Literature / The Space Odyssey Series
The Space Odyssey Series
is a series of novels written by Arthur C. Clarke
, which takes a philosophical look at many Speculative Fiction Tropes
, such as Precursors
, Intelligent Computers
, space travel and the humankind's place in the universe.The novels are in chronological order:
- 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968): A interesting case since the novel is actually the byproduct to a collaboration between Clarke and Stanley Kubrick, which resulted in the film of the same name that came out the same year, which makes the book the Novelization (Clarke himself said the book should have been credited to "Clarke and Kubrick", just like the movie was credited to "Kubrick and Clarke"). The book and the film are both based on some of Clarke's earlier short stories, most prominently The Sentinel, and they largely follows the same plot, but with some small differences.
A strange Monolith is discovered on the moon, apparently having been left there by a race of extra-terrestrial lifeforms. As it is being studied by human scientists, it sends some kind of transmission into outer space. About a year later a crew of five astronauts leaves for a scientific exploration travel to Saturn on the space-ship Discovery. Only two of them, David "Dave" Bowman and Francis "Frank" Poole, are left awake to help the sixth crew member, a supercomputer by the name of HAL 9000, with monitoring the ship's day-to-day function. This is just boring routine, until HAL starts acting weird and unpredictable, not only jeopardizing the mission, but also the life of the crew.
- 2010: Odyssey Two (1982): While not initially thought up by Clarke as a movie idea, the book was, in 1984, adapted, with his and Kubrick's blessing, into the film 2010: The Year We Make Contact.
Nine years after the Discovery's travel to Jupiter (changed from Saturn to match the film), a joint Soviet-American crew is heading for the mighty gas-planet to find out what happened to the Discovery and its crew. Meanwhile David Bowman, now reborn as a Energy Being, is helping the race that created the Monoliths with scouting Jupiter and its moons for primitive lifeforms, hopefully finding one that has potential to turn sentient.
- 2061: Odyssey Three (1987): Heywood Floyd, one of the main characters from the previous novels, has been invited as a celebrity guest for the spaceliner Universe's landing on Halley's Comet. Meanwhile a militant anti-Afrikaner takes control of the shuttle Galaxy, which she crashes into Jupiter's moon, Europa, leaving Universe as the crew of the Galaxy's only hope of rescue.
- 3001: The Final Odyssey (1997): The Discovery crew member, Frank Poole, having been killed by HAL 9000 and left adrift in space for a thousand years, is brought back to life through the wonders of future science, and begins to explore the earth of 3001. Meanwhile, the creators of the Monoliths are making their final speculation about whether or not to sacrifice human kind for the greater good.
This series of novels contain examples of:
- Just Friends: Poole's relationship and eventual marriage with Indra is a form of this. They even managed to stay friends after the split up romantically 15 years later.
- Kill All Humans: In 3001, it turns out the monoliths have decided that humanity is no longer worthy of existence, due to how we behaved during the 21st century, and blocks out the Sun (and Lucifer) in an effort to kill us all.
- Living Gasbag: 2010: The Year We Make Contact had the noncorporeal Bowman journeying down through the Jovian atmosphere, where he sees gigantic non-sentient living beings in various geometric shapes floating through the clouds and consuming similar smaller creatures. They are all killed when Jupiter is turned into a star.
- Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: By the year 3001, religion is abolished. That said, they aren't entirely disbelievers: they are generally either "Deists", believing in not more than one god, or "Theists", believing in not less than one god. What this God (or possibly gods) has to say about anything is eminently unclear, however.
- Precursors: The mysterious race only know as "The creators of the Monoliths". The prologue gave them the name "Firstborn", but was never used in-story.
- Rip Van Winkle: Frank Poole
- Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: 2061 mentions that Dr. Chandra died in hibernation on the trip back to Earth after 2010. It's implied that he died of grief over HAL having been destroyed by the explosion of Jupiter.
- Terraform: 2061 and 3001 depicts humankind as being capable of this.