Following on from '2001', '2010' and '2061', '3001' completes Clarke's series of alien contact, as Frank Poole is reanimated a thousand years into his future to confront alien monoliths once more.
When I first read this on publication in 1997 I hated it, thinking it a travesty of the original '2001: A Space Odyssey', however ten years later having re-read all four novels back to back I find myself a lot more impressed by it, with the ultimate showdown between humanity and the monoliths being a natural extention of the ongoing narrative of the earlier books, and the fact that certain aspects are open to debate (are the monoliths malfunctioning, or is this all another alien test?) adding to the fun.
Clarke's increasing habit of re-inserting entire (albeit small) chapters from previous novels does reach annoying heights here, though the argumet could be made he is refreshing readers memories of past events, but on the whole '3001 - The Final Odyseey' is an enjoyable ride, as Clarke paints an intruiging future life for humanity and brings the monolith tale to a close.
A solid finale.
on 4 May 2006
Clarke returns to the universe of 2001: A Space Odyssey with the fourth and last novel, this time focusing on Frank Poole, the astronaut murdered by Hal in 2001. A thousand years later, Poole's frozen corpse is retrieved and revived by a society that regards him as a hero and a living national treasure. At first he's fully occupied with learning to live in an alien society and providing information to historians. But as boredom sets in, he finds himself drawn back to space and the Jupiter system... and the possibility of a meeting with David Bowman.
As Clarke notes in an afterword, it's not possible to be completely consistent in a series about the near future that was written over a period of thirty years, and this book is better viewed as a variation on a theme rather than a sequel. With that in mind, the within series continuity glitches aren't an issue, although there are a couple of annoying glitches within the book's own timeline. The real problem is that this book is mostly a travelogue of the year 3001, with the section about the monoliths feeling sketchy and tacked on. There's also a problem with some blatant preaching in places, when characters who are supposed to be having a conversation sound more as if they're reading a prepared speech to sway an audience. I found it
annoying, and I agree with many of the views being espoused.
It's a readable and often enjoyable book, but I expect better from Clarke. I'd have felt cheated if I'd spent the money to buy this in hardback.
on 20 September 2000
The book is ultimatly readable as it is pacy with the 'cant put it down' feel. I managed to polish it off in two days and thouroulghy enjoyed it. Arthur C Clarkes' imagination and vision of the events that will take place within the next 1000 years is marvellous. would certainly reccomend yo anybody who would like to know what will happen to man(woman)kind!
on 17 May 2015
This book is a big disappointment. After the thrill of the original 2001 and the two subsequent books, I was looking forward to a capstone book where we learn much about the social and political structure of the universe. I expected this to come from some knowledge regarding the builders of the monoliths and their real purpose in creating them. However, it turns out that they are just stupid machines, most likely not even as intelligent as HAL, yet somehow sophisticated enough to absorb the personality of David Bowman, who still manages to "live" and influence the actions of the monolith.
The book begins with the discovery of the body of astronaut Frank Poole in deep space, where he is still alive after a thousand years. He is revived, and the story largely revolves around his attempts to acclimate to a new society. This gives Clarke the opportunity to make some predictions about the future course of social and technical advancement, most notably the near abolition of religion. While such a situation is of interest, the real point is to reach some understanding concerning the purpose of the monoliths, and that is just not covered.
I read the book because I felt the need to complete the series. However, it lacks the drama and mystique of the previous books, even the social commentary is not up to Clarke's previous high standards.
on 8 October 2009
As with the other reviews here, liked it very much.
Have to ask though, why are the dates screwed up? The narrative seems to imply that Frank was born around or even after 2001 and that the events of 2010 actually happened about 20 years or so afterwards.
Also, as with the previous books, there are again complete chapters repeated from the prequels...
on 19 April 2016
We're finally at the end of the Space Odyssey series. When I reached this finale, I was very relieved, as I was very keen to just get to the end of it all and see what the heck the purpose of the monoliths was! But when I closed the book, I was actually a tad emotional, because despite some sections of this series being really boring and pretty unnecessary, I have to say that Clarke's way of writing really is quite magical and unlike most else that you find in the literary world. When I considered this, I was pretty sad to see the series come to a close.
Anyhow, on the matter of the book itself, as a whole, it allowed me a huge sigh of relief! 2010 and 2061, while still by no means bad, weren't as mind-blowing as 2001, so they did make me feel rather unneasy about how the grand finale would be. But mercifully, I'd say that 3001 is the best of the lot, (phew!) I tell you, that's how every final book of a series should be.
The end message of this book is perhaps its strongest point. It's incredibly redemptive and satisfying, tying up all of the loose ends. The main body of the book also has good points, with much scientific intrigue. Some sections of the narrative are very readable, and the pacing of these sections is also something to behold. The storyline is perhaps even better than that of 2001, with even more plot twists which will keep you thoroughly hooked.
This said, I DO have gripes. First of all, the drama. In parallel with previous works in the franchise, most of the drama shown in this story is certainly unnecessary. Honestly, it's so loosely tied in to the main storyline - (if at all) - that it adds about as much positive influence to the book as an internal infection would to the human body. You can almost hear Clarke saying to you, from the pages, in an ever so over-confident and full-of-himself tone, "Oh no, I need to discuss the CULTURAL, SOCIAL and ECONOMIC aspects of it all AS WELL. Oh no, you can't just have thrills and spills throughout it ALL, you know. You've got to make it a GROWN-UP, DIGNIFIED, MULTI-DIMENSIONAL, RICH DOCUMENTATION. THAT is how you get a first-class story, my good sir."
"Well, Clarke," I would say in response, "I HALF agree with you there. Yes, you need to add other dimensions and aspects, so that it isn't just same-old-same-old, but excitement is a big priority too, and you don't just want to add drama for the sake of drama. The drama has to HAVE A POINT, so that it actually counts as a PART OF THE STORY. We actually have to ENJOY the stories that we read, not be randomly BORED SENSELESS by them. Yea?" Oh, and the characters. They are at a new LEVEL of cheese. Remember how cheesy the characters were in the previous Space Odyssey books? Well, the ones in this story are as cheesy as that AND some. Each and every one of them is about as believable as a member of the royal family who broadcasts from one of their ivory tower and says, "I'm living in poverty". Clarke gives so little nurturing to their conviction that you'd guess a cheap home computer generated their dimensions. On top of this, in places, I really don't like the structure of this book. In order to get across his views, Clarke has repeated a lot of passages from previous works in the franchise. This is COMPLETELY unnecessary! We REMEMBER what you said in your previous books, Clarke! We don't need forcefully reminding of them at every turn as if we have the memory capacities of goldfish! A COMPLETE waste of the rainforest that is. In one of the Woodland Trust headquarters, I'm convinced that one of the conservationists there will be saying, "I sense...a disturbance". Also, one scene is magnificently washed-out in terms of its emotional impact. The scene shows people coming face-to-face with alien beings, and for all it emotes, the astronauts may as well have just briefly walked up to the creatures; said, "Oh wow, look: aliens; cool" in a monotone; and walked away, indifferent! Honestly, Clarke, these are ACTUAL EXTRATERRESTRIAL BEINGS! Try and show A LITTLE excitement about them!
These not-so-good aspects of the book really do taint the pacing of it magnificently, and you will need to be a class A massochist to not feel tempted to skim read through certain sections.
Although in places this book is cerebral-haemorrhage-provokingly boring, the main storyline, scientific material and ulterior message well and truly pull it out of the tar pit. It's the best in the series, and a very fitting grand finale to the Space Odyssey series. Good old Arthur C. may just be the greatest sci-fi writer who has yet graced the literary world.
Reviewed by Arron S. Munro.
on 15 July 2011
I had no idea this book (the fourth in the series)had been written and happened upon it whilst surfing the Amazon bookshelves for another author.
It is a right and proper ending to the story started many years ago with 2001 S.O.
Without giving anything away ( I personally dislike 'spoilers' ) it updates the storyline and answers a few questions left at the end of the previous book,for any fans of ACC and the series it is a must read.
It is a shame that we will never read any more from Mr Clarke.
on 3 August 1999
Clarke is often spoken of as the successor to HG Wells. It seems that his art may be following a similar pattern- from concise, exciting blends of action and speculation, to bland tracts on Man's Destiny. This book is almost a synthesis of much of Clarke's other work (the Space elevator makes a welcome reappearance), and at times it seems that the author didn't really want to write a Space Odyssey book but just ramble on to his friends about how amazingly futuristic the future could be. I do hope this book isn't a contractual obligation because the series, especially after the brilliance of 2010, deserves more. It is written in an accessable style, though Clarke can be a bit smug at times- again, echoes of Wells. Apart from the Elevator, we see the fruits of genetic engineering and the final form of government. Also there's a good bit with a vault on the moon full of scary things. The end is desperately disapointing, Clarke's successors, Greg Bear or the superb Stephen Baxter, could have done so much more. And yet it's all many times better than any of the so-called science fiction that mkes it to the telly, and you could do worse than reading it on the beach or on the train. Has the great man lost his touch?..
on 4 August 2000
After some years of bad writing, Clarke seems to be back in orbit. It is a nice touch to revive Frank Poole to let a voice from the 2nd. millennium comment on the 3rd. There are many good things in this novell, already mentioned by others - and my main point for this serial ("give me back the magic!") is almost there.
However, there are weak points! Were should be talking 1000 years ahead in the technological future. This is not the case. Except perhaps for the reactionless drive (something already discussed in Rendezvous with RAMA) the tech stuff can only be seen to be some fifty or 100 years from now. That religions should disappear like that is not credible, nor is the ending of the monolith with a computer virus plausible (I can emulate a computer on a different physical one, but giving the emulated computer a virus will not bring the physical down!). And why should it be impossible for the 3rd. millennium people with their tech. to land on 1G-planets after a long time in lower G's? Doesn't fit to me... There are other glitches in Clarke's foresights, but mainly: The book is a good science fiction book. Just don't relate it to "2001"...
on 12 February 2008
This is part iv in the Odyssey quartet, it is also the last part, and thank goodness.
2001 and 2010 built up an amazing world, one believable even and thought provoking. If you've read just these two, stop, go no further. There's no big revelation you've been looking for, you will not get answers and you will be dissatisfied with the finale you reach.
3001 is a trojan horse, a gift that looks like a spectacle, it's not. It's a short book that exists only to entertain A.C Clarke's ponderings on future technologies. It's a tale of a possible, far distant future, totally unrelated to the previous books. The problem is that there isn't a story, there's no narrative pushing the story forward.
Hitchcock always had his MacGuffin, the plot device that moved the story forward. This book doesn't have that. For half the book Poole (who was killed in 2001, only to be revived without explanation of how in 3001) does nothing other than 'discover' his new society (hence my remarks about Clarke's ponderings). It is only when he decides to go to Saturns moon and try and make contact with Bowman that things take off, though that may be an exagerration.
Bowman and Hal, who 'live' inside the Monolith on Saturn's moon have somewhere along become captives, now working on the monoliths whim, not their own. They warn that there may be a coming threat from the Monoliths. Who before were not bound by distances or time, are now restricted by communication at the speed of light.
The ending is weak, unclimatic, unemotional and unexplained (how do some computer virus' take down a computer that created manking, destroyed worlds and created suns). Neither Poole's, Bowman's, Hal's or Floyd's story arcs are really completed in any real way.
Once again, this already short book is made shorter by the re-use of chapters from previous books, which to me is a very cheap and easy way out.
With 2001 and 2010 Clarke set up a great narrative, with 2061 and 3001 he let it down.