“2061 odyssey three” by arthur c. clarke
THIS REVIEW WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS (nope, thats not HAL talking)
here’s what the blurb says:
… in “2061: odyssey three”, arthur c. clarke revisits the most famous future ever imagined, as two expiditions into space are extricably tangled by human necessity and the immutable laws of physics. and heywood floyd, survivor of two previous encounters with the mysterious monoliths, must once again confront dave bowman – or whatever bowman has become – a newly independant HAL, and the power of an alien race that has decided mankind is to play a part in the evolution of the galaxy whether it wishes to or not.
well, for a start, that entire blurb is bollocks. floyd only meets HAL and bowman in the last six pages of the book. the last six pages! and then, floyd isn’t even the main character – the focus is split between two entire crews and so floyd is but a member of an ensemble cast.
as such this isn’t quite what one expects from the book when one picks it up. from that starting point it is very hard for the book not to dissapoint, especially if one considers that the main reason one chooses to read it is to experience the continuation of the 2001 saga – with almost no HAL, bowman or monoliths, this is not as much a continuation of the saga as a sideways step or a footnote, or a novel written “within the 2001 universe”. not quite the psychadelic journey that the cover promised…
so what does happen in this book? well a bunch of guys decide to rendezvous with halley’s comet, while another bunch of guys have their space ship hijacked and find themselves landing on the jupiter’s moon, europa – the one place they are forbidden from landing on by the creators of the monolith (this happens at the end of “2010”). there is something valuable on europa, but it seems supremely moronic that anyone would risk the ire of the creators of the monolith – no matter what europa holds!
what makes it even worse is that nothing happens to these blokes who land on europa – there are no repercussions! this warning about landing on europa was so dramatic in “2010” and then nothing happens! pah! so it wasn’t that great a read.
clarke’s narrative is as smooth as always and i probably wouldn’t have finished if it wasn’t so readable, but i wasn’t in the least interested in this bollocks expedition to halley’s comet and that nonsense landing on europa. if the monolith blokes had decimated the tresspassers that would’ve been something at least, but like i said, nothing happened.
so, if you couple what doesn’t happen in the novel (no HAL, no bowman, no monolith blokes) with what does happen (boring trip to halley’s comet and nonsense landing), then what you’re left with is a pretty forgettable read. i wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone, except for hardcore arthur c. clarke or “2001” fans (and, of course, halley’s comet enthusiasts).