Monday, May 28, 2012

Bookworming: 2001 A Space Odyssey

2001 A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke, *
2001 is an adaptation of the famous screenplay by the same name. While being fleshed out as a novel allows more detail to be added to the story, especially the beginning and end, it suffers from the same problems the movie does. It is boring. Attempts to increase the tension by foreshadowing fall flat. The most interesting character, the HAL 9000 AI, gets essentially the same treatment the alien monolith does: it's an unknowable alien thing, but the implications and parallels between the alien artifact and the human one are not explored. That said, the book also shares the strengths of the movie: a hard science fiction look at space travel using nearly real-world technology, a sense of awe over the vastness of creation, and the potential to stimulate thoughts along a host of rather deep philosophical subjects.

So yeah, not one of my favorites from Clarke. It does have one of the more interesting coincidences in sci-fi. If you advance each of the letters in the acronym for the HAL computers one step, you get IBM. The book states that HAL is short for "Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer." Clark himself is reported to have stated in his book The Lost Worlds of 2001 that he and Kubrick would have changed the name had they noticed the parallel.

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