ediciones Orbis S.A.

Edition year: 3, 1986.

Prizes: …

Synopsis [Warning: Spoiler]: A very old extraterrestrial race has evolved into a energy-based life-form. On his travel through evolution, they leave exploratory spaceships (monolith shaped). The purpose of those ships is to explore the universe and look for developing species… and help them.

One of those ships was on earth 2 million years ago and help the ancestors of men to start using tools. A second monolith lays beneath the surface of the moon, waiting to see if that race will develop to conquer the space.

When human race discovers the monolith on the moon, it sends a beacon to a third monolith in Iapetus, one of Saturn moons.

Discovery mission consists on a spaceship that will take several months to reach Saturn, 2 technicians that will take care of the instruments, 3 scientist in suspended animation… and a IA called Hall.

The IA is the only one that knows the objective of the mission and its orders are to hide it from the humans… which is against its basic program and makes it become homicide killing everybody in the ship except David Bowman.

After disconnecting Hall and travelling completely alone for many months, Bowman reaches Saturn and then he is transported through a wormhole to a unknown place. In that place Bowman transcends the limit of the human race and becomes something else. He has now many powers that allow him flying back to earth… just in time to stop the nuclear war.

Personal Review:  Dam! I really like this book! I mean, I couldn’t stop reading it… at least the part of the moon, and the Discovery while Hall was alive. I have to say that there is a reason for that, and it is that I watch the films long ago, and the first film is focused in Hall while the second film is centred in Heywood Floyd characterised by the actor Roy Scheider (I really like Scheider as an actor… do you remember Jaws? or SeaQest? and speaking of sea Quest, do you remember my reviews about the SeaQuest series? seaQuest DSV The Ancient seaQuest DSV Fire Below). Heywood Floyd is the guy on the moon visiting the second monolith.

I also have to say that the first few chapters, about humans before being humans, are quite fascinating. I enjoy the story told there. The way it is told, and what kinds of problems that animals have to overcome, seems quite real. It’s a struggle to survive and every night could be the last. It is quite interesting the though that the usage of tools was what allowed humans not to care so much for food, and that allowed them to use their time in other things… and THAT was the key difference between humans and the rest of species. I wonder now if our pets continue to live with us for a million years… could they become intelligent? Nah, although there is some kind of evolution (the more cute the more chances to get a home and pass their genes to the next generation), there is no freedom for our pets to create rudimentary societies.

Coming back to the book, I have to say that despite it was written in 1968, the description of how a computer can control a ship is quite incredible. But still, the description of the IA is not satisfactory for me, because it is quite rigid. The book says that it is unknown by programmers how the IA works, but at the same time they know it is constrained to tell the truth. I find this contradictory. Or at least, will you trust your life to that computer? Despite of that, that part of the book is quite rich in details and you like it because is possible for you to imagine how life will be on the ship. Here the film diverges from the book. In the film there is that famous scene where the astronauts speak and Hall reads their lips… It doesn’t happen in the book.

The part I like the less is the end. It will be better if Bowman’s fate was unknown, or at least, not becoming so powerful. The beginning tries to be realistic, the part of the moon and the voyage of the Discovery also. In fact, it is so realistic that you like it because of that. But the end is artificial, like the author has a desire to close the story, to create an end for it.

Overall, it was great and now I’m willing to read the other books.

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