Richard's Reviews > 2010: Odyssey Two

2010 by Arthur C. Clarke
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's review
Jan 20, 10

bookshelves: bookclub, scifi, scifi-hardscience, classic, scifi-alien-first-contact, series
Recommended to Richard by: HardSF Group
Recommended for: SciFi completists; HardSF fans.
Read from January 17 to 18, 2010, read count: 2

Back in 1982 when 2010: Odyssey Two was published I was in college, and my roommate was an obsessive reader of science fiction and fantasy. I probably read less than one-third of his throughput, but undoubtedly there are two hundred or so books that I don't recall, or that I remember only dimly when I am reminded of the titles or plot outlines.

Shortly after starting, I realized that this was one of them. Even though I had long since lost any grasp of the details, I knew could recall major events before I saw them again on the page.

The callow youth I was way back then probably would have given this a four-star or even five-star rating. But in the intervening years I've read too many novels that actually have real character development.

Ironically, just yesterday I finished a book that is almost diametrically opposite 2010. The Sparrow (by Mary Doria Russell, published in 1996) is a book full of complex personalities and their interactions, and even her thinnest characters were more fully fleshed than the best of Clarke's. On the other hand, the ideas that Clarke deals in make him one of the undisputed masters of the genre. (Russell's central story in The Sparrow is too cerebral—and too theological—to capture the heart of scifi).

Unfortunately, 2010 doesn't really bring anything new that hadn't been revealed in 2001. The new story is nice and fairly engaging, certainly. The story's climax is a bright and shiny idea, but nothing significant compared to the mysteries of the monolith and Bowman's transcendence from the original.

Even so, this almost thirty-year-old novel has held up well. The only false note—to me—was in the epilogue, which is date 20,001 BC. Two of the planets around Lucifer have, we infer, human presence. Clarke certainly should have heard of what would later become known as the technological singularity, since one of the creators of the idea had been a consultant to the production of 2001. The idea had been around for fifteen or more years by 1982, although it was not until 1993 that Vernor Vinge wrote the seminal paper the coined the term. For someone as optimistic about the rate of technological development as Clarke, I'm quite surprised he apparently thought homo sapiens would still be around as a species one thousand years hence, much less eighteen thousand years.

A good and easy book to read, overall. Not the important classic that 2001 is, though.

(Book selection for the Hard SciFi group (aka the Yahoo hardsf group) for the month of January, 2010.)
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Claire S I had a hard time getting through it, and in fact didn't finish. After the first 2, it quite disappointed me. Just didn't really find the part I read very interesting.. maybe my SF window had already closed for the time..
P.S. I think you'll have wanted me to mention: typo - second line from the end of review itself: thought, not though..
Great review!

Richard Claire wrote: "After the first 2, it quite disappointed me."

First two what? This was only the first of the sequels, wasn't it? I know 2061 came five years after this one, then 3001 in 1997. Did you read 'em out of order?

Claire wrote: "P.S. I think you'll have wanted me to mention: typo - second line from the end of review itself: thought, not though..."

Got it. Copy editing is always welcome!

Claire wrote: "Great review!"

But no click on "Like this review?" Awww.

Claire S No clicking due to work distractions.. there!
Oh, wait, ok, my comment was out of order actually. 2010 I still liked. Never mind!
Character development - yes, always a good thing!

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