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VINE VOICEon 1 September 2002
Clarke returns once again to the mysteries of the Monoliths as an American/Russian mission races a Chinese one to investigate the disappearance of Dave Bowman in 2001.
Again he manages to catch the genuine sense of scientific exploration as the two missions enter Jupiter's moon system. The race with the Chinese vessel also gives the novel a nice sense of pace.
The scientist's account, as he awaits his own death, of the Chinese's disasterous encounter on Europa is at once gripping, horrifying and touching.
Dave Bowman, the Star Child, also returns on the side of mankind in the face of the strange alien intelligence behind the Monoliths. And this adds another level of wonder to the story as he explores the solar system as all but a god.
If the coming of Lucifer in this story doesn't set your pulse racing and your mind whirring, then I don't know what will.
In general, perhaps not as good as 2001, but a science fiction masterpiece nonetheless.
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on 11 February 2016
2001 was a complete sensation. However, I get the feeling that Odyssey Two is more of a means to an end, which is leading on to the more epic chapters of the series ahead. It's definitely not bad. However, there is FAR to much general drama, rather than the thrills that you'd want from a sci-fi. 2001 delivered on this front; 2010 doesn't. With 2010, you feel as though Clarke is rather distanced from the action and adventure that he's creating - (and the action and adventure is very infrequent as well). You don't really get the same sense of immediacy that you did from 2001, which means that this book loses that key tonal impact that it needs to have. The drama contained herein is virtually all pointless as well as being too numerous, (those two factors often go hand-in-hand in the sci-fi world). Perhaps some of the drama adds a little bit of character depth/tonal impact, but the rest DOES NOT. There's so much random wittering between the central characters, (which are all pretty darn un-memorable, by the way), that at many points in the story you're more or less losing the will to live. Okay, I'd be alrite with a treakly narrative if the pacing counterbalanced it, but it doesn't! This story is SO gratuitously slow-paced that you may well be tempted to start skim-reading it when you get about a third of the way through! All that said, the scientific material present in this work is rather good. The principles that Clarke discusses will have you well intrigued. However, I wouldn't say that they'd blow you away in the same way as you were by 2001.
It's definitely not offensive, but this book is a bit of an uphill battle, as it's far too long for the key points it contains, and the action and adventure is miniscule compared to that exibited by 2001.
Reviewed by Arron S. Munro.
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on 4 October 2012
Arthur C Clarke (died 2008) was a visionary. He predicted the satellites which have already changed our world and has written about the space elevators that I believe will one day do them same.

The 1968 novel, '2001: A Space Odyssey' was Clarke's take on 'first contact'. His collaboration with Director Stanley Kubrick immortalised this story in a film of the same name which is now regarded as a classic masterpiece. The film did much to popularise Clarke's books but he was already a huge favourite within science fiction circles.

2001 ended definitely yet ambiguously. It was crying out for a sequel and finally, over a decade later, in 1982 we got one. However, it was a different novel from the first with a different message.

2010 tries to tie up the loose ends from 2001. What happened to Dave Bowman? Why did Hal malfunction and kill Frank Poole? What is the monolith - who created it and why?

However, this 'sequel' was written during the Cold War, at the height of the nuclear arms race and Clarke mirrors this tension in the novel with a joint US-Soviet mission to Jupiter to find out what happened while a nuclear crisis brews back on Earth.

This adds an extra dimension to the plot while making it more relevant to the 1980s.

Written as it was in the 1960s (following JFK's famous 1962 speech about putting a man on the moon), 2001 could afford to be ambitiously idealistic and boldly futurist. However, by the 1980s the Apollo programme was over while the space shuttle was yet to fly it's first mission. Interest in space exploration was stalling while nuclear war between the USA and USSR seemed a far more immediate concern.

As a life long supporter and promoter of space travel, Clarke was saddened by this as he still believed that our future lay out amongst the stars. He felt that space exploration had the potential to unite humankind in a way that nothing else could and he explores this idea in 2010 with a more politically themed story.

The 2010 rescue mission to Jupiter is a joint US-Soviet project out of necessity not choice. The USSR is closer to launching a manned spacecraft than the USA so they will reach the 'Discovery' (stranded in orbit around Jupiter at the end of 2001) first. However, the Americans are better qualified to resuscitate the derelict ship and they are also desperate to discover what went wrong. The two nations therefore grudgingly agree to a joint mission whereby three American astronauts will join the Russian crew abroad the "Alexei Leonov". This sets the scene for numerous disagreements/arguments between the crew and results in a potential crisis later in the novel when diplomatic relations between the countries break down on Earth.

This is all very different from 2001 which only touched briefly (if at all) on such issues despite also being written during the Cold War and only a few years after the Cuban Missile Crisis.

I think this change in focus is due to Clarke's own realisation that his hopes for space exploration did not match the reality. In the 1960s he was naively optimistic however by the 1980s he could see that space exploration was mostly motivated by politics not idealism.

Whatever his reasons for choosing such an approach, the story now suffers from feeling dated as a result, whereas 2001 (by avoiding the politics on Earth) has paradoxically remained more timeless and relevant. However, 2010 does answer many of the questions left hanging at the end of 2001 while also rushing towards it's own satisfying, yet unexpected conclusion.

2001 was predominantly a novel about space exploration and alien contact while 2010 is predominantly a novel about avoiding nuclear war in the interests of world peace. Despite the fact it is mostly set in orbit around Jupiter, the threat of a nuclear holocaust back on Earth looms in the background throughout.

Sadly Clarke isn't at good at writing gritty political intrigue as he is at writing inspirational idealistic adventure so 2010 doesn't match the epic nature of 2001. However, it's still an excellent continuation of the story with a tense plot, plenty of good science (e.g use of aero-braking to slow down the spacecraft as it nears Jupiter) and perhaps most importantly - a thorough and convincing explanation of what went wrong with HAL and what happened to Dave Bowman.

It's a story that needs telling because it provides the answers that 2001 deserves but it also carries it's own very worthwhile message that despite our differences we are all residents of the planet Earth and must co-operate if we are to survive. This becomes clear towards the end of the novel when the crews in orbit around Jupiter are forced to do exactly that in order to return home safely.

Several reviewers have commented about the poor characterisation in the novel. I agree that this is true but disagree that it is a failing. Perhaps because he was such an idealist (as well as being a bit of a recluse) Clarke was unable to convincingly portray his characters with sufficient depth and complexity. But people don't read his books for those reasons and if you do, you will be disappointed. He stuck to what he was good at - inspirational, futurist space exploration. Character development didn't rate as a high priority in any of his novels.

Additional Comment: 2010 was also made into a film in 1984 however without a master like Kubrick at the helm it suffered from a satisfactory but wooden screenplay which failed to convey any of the tension or wonder in the story. It's only worth watching if you're a Clarke fan.
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on 16 April 2003
When I read this 2nd book of 4 in the Odyssey series I was simply gripped to it! Having read 2001 before hand I suppose I wanted to find out the answers to the mysteries Clarke had left unanswered and what had happened to the famous and elegant Discovery. A Soviet-American space mission aboard the 'Leonov' sets off to Jupiter to retrieve and revive Discovery, spinning hauntingly in the silent depths over the volcanic Jovian moon of Io. They reactivate the Discovery and revive Hal who can't remember anything about his disturbing behaviour in the previous mission because his memory has been erased. We get to see Dave and we eventually get to see the king of all planets meet its downfall. This book is SUPERB! An enjoyable and thrilling read! I would say it also much more action-packed and gripping than 2001, but then again its prequel is still very much the greatest in the series! You must buy this book and read away! (the film is also worth seeing)
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on 15 February 2010
2010 carrys the torch forward in the oddessey series and unlike many sequels I think it is better than the first.

It still has the epic descriptive texts that made the first book so enjoyable but this time there is also more of a story to it.

It starts with the race between the USSR's (with two Heywood Floyd and Walter the engineer as the american contingant) vessel Leonev and the secretly launched Chinese vessel Tsien to reach Juipeter and Discovery to find out exactly what happened to Dave Bowman.

There are a couple of really amazing chapters with the now omnipitant Bowman scouting Europa and Juipeter itself for the Monolith's and Clarke has excelled in creating two different biospheres and races.

The characters all have depth and are individuals, something that can be lost in large crews in sci-fi.

It was a worthy sucessor to 2001 and i'll definatly be reading it again.
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on 12 August 2007
2010 is actually a sequal to the film (2001) and not the book. I would suggest watching 2001 the film before reading this book otherwise you'll be left wondering what's going on.

2010 the book is actually extrememly good. It starts off in many ways very similar to the first. You could be forgiven for thinking everything up to the Jupitar arrival is the same story. Where it advances to is very interesting and as someone has said, the last few chapters are inspired!

If you've seen both book and film of 2001 then this should be on your list.
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on 20 October 2011
As someone spellbound by the Kubrick original film, i later read all the 'Odyssey' novels as i wanted to clear up the amiguity of the film! I love this book and is my favourite of the four. Still after all these years, the foresight of AC Clarke astounds me. Way ahead of his time in every respect.
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on 11 February 2009
Nine years on and the latest mission is to find out what happened to David Bowman and Discovery - and the monolith, which is still floating above Jupiter (the book is more a sequel to the film than the original novel). It's told in Arthur Clarke's usual rather flat style, with short, bite-sized chapters, with interesting speculations along the way.

There are some wonderful descriptions of Jupiter and its moons, and the mystical flavour of the original isn't forgotten. But where 2001 had just two main characters, Bowman and Poole - with the ominous presence of the HAL 9000 computer in the background - the sequel suffers from too many. Much of the action is described from the viewpoint of Heywood Floyd, who was in the original, but the other members of the crew become mere cyphers, whose conversations are used to explain the plot. Dr Chandra, HAL's inventor and mentor, is interesting, but the others have little life to them.

Characterisation isn't that important in a Clarke novel, and as sequels go this one's an interesting read. It could never match its illustrious predecessor anyway. Well worth reading, but don't expect a classic.
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on 28 September 2013
I thought I would comment not on the story, but on the actual book itself : The cover, and the pages themselves, all look like photocopies of a 'real' book : the text is 'thick', and there are specks on some pages, just like if you photocopy a page over and over. The cover feels cheap, and the whole book curls and flops. Very strange. Owning the similar looking previous volume (2001) I expected the same quality. I notice that the publisher is actually different for the second volume (Harper Collins Voyager). Not worth crying about, but a little disappointing.
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on 20 May 2005
After the religious/philosophical experience that was '2001', this was ironically a lot more down to Earth with more action and domestic situations. A sequel to Kubrick's film, we see the occasional written flashback to that celluloid masterpiece, lacking in Clarke's original novel. We realised Dave Bowman had left a mother and a wife on Earth. The world political situation depicted here has not aged well with America, the Soviet Union and to an extent, Red China at each other's throats. Perhaps Clarke should have simply ignored world affairs as he did in the original. Nevertheless, a riveting adventure.
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