Monday, August 10, 2009

2061: A Space Blunder

I'm slightly crestfallen with this sequel to 2001 and 2010. It starts off with Heywood Floyd, a man who is 103 years old, passing an physical exam in order to ride aboard the spaceship Universe which will rendezvous with Halley's Comet. Meanwhile, his grandson Chris (named after his father who was just a child in 2010), is aboard the sister ship, Galaxy. When the second ship is hijacked, the crew and passengers of Universe rush out to the Lucifer system to rescue Galaxy which has landed on the forbidden planet of Europa.

Much things have changed in the last 50 years since the new sun was created, one that leaves you wondering if evolution can take place that quickly.

Unlike with the previous parts, Arthur C. Clarke seemed to have lost his edge. Before I was glued to my seat, turning page after page of the novel. It was only through the sheer fact that I promised myself that I'd read all parts to the Space Odyssey series that I continued onward (I have 3001 sitting on my desk as we speak, looking straight up at me as if mocking me profusely).

The entity that was once Dave Bowman and the consciousness that was once Hal, the computer from the ship Discovery, only present themselves at the end of the novel, which was a good decision. How much more of that pair can we possibly take? However, Heywood Floyd is also split in two, which is as much as a spoiler as you'll get from me.

I understand greatly that the character could not be used again in a later sequel, what he was doing here was puzzling enough but that plot hole was quickly sealed with the fact that he spent the last years of his life in space and suspended animation.

There were even parts of the book that felt like bad humor, such as the whole Beatles reference. Okay, I understand that the Beatles may not be so popular in the last half of this century - and that's a possibility I hope not to live to see.

The writing also seems like something poured over the weekend with a large amount of coffee - though I'd imagine that would be greatly disorganized and this at least followed some structure. Nevertheless, my faith in Arthur C. Clarke will not die with a bad sequel. The fact that he has proven to write two pieces that I instantly fell in love with is proof enough for me that the man has some talent. Let's just hope for my sake that his final chapter of the Space Odyssey series goes over well.

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