5 April 2013

Blinded Me With Science: A Review of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke

It is with great satisfaction to finally read a book from the cannon of old that I not only like but agree with the hype.  Arthur C. Clarke's, 2001:  A Space Odyssey is a perfect example of how to infuse science into a science fiction plot.  For those of you still hovering on the outskirts of the SF reading genre (jump in, geekdom awaits you) you may be surprised that most do not accurately relay the laws of science.  In fact, most glorify in ignoring the laws of the known universe for the sole purpose of creating a remarkable tale.  Let me direct you to Star Wars, (I know, I have a problem), while it is awesome to hear the Millennium Falcon streak by, in reality sound is impossible in a vacuum.  Holy shit, I know.  Also, the Millennium Falcon is not real, so just chew on that little piece of information for awhile.  I recommend crying into your pillow, it helps with the pain. 

 As discussed in my post, East or West:  A review of The Long Earth science can impede a plot. I should note that for this and for every post I will assume that "science" does not equate boring to you.  This being said, science can sound coma inducing boring thanks to poor writing and editing   There is nothing worse than a book being muddled by facts so anal that the plot is lost.  

Where to start, hopefully unlike me you have seen the Kubrick movie.  I know, my lack of knowledge is disturbing.  Even better, it wasn't until I read the book that I became aware of the history behind the creation of the book and film.  Fascinating on its own but not relevant to this review, Clarke's book can more accurately be described as a joint creation.   My original purpose in creating Thank the Maker was to document my reading adventures in old SF.  Having read mostly works written in the last 25 years or so, I am not one to speak to the masters of the genre.  In fact, up until the inaugural posting my only foray into the masters of the genre was Isaac Asimov. Having read the Foundation Series years ago I could not help but notice the influence the works have had on future SF writers.   One day  I will create my side blog The Foundation Effect to document the effects the series has on us and the means by which the genre influence our general perceptions of story telling.  Please try and refrain from stealing my award winning idea.  Did you just roll your eyes?
Watch your back, bro

2001:  A Space Odyssey works because it is in essence the perfect little space story.  There is mysticism, extraterrestrial life, suspense, murder, and the ability to glorify the vastness and subsequent glory of space.   Even better, it holds up.  Sure, we have a much better understanding of the planets, and our hypotheses and subsequent theories of the universe is far different from the world Clarke grew up in.   The book is reminiscent of Tomorrow Land at Disney Land:  rather out of date, but highly enjoyable in a nostalgic kind of way.   I would be remiss not to discuss HAL.  Why 2001: A Space odyssey passed is the drama around HAL was not the driving soul to the plot.   Most writers would have made this the denouement, Clarke uses it as a plot mover. True, it is integral to the story but not THE story.