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Book Reviews 2010 odyssey two

Published on May 22nd, 2013 | by Michaela Buckley


2010: Odyssey Two – Arthur C. Clarke

What is the point in making a sequel to a film largely regarded as one of the best ever made?
Why would you make a novel as a sequel to a film you’ve already written a novel of?

2001: A Space Odyssey was the labour born from Kubrick’s question to Arthur C. Clarke in 1964 concerning his ideas for the proverbial good science fiction film. Something that we’re consistently reminded of every time I read any thing from Clarke.

Kubrick and Clarke’s answer was 2001, based on The Sentinel, a short story that Clarke had written and published a few years earlier. They decided to create their projects concurrently, Clarke would write a novel and Kubrick, a film, swapping ideas as they went. As it turns out the novel was released after the film in 1968 and is not nearly so famous, however each are perfectly suited to their respective mediums and equally enjoyable.

Enter 2010: Odyssey Two, Arthur C. Clarke was asked to write a sequel to 2001, “for posterity”. Surely the best thing “for posterity” would be to leave it alone?
Anyway, instead of writing a sequel to the novel 2001, Clarke instead wrote a sequel to the film.
How bizarre, it really just makes it look like some kind of cash-in.

2010 was published in 1982, some 14 years after the first book and is set 9 years later.
The book follows the events succeeding Discovery’s mission to Jupiter in order to investigate the monolith. The original novel’s monolith is located near Saturn, however this book’s one is near Jupiter like in the film. This was because the film’s effects supervisor, Douglas Trumball was unable to make the ice rings around Saturn convincing enough.
One of the main reasons for the book being a sequel to the film, is probably because aspects of the film’s plot make the events easier to write, such as Jupiter’s moons being more suitable for life.

Dr. Heywood Floyd was one of the men that investigated the monolith on the moon and feels responsible for the ill fate of the Discovery, he lives with his wife and son in a comfortable house when he is asked to do one last mission on the ship Leonov, to investigate the Discovery and possibly return in to Earth space.
Floyd is in his mid 50’s and his wife begs him not to go, but obviously he does anyway, because it’s space.
He joins the primarily Russian crew along with Hal’s creator Dr Chandra and a loudmouthed American to go on the Leonov’s mission, he will be in cold sleep for the majority of the journey, however he is soon awoken when a Chinese Space station strapped on some thrusters and zoomed all the way past them towards the Discovery.

Starring Roy Scheider, a film was released two years later in 1984.

Starring Roy Scheider, a film was released two years later in 1984.

What can you expect to see in 2010?
As the crew is journeying to the Discovery, we can expect to see Hal again.
The book employs the same detailed flow as the first book, completely dissimilar to the film which opts for a enigmatic approach. It continues to divulge the facts surrounding Hal’s crazy antics from a decade ago with Dr. Chandra being on board to ensure that the crew is safe and hopefully fix the forsaken computer.

Dave Bowman was last seen as the Star-child after having been transported through the interplanetary hub of space by our mysterious alien benefactors, we do in fact see a return of Bowman in typical Clarke fashion, with “sufficiently advanced technology”.

Despite some attempts at honest characterisation, the personalities of most on board come across as a little wooden and forced, leading me to remember that unlike in films where an actor is bad at a role, he only affects his character, when an author screws up character development, it’s going to affect everyone. Dr Floyd continually mentions his relationship with the others around him, however his tone in conversation appears to contradict most of his own admissions, this might be because he retains a harsh relationship with others in order to exert superiority, but it’s most likely poor characterisation since he appears quite loving in nature.

There is a great difference in the way this book was tackled, the original was segmented whereas this is one long story with some tangents focusing on Bowman. The individual segments each represented small themes, like our approach to technology and government dealings, but also they represent part of a greater whole, examining the theme of human nature, origins and future and also the exploration of first contact with aliens. This book seems to retread many of the themes from before, but not nearly so tactfully and any new themes like the dreams of space exploration in comparison to homely ones are pretty derivative and uninspired to say the least.

Hal's return is a bit of an anti-climax.

Hal’s return is a bit of an anti-climax.

After painting a picture of a novel with little to say and varying entertainment value, it has to be said that this isn’t what I or anyone would equate for the final picture you get of this book.
At the end of the day, 2001 was a sci-fi masterpiece, both literally and cinematically.
Any sequel was bound to be held to unrealistic expectations. But this is a good book, just not the perfect book.

What Clarke does do impeccably, was pave the correct and ONLY route people should go when making sequels, which is to not try embarrassingly hard, in that many writers or filmmakers often recognise the expectations and attempt to surpass them. Bad idea. You obviously can’t help but notice the success and feel compelled to deliver, but don’t do get Star Wars syndrome and get caught up in yourself, cross referencing all your own material, jacking up everything to 11 and worst of all trying to make everything deep and way more important than it conceivably be.

2010 manages to feel as though Clarke is aware of the film’s success but pulled down the blinds on the wowing audience in order to focus on the project at hand, crafting another good Space exploration novel. And in that, he succeeded.

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