Monday, September 01, 2014

2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke

When you remember that "2001: A Space Odyssey" was written in the very dawn of the Space Age, that makes it pretty impressive. Man had not even orbited the moon when this book was published in July 1968, just a few months after Stanley Kubrick's movie.

Arthur C. Clarke provides an introduction on this download, and it was fascinating to hear the history behind this iconic story. In 1964, he and Stanley Kubrick decided to collaborate on a new project, using Clarke's short story, "The Sentinel," as a starting point. Clarke describes this as "a mood piece about the discovery of an alien artifact on the moon. A kind of burglar alarm, set to go off on man's arrival." Kubrick suggested that he and Clarke let their imaginations soar freely by writing a complete novel from which they could derive a movie script. In reality, the novel and the screenplay were being written simultaneously. Clarke says some parts of the novel were written only after seeing the screen rushes of the script.

Dick Hill was a great narrator for this book, providing excellent voices for each character, and getting through the sciencey bits in a very calm and smooth way that didn't make my brain hurt. This book stands alone very well; it does not need the movie. The movie, however, needs this book. I don't remember completely understanding the movie when I saw it, but after hearing this book, I totally get it. And recommend it.

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