Born in Somerset in 1917, Arthur C. Clarke has written over sixty books, among which are the science fiction classics `2001, A Space Odyssey', `Childhood's End', `The City and the Stars' and `Rendezvous With Rama'. He has won all the most prestigious science fiction trophies, and shared an Oscar nomination with Stanley Kubrick for the screenplay of the film of 2001. He was knighted in 1998. He passed away in March 2008.
Clarke, who began this now classic sf series with a short story, 2001: A Space Odyssey (made into an OscarR-winning film in 1968), brings us to the end of that long journey with this work. In 2001, a black monolith brings about the dawn of human consciousness and begins the evolutionary process that transforms ape into man. At the dawn of the 21st century, an identical monolith is uncovered on the moon that points the way to Jupiter. Dave Bowman and Frank Poole, astronauts aboard Discovery, and the computer HAL begin that long voyage. Only Bowman survives to encounter a third monolith on Jupiter's moon Europa. This encounter transformed him into something more and less than human. 3001 begins with the startling discovery of Poole, who is revived after his 1000-year sleep. Awakened into a world he never made, Poole struggles with the inhabitants of the Earth society into which he is reborn. Humans now reside not only on Earth but in awe-inspiring towers that reach beyond the atmosphere. They also have intellectual capabilities never dreamed of in Poole's time. But they live in dread of the three monoliths that dominate the solar system. Poole becomes their last hope for answers to the questions that the enigmatic monoliths pose. Clarke's prose, always grounded in science, has the uncanny ability to inspire a sense of awe. The mystery of the monoliths and their relationship to humanity is finally revealed, as is the transformed nature of Bowman and HAL. This is another fascinating journey by an unparalleled master in the sf world, and while this work is subtitled The Final Odyssey, Clarke does leave the door slightly ajar‘maybe we'll be treated to 4001: The New Beginning. Highly recommended.‘Roxanna Herrick, Washington Univ. Lib., St. Louis
Frank Poole was the astronaut murdered by the berserk computer HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey. In this third sequel to that classic novel, Poole is returned to life after his frozen body is recovered floating near Neptune. Much of the novel centers on Poole's reentry into society as, in a series of vignettes, he is introduced to the wonders of the year 3001. These include an enormous space habitat completely encircling the Earth and anchored by four gigantic space elevators; velociraptors genetically engineered for use as gardeners; and the braincap, a machine that allows the mind to absorb information almost instantaneously. Halfway through the novel, Poole travels to the former planet Jupiter, now the mini-sun Lucifer. There, he learns about the development, sparked by a mysterious monolith, of a civilization on Europa, about the banning of humanity from that Jovian moon, and about the occasional ghostly visitations of astronaut Dave Bowman (introduced in 2001) to the Lucifer system. Defying the ban, Poole lands on Europa and encounters both Dave and HAL, now fused together into one semi-autonomous program within the Europa monolith. From them, he learns that the monolith's signal broadcast a millennium ago was a request for further orders. He also learns that an answer is expected momentarily and that humanity won't be pleased by the result. It is only at this point that Clarke injects any real tension into his story. Unfortunately, the threat he imagines to humanity's future is dealt with somewhat offhandedly in a mere 30 pages; then the story ends. This novel is a must read for those who have followed the saga so far, but it's too thin to interest those new, or at least unfamiliar with, the series. Major ad/promo; first serial to Playboy; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternate selection; Science Fiction Book Club main selection; audio rights to Random House Audio; foreign rights sold in the U.K., Spain, Latin America, France, Japan, Brazil, Holland, Italy, Portugal and Sweden. (Mar.)