One of the most coveted Sci-Fi novel of all times, this is the second book by Arthur C. Clarke that I read. Generally, a movie is made after a book enjoys the status of being a Best-Seller. This one was as exception! Stanley Kubrick wanted to make a Sci-Fi movie in 1960’s and which was when he wrote the screenplay with Arthur C. Clarke, author of the book. Movie was released in 1968 closely followed by the book. Both movie and the book are one of the most influential pieces of work in Sci-Fi world.
Book starts with a world of primitive man-apes with little/no intelligence who are struggling for their own survival. They are transformed and enlightened by a mysterious black monolith that teaches them how to use weapons. Slowly they evolve into the so-called sophisticated and intellectual human beings. Mankind progressed till they were capable of setting up Lunar Colonies but little did they know that someone from space far far away is watching them closely through these millions of years.
In 2001, people on Moon find a monolith which they know is nothing close to a man-made thing. And it transmits some radio signal to Saturn. It gives birth to the most adventurous and daring space trip made by human race to Saturn and one of its Moons. Space ship Discovery, starts its journey with 2 ‘normal’ humans, one Super Robot called HAL and 3 humans in hibernation onboard to find the mysterious extra terrestial life.
They go as far as Jupiter without any hiccups but there is an interesting twist when the HAL computer becomes more ambitious and kills one of the engineers Frank Poole. Before David Bowman can take control from HAL, the hibernated humans are also killed. Discovery finally succeeds in establishing itself into the orbit of one of the Saturn’s Moons and Bowman, the lone survivor of the mission observes a similar monolith (like found on Moon) and he sets off to investigate in a space-pod.
This section of the book laid the foundation of the sequels. Bowman is drawn into the monolith where he witnesses things which no human had ever thought about. He travels across wide distances at unimaginable speed, looking at cosmological fantasies and non-earthly landscapes. In the end, the monolith transforms him into a fetus and a Star-Child is born which symbolizes humans as a tiny tiny part of the vast universe. It travels back to earth and floats around it, which I consider as overdose of fiction :).
Book remains gripping all throughout and had just enough pages. The space ship journey is interesting and captivating. Except for the ending, it was a digestible fiction for me.
I look forward to reading the sequels as well. It’s interesting to note that Clarke imagined all of it to happen in 2001 and its doesn’t seem to be attaining reality in another decade!