2061: Odyssey Three: Blandly going where he has gone twice before

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The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman fantasy book reviews2061: Odyssey Three by Arthur C. Clarke

This is not a great book. It’s really more of an extended novella or perhaps part one of Arthur C. Clarke‘s SPACE ODYSSEY finale, 3001. This story has none of the depth, nuance or scale of Clarke’s classic original, 2001 nor its solid follow up 2010.

Beware of spoilers for the previous novels below. I’m assuming anyone who reads this review will likely have read the two preceding novels, or at least seen their movie companions.

In 2061, Clarke creates a pair of focal points 60 years after modern man first comes across The Monolith buried deeply beneath the surface of the moon. One story thread follows Dr. Heywood Floyd, a centenarian whose medical condition forces him to live full time off-Earth. He’s been asked to join a scientific mission to land on Halley’s Comet that’s making its regularly scheduled swing near Earth. In parallel, Clarke explores the growth and evolution of the former Jovian moon, and nascent planet, Europa. Surrounding these dual tales is a weak mystery with weaker intrigue that ultimately brings the two threads together.

Clarke is at his best when speculating on a future culture significantly affected by the events in the first two books of the series. Equally as strong is Clarke’s evolutionary ruminations on the biological progression of life on Europa — formerly an ice-hardened snowball orbiting Jupiter, but instantly transformed when a billion billion monoliths exploded within Jupiter and transformed it into Lucifer, an intra-solar system star (at the conclusion of 2010).

2061 isn’t a bad book, it’s just bland. I’ve enjoyed the narrative development that began in the wonderfully broad and subtle 2001, and continued in 2010, which smartly built on the myth of The Monolith and its creators. 2061 provides a glimpse at the intervening years and sets expectations of, and builds anticipation for, the finale. As a stand-alone, however, there’s just not much there.

Published in 1987. Arthur C. Clark, creator of one of the world’s best-loved science fiction tales, revisits the most famous future ever imagined in this NEW YORK TIMES bestseller, as two expeditions into space become inextricably tangled. Heywood Floyd, survivor of two previous encounters with the mysterious monloiths, must again confront Dave Bowman, HAL, and an alien race that has decided that Mankind is to play a part in the evolution of the galaxy whether it wishes to or not.

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JASON GOLOMB, who joined us in September 2015, graduated with a degree in Communications from Boston University in 1992, and an M.B.A. from Marymount University in 2005. His passion for ice hockey led to jobs in minor league hockey in Baltimore and Fort Worth, before he returned to his home in the D.C. metro area where he worked for America Online. His next step was National Geographic, which led to an obsession with all things Inca, Aztec and Ancient Rome. But his first loves remain SciFi and Horror, balanced with a healthy dose of Historical Fiction.

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5 comments

  1. I never read this one, although I did read the second one. There is enough interesting stuff by Clarke out there that I don’t think I’ll miss this outing.

  2. I wasn’t impressed by this one or the fourth book–too much rehashing of whole paragraphs from the previous books, not enough new and interesting ideas.

    • Definitely. Clearly he felt he needed to conclude something or, perhaps, was compelled by the publisher. It just missed the mark, which is rough when the work spawned from such iconic beginnings.

      • Not to mention the influence Stanley Kubrick had on the first book, since they were working on the book and film concurrently.

  3. Definitely not a great Clarke bookGreat review title that says it all. I got this for Christmas as a teenager and can't remember a single thing other than being disappointed. I would stick to the first two books.

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