Author: Arthur C. Clarke
Series: Space Odyssey #2
Genre: Science Fiction
Review Copy: Paperback bought new
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5
Nine years after the disastrous Discovery mission to Jupiter in 2001, a joint U.S.-Soviet expedition sets out to rendezvous with the derelict spacecraft–to search the memory banks of the mutinous computer HAL 9000 for clues to what went wrong…and what became of Commander Dave Bowman.
Without warning, a Chinese expedition targets the same objective, turning the recovery mission into a frenzied race for the precious information Discovery may hold about the enigmatic monolith that orbits Jupiter.
Meanwhile, the being that was once Dave Bowman–the only human to unlock the mystery of the monolith–streaks toward Earth on a vital mission of its own…
2010: Odyssey Two is the second book of the Space Odyssey series by Arthur C. Clarke. This science fiction novel is a sequel to the highly successful 2001: A Space Odyssey.
I should make one note about this book. It’s not actually a direct sequel of the 2001 novel, as that involved Saturn. However, it’s a sequel of the movie, which went to Jupiter. This book involves Jupiter. This actually makes a lot of sense, because of the discoveries by the Voyager spacecraft at Jupiter. It’s a much better fit for what happens in this book.
The cast of characters is quite different this time. Although it does go in search of HAL and what happened to Dave Bowman, they’re now on a Russian ship with most of the characters being Russian. The main character is Heywood Floyd, who is from the first book. He goes on the mission along with HAL’s creator Dr. Chandra and Walter Curnow. The Russians are dominated by the captain Tanya Orlova, assistant engineer Maxim Brailovsky, Vasili Orlov, and the doctor Katerina Rudenko. There are a fair number of characters other than them, but these stand out to me. I quite like Maxim and Walter’s interactions, giving it a bit of a light mood. Tanya is a strong character, but very likable. Dr. Chandra is a stereotypical unemotional, withdrawn computer genius who I just can’t connect with. Dr. Rudenko is a great character, and very likable. The main character, Dr. Floyd, is a very human character, though I wouldn’t have made the same choice as him to leave his family for this mission. Overall, the characters are nice, friendly people, but they’re not very deep. That’s one of my gripes about this book. I just couldn’t connect with anyone.
The story is pretty straightforward, find Discovery and recover its data. What they find, though, is a mystery. And this mystery unfolds as the members of the Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov watch what happens, something I won’t spoil for anyone. But it’s a big change, that’s for sure. I found the story fairly understandable and easy to read. There are a lot of technical terms, but not too difficult for the average reader. It’s pretty scientifically accurate with the knowledge of the time. The only problem is that I felt distant, like I was watching it all from afar. I didn’t feel like I was part of the action. The story was interesting, but not engrossing.
This book suffers from not living up to its predecessor. It was enjoyable and a quick read, but I felt a bit unsatisfied at the end. I am curious about what’s going to happen with Europa, although that is hinted at the end of the book.
Would I recommend it? Mildly, yes. I give it 3 out of 5 stars. It’s readable, enjoyable, but not very engaging.