Friday, May 19, 2017

Book Review: '2001: A Space Odyssey' by Arthur C Clarke

Catching up with my sci-fi with a classic!

Written in tandem with the screenplay of the Stanley Kubrick movie, even so, there are still slight differences between the two of them, as detailed in the forward by Arthur C Clarke, as some sections were rewritten to fit in more closely with the film, but as the film production eventually overtook the writing of the novel, and was released a couple of months before the publication of the novel, the differences are more apparent but not that glaring, but if anything, makes the book a bit more coherent than the film in my opinion.

The book follows the evolution of mankind to stars with a helping hand from a mysterious alien intelligence. As in the film, we start at the 'Dawn of Mankind' and the man-apes and their reactions to the appearance of a monolith, crystal clear and not black like in the movie. We then flash-forward to 2001 and follow Dr Heywood Floyd as he travels to the moon base after another monolith is discovered. The next section features Dave Bowman, Frank Poole and a certain AI computer aboard the Discovery on their way to Saturn (not Jupiter, another change from the film).

Despite the eventual homicidal tendencies of the HAL 9000 computer, the overall tone of the book comes across as optimistic towards humanity and the cosmic possibilities of the future. Even though it was written in 1968, it doesn't feel dated at all, and the science and technology in the book still holds up really well and feels as though it could easily have been written today.

I listened to the audiobook with narration by Dick Hill, and really liked his narration style, bringing the characters to life, making them sound real world and even with all the science and cosmic mysticism (especially towards the end), he kept the story interesting throughout.

Overall a good and interesting read and well worth reading, especially if you've seen the film.