Memphis Reads – 2001 A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

Staff Book Reviews

Each month library staff members learn about different genres during “What’s Your Flavor,” a series of Reader’s Advisory classes. After each session participants must select a book from that genre to read and profile.

Science Fiction Genre Spotlight

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY by Arthur C. Clarke

“Open the pod doors, HAL.”

Arthur C. Clarke is one of the masters of scientific science fiction, and 2001 is a masterpiece of early science fiction. Clarke collaborated with the filmmaker, Stanley Kubrick, and the product was obviously a film and a book, both released in 1968. The movie is landmark because computer graphics were introduced on screen. Without 2001 there would never have been a Star Wars. The book is landmark because it explores A.I. (artificial intelligence) in the “character” HAL, the computer on board the space craft. As a joke, HAL is one letter off of IBM.

The basic plot is as follows: apes who will evolve into man are dying out. A monolith appears and teaches the apes how to kill so that they will survive. Move forward to the present where a monolith discovered on the moon proves to be millions of years old. The said monolith sends a signal to Saturn, and the “odyssey” of the space ship Discovery One begins with the journey to Saturn where astronaut David Bowman is transported through a monolith (an interstellar gateway) to an alien world where he is transformed into the “star child,” a “savior” or an overseer of earth. The aliens, whoever they are, are “god-like” and are again “saving” the human race.

Susan B., Library staff