Monday, June 19, 2017

Book Review: 2001 A Space Odyssey

Well, what can I say! I am at a loss of words to express the enthusiasm of reading this masterpiece. It is a nail-biting read. With this work, I believe that Arthur C. Clarke is at his best. He described all the scientific aspects with such great care and detail that I felt I was in a space ship traveling to the Moon and Saturn all along.

The story begins with retelling the history of human evolution - from man-ape to a civilized human being. It provides an intriguing perspective about "how" the it happened. Beginning with Road To Extinction towards A New Dawn. This forms the basis of history of things to come.

Arthur Clarke adores Saturn - the ringed planet of our Solar System. The way he admires this beauty is nothing short of admiring a strong willed lovely woman. It really made me wonder what an amazing planet it can be! I also remember a short story by him from the collection: Tales From Planet Earth, where he describes Saturn more beautifully.  You might want to read that also: Saturn Rising.

The greatest experiences of reading this novel is about the journey through space. It eloquently describes how amazing space travel can be and entices its readers to embark upon the journey despite its shortcomings.

One of the major themes that Clarke describes is about Artificial Intelligence (AI). HAL 9000, the artificially intelligent computer fully controls the spaceship leaving astronauts to perform other important tasks. He questions AI when HAL misbehaves. He compares HAL's misbehavior to a criminal's behavior when he tries cover up a crime by committing more crimes.
Bowman could easily believe Dr. Simonson's theory that unconscious feelings of guilt caused by his program conflicts caused HAL to break the circuit with Earth.
This raises questions about the current trend in technological advancement. Machine Learning and AI should be employed to the extent that they should only offer a helping hand to humanity; not to the extent of controlling our lives.

When I found HAL as an interesting character, I immediately browsed through the images of HAL in the film adaptation of the novel. Then I was sure that the robot Auto, from the movie WALL-E, was inspired by HAL. This was evident when I found out that WALL-E was homage to the movies: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien and Blade Runner. Andrew Stanton, director of WALL-E, also voiced HAL in a short film adaption.

HAL 9000 and Auto
Clarke's vivid and awe-inspiring imagination overwhelmed me near the end. The entry into the Star Gate, arrival at The Grand Central and under The Alien Sky is so fantastic that you will feel the adrenaline rush throughout the journey. He has blended fantasy and science fiction exquisitely.

If you are not used to science fiction, then I highly recommend this novel. Its an amazing read - A op class page turner (one of my fastest reads). Oh, if you are confused about the ending, I've got one word for you: Evolution. All the sequels to this novel are in my to-read list. I am picking up 2010: Odyssey Two next, as soon as my thoughts about this work that are still lingering in my head settle down.

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