Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Space Odyssey 2010: Odyssey 2

Arthur C Clarke was a visionary story teller and science fiction writer. He will forever be remembered for his visionary writings, such as the conceptualization of the geo-stationary communications satellite; and for his great works of fiction such as the 'Space Odyssey 2001' (made into a excellent movie). In Space Odyssey 2010, he continues his work, moving ahead the story of the monolith around Jupiter (in a slight adjustment, while 2001 the book was about Saturn, while 2001 the movie was about Jupiter, and hence 2010 the book refers to Jupiter - so readers should not get confused that the first book talks about Saturn while the second book talks about Jupiter).
2001 was in the decade when the quest for the moon was at its peak, and the book was right before the Moon landings were planned, so there was a great more public enthusiasm for the book (more suspense). This book (Odyssey 2) was released in 1982, so it was not directly linked to anything happening in real life, and the space program was ongoing, but that initial romanticism was missing.

2010 Odyssey Two By Arthur C Clarke

This book was set in a period 9 years after the events of 2001, and a joint Soviet-American expedition on Soviet spaceship Alexei Leonov is planned to visit the abandoned Discovery spacecraft so that they can find out what really happened (after all, David Bowman vanished from the viewpoint of Earth (he turned into a starchild)), as well as to determine what happened with regard to the monolith. However, there is a surprise since a spacecraft leaps out of Earth orbit, and is revealed to be a Chinese inter-planetary spacecraft called Tsien, setting a course for Jupiter and expected to reach before the Leonov.
The Tsien lands on Europa to collect water for its propulsion, but runs into an accident when native life forms overwhelm the ship (attracted by the light from the ship) and given the loss of the ship, the crew are destined to die there (the final survivor radioing this information to the arriving Leonov). The Loenov eventually reaches the Discovery and Dr. Chandra manages to reactivate HAL. At the same time, we learn that the ethereal form of David Bowman visits his mother and girlfriend on Earth; he also does investigation of the life forms on Europa and in the cloud region of Jupiter. In the balance between these 2, the life forms on Europa are deemed to have a far greater potential for growth and evolution.
Bowman then appears before Floyd and warns that they must leave Jupiter within 15 days. Naturally, the crew hesitate to believe Floyd until they see the monoliths growing all over Jupiter, at which point an emergency mission is setup, using the Discovery as a booster for increasing speed. And in a scene designed to remind humans about the awesome capabilities of the intelligence behind the monoliths, the monoliths actually increase the density of Jupiter until the planet becomes a star (having achieved nuclear fusion). And there is a final warning that Bowman delivers via HAL, "ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS EXCEPT EUROPA. ATTEMPT NO LANDINGS THERE." HAL in turn is absorbed in the monolith just like David Bowman was.

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