Having never seen the movie I had no idea what I was getting into when I picked up the book. Of course I’d heard of the movie and the theme song but that’s where my knowledge base ended. The book started out a little slow for me. It follows the life of the man-ape named Moon-Watcher. The reader learns of his lack of knowledge and vocabulary. Then one night a transparent rectangular slab falls from the sky and teaches him and his friends to use tools and to kill animals for food, thus ending starvation and changing their lives forever. The book shoots ahead a few million years and then follows Dr. Floyd, an astronomer on his way to the moon to investigate what has been labeled TMA-1. It was found during a typical survey of the moon when a peculiar magnetic field alerted the moon colonists to its presence. Again it was a transparent rectangular slab but this time it was buried under the surface of the moon set to alert its creators when the sun touched it. The final shift follows David Bowman and Frank Poole aboard the Discovery as they head out with their intelligent computer Hal to a mission that is secret even to the crew. When things begin to go wrong on the ship David must make quick decisions to save his life and the mission. After the tragic loss of the other members of his crew he is informed of the true mission, to investigate one of the moons of Saturn for signs of alien life. As strange as this mission may seem it is nothing compared to what happens when he actually reaches Saturn. He finds another transparent rectangular slab and through this is magically transported through space and goes through a type of grand central station leading him to a dying sun. He lands on the sun and is suddenly inside a hotel room where he eats mysterious food, takes a shower, and then goes to bed. While sleeping he is magically reversed through time and becomes a baby once more and as a baby travels through space and back to earth in time to prevent a nuclear attack. It was a bit hard for me to not only follow but to swallow the ending. Not having seen the movie I was a little weirded out by how the book ended and found clips of the movie to see if it was a weird as the book. The one major selling point of the book was that it moved much faster than all of the movie clips that I saw today. It was also quite interesting with the random facts and bits of science that Clarke inserted into the book. Overall, I thought it was a good read, even with the odd ending, and something that I think others into science fiction would enjoy.
2001 A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke November 8, 2008