2001: A Space Odyssey

[dropcap]2[/dropcap]001: A Space Odyssey, first book of the Space Odyssey series, was written by Arthur C. Clarke and published in 1968 New American Library.

This book has an interesting publishing story. At first Clarke has planned to write screenplay for the movie, but then changed his mind and started writing a draft for his novel. After the draft, Stanley Kubrick started on filming and Clarke has continued to finish his novel. Due to starting filming before finishing the novel, there were some differences between the novel and the movie.

I guess most people try the movie (2001: A Space Odyssey) before reading the novel.

2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey

This novel is based on Clarke’s previous short stories. The first one is “The Sentinel”, which was published in 1948 and which was the main point of the book. Second important short story is “Encounter at Dawn”.

The other stories are;

  • Breaking Strain
  • Out of the Cradle, Endlessly Orbiting…
  • Who’s There?
  • Into the Comet
  • Before Eden
  • Rescue Party

The story takes place in three different time and places. It starts in Africa about 3 million years B.C., then leaps ahead a few million years to 1999 in the Moon, and finally leaps forward 18 months to 2001 in the Japetus which is one of the moons of Saturn.


In first part is used as a background story which take place in Africa about 3 million years B.C. In this story an alien race has send a monolith to Africa and encourage the development of human race.

In second part, the story takes place in the Moon at 1999. After Dr. Heywood Floyd’s travel to the Moon, they have found a large monolith just like the one in Africa. After sunlight falls upon the Monolith, it sends radio transmission to the far reaches of the solar system. After tracking this transmission it was found that, it was send to Japetus, one of the moons of Saturn.

In the third part, Dr. David Bowman and Dr. Francis Poole was sent to the Japetus to trace the signal. In this adventure spaceships computer HAL started to act strange. Poole has died, and Bowman has shut down all the systems to stop HAL.

After spending months in the ship, Bowman has landed to the Japetus and has find monolith which is much bigger than that was found in the Moon. When Bowman went to the Monolith, he vanished in the Monolith which was actually a star gate.

Bowman was transported to a hotel like place and in this place he has been ascended to a new immortal entity, a Star Child which can live and travel in space.

In the final part, Bowman the Star Child has returned to the Earth as the Master of the World. He was uncertain what to do next, but will think of something.


This novel is a plot and setting driven story, and in each story we have different set of characters. Characterization is not the main concern of the story, due to this Clarke does not work too much on characters.

Point of View and Theme

In each sub story we met new characters and learn the story from their point of views.

There are many themes in the novel which are technology, nuclear war, evolution and space exploration. The monoliths which is the main theme in the story is used as Von Neumann probe.

Personal Reactions

Years ago, probably a decade ago, I’ve tried the watch the movie two times. Both times, I gave up at the end of the first part. As in the movie the story is slow paced, and tells the whole story in sub-stories. In order to finish the book, you must be patient. Once you reach to the Moon story, it becomes more interesting. By the way, actually I’ve not read this book I’ve listened it and listening this audio book is really easy and probably help me to finish it on time.

I try to rate plot, characterization, style, setting and entertainment separately and take the average of these for overall rating. The overall rating is 4.2 which translates, it is between “really liked it” and “it was amazing”.

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