Monday, June 15, 2009

2010: Odyssey 2 (Clarke, AC)

Rating: 4
Year: 1982
Genre: Sci-Fi
Read again? Yes

Go back to Lackey? Nope. I've got the remaining three "2001" books ready for launch.

This sequel to "2001: A Space Odyssey" begins with a disclaimer; the first book and Stanley Kubrick's very long screenplay were written concurrently in the mid-1960's. Where the movie's events took us to Jupiter and its little system of moons, the novel took us to Saturn. The disclaimer for "2010" notes this difference, and that this novel will instead follow the lead of the movies and take us back to Jupiter. It makes for some annoying continuity problems, but then again the original book was begun in 1964.

That said, "2010" is a satisfying follow-up. Dr. Heywood Floyd is given a chance to ride to Jupiter to try to recover the Discovery. Dr. Chandra--the man who designed HAL 9000--will be coming, to assess the computer's mental state. They're going up aboard a Soviet spaceship, the Leonov, the only ship that can get them there in time: Discovery's orbit around Europa is decaying.

As they're making their approach, Dr. Floyd is brought out of Space Sleep ahead of his two compatriates: there's a problem. The Chinese have launched a ship of their own. It reaches Europa days ahead of the Leonov; everyone's concerned that they might be trying to do their own salvage operation on Discovery...yet the Chinese ship lands on Europa.

The ship is destroyed, its crew killed by something plant-like that snaked up from the depths below Europa's icy crust.

Leonov makes orbit in its own good time. The crew doesn't have time to investigate the Chinese ship's destruction. Discovery is brought back to life, then HAL is restored. The computer doesn't remember killing off his crew, let alone being shut down by Dave Bowman.

Meanwhile, the being formerly known as Dave Bowman comes back, with a warning: Leonov is in great danger and must leave soon.

Hard review to write--the book both drags and doesn't seem to drag, if that makes any sense. Clarke copies--well, quotes, actually--several pages' worth of stuff at length from "2001" to move us along, but I ended up just skipping ahead. Maybe a summary would have worked, but I won't second-guess him.

I'm still liking Clarke's style; he's straightforward, practical, like an old Chevy truck. There's no glitz or glamour, and maybe it's a little slow at times, but it'll get you where you need to go, and he never--NEVER--forgets that telling the story and keeping the reader in it is what it's all about.

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