0031 | 2001: A Space Odyssey – Arthur C. Clarke


At last, the film makes sense! I can’t tell you how happy I am. The film is a masterpiece but it would have been nothing without the book, which was written for it in place of the traditional screenplay.

I’ve seen the film no less than three times and it always leaves me baffled. The book I expected to be much the same. However, this audio version of the book revealed a clarity that had eluded me over the years.

Clarke is a very good writer. His book spans millenia of time and yet is coherent. The writing is lucid, eerie and gripping. Throughout the novel, lights kept going on in my memory of the film. I found out why monkeys were jumping around screaming at each other, why the action suddenly jumps eons of time, what the hell Bowman is doing in a bedroom and, very importantly, a justification for why HAL seems hell bent on… well, I’ll let those of you who haven’t seen/read/listened to it find out that for yourselves!

So, if you’ve seen the film and passed it off as a bit of bizarre sci-fi that isn’t your cup of tea, I’d heartily recommend the book. It’s a very different kettle of fish and one that I think even those of us who don’t greatly appreciate sci-fi will appreciate.

The drought had lasted now for ten million years and the reign of the terrible lizards had long since ended.


Please remember that this is only a work of fiction. The truth, as always, will be far stranger.

you could be terrified in space, but you could not be worried there

nacreous: Having a pearly sheen.

Unfortunately, we don’t have maps of the solar system available!
Van Gogh’s Bridge at Arles: this painting is hanging on the wall of Bowman’s bedroom. My wife did a copy of this many years ago at college so it’s a memorable one to me. I just didn’t know the name.

But he would think of something.

terrible > poor > mediocre > okay > good > very good > excellent > superb

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  1. I love your new geography and culture sections! That’ll be especially delightful when you review a book I’ve read.

    I saw this movie once — when I was sick and had a very high fever. You can imagine how confused that left me, and I’ve been a bit scared to read the book for that reason. I’ll put the book on my wishlist, though, and bravely give it a try, since you say it’s worth it.

  2. I just don’t know if I could get into this book. The movie bored me to pieces. My dad made me watch it and couldn’t understand why I didn’t like the film.

  3. I seen the movie a few times and you cant just watch with out thinking . just when I thought it is getting boring it takes you in a bizarre direction. If the book is anything like the movie and they are usually better it should be good .

  4. Found you through google – just watched “2001” for the zillionth time and this time with Tivo. I have to admit, I’m not able to see the painting you cited (the bridge). There are several classical paintings in the “apartment” but I would have no idea what they were – hopefully some of the art historians out there will recognize them and perhaps update the Wikipedia article about the film.

    Nonetheless, this is truly one of the great films of all time, IMHO. I never tire of watching it, nor do I ever fail to see something new in it each time I watch it.

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