2001: A Space Odyssey

An Orion III, Pan Am's first Space Clipper, fe...

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The race into space spurred during the 60s, created a flurry of space related shows and movies like Lost in Space, My Favorite Martian, Star Trek, Planet of the Apes and of course the classic SCiFi classic of all time Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

I remember watching it at Toronto’s cinesphere at Ontarioplace in the early 70s.

Recently, I read the book.

Amazingly, it was written after the movie which I thought was a first. However, like all books it’s better than the movie.

It starts off three million years ago with our ancestors the man apes.

Man ape Sky Watcher wakes up one morning to discover that his father died during the night. Without any feelings he picks up his father’s lifeless body, takes it out of the cave and throws him over a cliff for the vultures to eat him. Early man had no concept of the family unit and this was something that we evolved into.

For these early ape men it was a constant struggle just to survive.

Forget about worrying about missing your bridge club meeting on Wednesday nights, finding food and running away from animals that want to eat you were your major concerns. Every night when Sky Watcher went to sleep he would hear the screams of him companions being eaten in their sleep.

But then something changed. A monolith appeared advancing the man apes. Now they invented clubs and they could kill their attackers and protect themselves.

Moving to the future, a monolith is found on the moon but its sending radio signals to Iapetus, which is a moon around Saturn.

Iapetus incidentally looks like the Death Star from Star Wars. So they send a ship called Discovery out to investigate but then something goes wrong with the onboard computer called Hal. The hero Bowman has to abort enters a sky pod and goes to Iapetus to investigate. He sees a black dot on the surface.

As he gets closer he notices that it’s another monolith as he descends it becomes bigger and bigger. He realizes that it’s a star gate and he’s transferred to another part of the galaxy.

In the movie as he’s going through the star gate it seemed as though he was an acid trip. You’ve got to remember that the movie was made in the psychedelic era. Maybe it was done on purpose to sell more tickets to hippies.

At the end of his voyage, he lands in a hotel room where he goes to sleep for the very last time and evolves and emerges as a star child. His metamorphism represents the next evolution in mankind.

Even though Arthur C. Clarke wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey in the late 60s, it remains as one of the best Sci-Fi books of all time. It’s a quick read and hard to put down. If you liked or hated the movie, you will enjoy the book.

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About Mario Carr

Mario Carr has a Physics degree from McMaster University and hosts this blog. He is the director of public education for the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers and has helped to raise the profile of the group. He writes an astronomy column and appears on CHCH-TV to talk about the night sky. Mario is the founder of the Carr Marketing Group in Burlington, Ontario and can help with your marketing, communications, publicity and public relations needs. He can be reached at www.carrmarketinggroup.com or mariocarr@cogeco.ca.
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3 Responses to 2001: A Space Odyssey

  1. Joachim Boaz says:

    Yeah, it was a weird situation Arthur C. Clarke wrote BOTH the screenplay and the follow-up novel… And, he had previously written a short story which the movie was based on — The Sentinel. Not very many people consider the novel one of his best though — you’re in the minority. It pales in comparison (in my opinion) to Rendezvous with Rama, Childhood’s End, etc…

    • Mario Carr says:

      Thanks for the comment. I confess, I haven’t read his other works yet but I’m going to.

      • Joachim Boaz says:

        Cool — but really, 2001: A Space Odyssey is pretty dismal in comparison to his other works and isn’t really considered a classic of sci-fi in any sense of the word — although it is well-known but ONLY because of the film — but works like his Hugo award winning Fountains of Paradise…. Or, my personal favorite (I have a review on my blog) Earthlight…. Or, my second favorite, Imperial Earth.

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