2001: A Space Odyssey – Arthur C. Clarke & Stanley Kubrick

The other day I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey for the first time and it is cetainly a film that splits audiences if ever there was one.  Personally I thought it was an audacious piece of cinema and after ruminating on it for a while the first words that came to mind were: monumental, disorientating, meandering and immediate.All these elements coalesced together to form a wonderful bit of cinema.

Unsurprisingly I preferred the book though.  Okay so that may seem to be a tad biased but I have my reasons.  It mainly centres on the narrative, whereas the film feel a little disjointed at times, the book, elaborates, explains and to a certain extent humanizes the entire experience.

Naturally, you will notice that it is now a slightly out of date story, happily seminal sci-fi never gets old and this story of an ancient monolith found on the moon that points the way to a (possible) answering of the question are we alone? has retained that ability to thrill, in any era.

The book and the film do differ significantly to say the screen play was co written by Clarke who wrote the novel in conjunction with the film, but overall I would recommend the book first, as that will flesh out the film and give you a better insight into the ideas that they were trying to convey especially that end scene, the final fifteen minutes, which get very Nietzschean with his idea of the ‘superman’.  Perhaps that is unfair to the film though, it would be tough for any film to convey the epic scope of the ideas contained within the novel.

The book definitely feels much more personal than the film and has more scope to make you think, indeed the title Odyssey is not without a certain Homeric vibe, with the idea of heroic journey ans the sense of the vastness of space is palpable. All the BIG questions humanity has ever asked whilst looking up at the sky are given a mention and as a treat for book readers, they get a different destination to the film viewers, as at the time it was to deemed to difficult to explain the slingshot maneuver to an audience.

If you read this I do recommend trying out the Ste J idea of method of reading and getting yourself somewhere quiet and isolated.   Especially for the ending,which is one of the most memorable I’ve so far come across, and I’ve read more than four books. Finally HAL 9000 is the best computer character ever conceived (that I have so far read about)

and when you realise 2001 was amazing, pick up 2010: Odyssey two which is equally as good, if not better than the first which is very impressive in itself.

21 Replies to “2001: A Space Odyssey – Arthur C. Clarke & Stanley Kubrick”

  1. I’ve never read the book nor seen the movie. In fact, I didn’t even know it was a book, and have always told myself I really should see the movie at some point in my life as I feel out of the loop! So, I will definitely read the book first based on your recommendation (and it’s always nicer to start with the book first, isn’t it?) and then see the movie.

    I will read the ending in a quiet, isolated location (under the bed? in a tree? sorry, just in a silly mood!) but it’s good advice 🙂


    1. Under the bed is always a nice cosy place to read, and discover odd socks as well. The book essentially tells the story from a more human aspect, rather than the epicness of the film we get a feel for how small we are in the vastness of space. The film leaves some people cold as they have no idea what it all meant but the book gives you everything you need to know…and then demands you read book 2.


      1. Oooo, book 2… didn’t know there was a second one!

        It’s interesting what you say about the movie leaving some people cold. I sometimes go see a movie where I’ve read the book first (of course I can’t think of an example right now) and I like the movie but I think to myself, “If you haven’t read the book, I can’t imagine how you would understand this movie”.

        Perhaps the producers/directors assume the movie goers will be fans of the book so will know the back stories of the characters, etc?

        Anyway, looking forward to discovering this series. May ask for it for Christmas!


        1. Book two has the awesome title of 2010: The Second Odyssey and this one has one of the most vivid sci-fi passages in it, one I havce reread many times, which is not something I do all that often. If you are into a bit of other sci-fi stuff, I would also recommend checking out Rendezvous With Rama (also by Clarke) for more episicity. I’m sticking to my guns here and saying that is indeed a word.

          The problem with this movie is that it leaves you with a taste for the unexplained, and the consciousness of not understanding our univrse, but runs the risk of annoying people who don’t wish to read. I wonder if, at the time, they really did push the book as well. That is an interesting thought. I wonder if that should be the way forward for films, do a book first giving the characters lives, histories etc, and then do a film that can explore higher or just concepts of the story than the book. Two interersting thoughts in one paragraph, not bad for a Sunday afternoon.


          1. Hahaha, I’d say pretty great for a Sunday! 🙂

            I’m actually not a huge science fiction reader, but I dabble in it once in a while as my brother, who is a big reader like us, loves it. I think I will buy him Rendezvous with Rama for Christmas (I’m getting all sorts of gift ideas from you today). There’s always the risk that he may have read it but that’s always a problem with giving books to a reader!


            1. Sci-fi is not something I read lots of, although i have accumulated a fair amount of books on the genre. It’s nice to go there for a short while, the same with fantasy as well. I hope he hasn’t read it as it’s a great book to discover for the first time, especially when read under the bed. I’ve taken to having an Amazon ‘wish list’ so I can keep track of books I want (631 at the moment although it needs updating) and give people ideas so they don’t get books i already have. Roll on christmas!


  2. Nietzschean? Oh I love that one! And Clark, but then I love the genre intensely (you might have noticed a leaning there in some of my comments). Yes Hal is just about the coolest a.i. ever, I think! :). Take care of you Ste J, Penny 🙂


    1. It was your sci-fi chatter that made me get around to watching the film, after all these years being ignorant of it. I feel a hankering to explore the genre again, I do have Dune, Foundation A Princess of Mars, as well as a couple of Philip K. Dick books and some more Clarke to help me on my way though.


      1. Great stuff. probably one of the first sci-fi readers I read was Robert Heinlein, Not only was he highly literate, he told a great story as a central theme and constantly threw social liberties and freedoms into the mix, he wrote a fair amount of science/sci-fi stories (not fantasy) for teenagers which was/is is not done very much! And he had a most excellent sense of humor! 🙂


        1. Once again my ‘to (buy and) read’ pile is getting bigger by the day, not that I’m complaining. I shall check him out, in a literary sense.


          1. In this country he is considered by many to be the “father” of sci-fi! But it’s his wit that you end up falling in love with, at least I did!


            1. I feel I have been missing out, sometimes i realise just how vast the field of books are and the furrow I plough will never take in more than a minute percentage of the great works out there. I like a challenge though.


              1. Challenges are a good thing! And of course there is always “time enough for …” Actually I’m going to share the above quote. One of his best selling books towards the end of his life is called “Time Enough for Love!” He was also into social commentary.


                1. I like words that mean things. If I get a lottery win, then it shall be a big house, loads of books and enough bed for people to stay around. Simple pleasures are the best ones.


  3. It was a very controversial film when it came out. A monumental film as you say, but a little draggy. Some of the ideas remain very relevant. Will have to read the book.


    1. I thought I would have been more overawed by the film, with the reputation is has, but non the less it was compelling viewing. The book is totally different in its viewpoints from the film, so it really does make a great companion piece.


  4. I’ve heard so much about this book and movie, but somehow have never read or seen either all the way through. I’ll have to put it on my list, since it is certainly a cultural phenom. I haven’t been back to your blog for a while, and I’m enjoying the reviews. I think I need to expand my reading (I tend to get concentrated in one little niche, then just do my own writing for a while) so maybe looking at these reviews might give me something new to try. It would be nice to read some good writing after the junk I’ve reviewed.

    You have a great style. Have you considered reviewing professionally? I have no idea how one goes about that, but I think it’d be a heck of a lot of fun.


    1. I have missed you, of course and I hope that I can go some way to helping you find something good to read, I’m writing a review about a book on Greek Performance Theatre which should be up in a few days (major exclusive there!) and I would recoomend that. I think I need to concentrate on serious books a bit more for the time being.

      I appreciate your comment on my style and it will definitely be going on the cover of any book I write, with the obglitary five star review and address for your blog. Now comes the hard work of writing something. Being my own biggest critic, I think I need to work on my structuring a bit more but I am looking to get into writing, I’ll try my hand at anything. it’s be great to make a living at it instead of doing a meaningless job. But then again we all think that, right?


      1. When I first read your comment I thought you said you were writing a review on Geek Performance Theatre and I was like, WOW, he really does know me! Haha. Actually Greek theatre sounds interesting too. Have you read any of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series? They are YA, but I highly recommend them. Funny and clever ways of modernizing Greek mythology. My daughter learned a lot from it, including how to read because she was too excited to wait for me to get to the next chapter. That’s a good book there.

        And YES I would love to get paid to do this stuff since I happily do it for free right now. My librarian job is not bad, but I would love to be able to choose my hours. 8 to 5 is so draining. Being able to write for a living is like a dream, except then I’d worry that suddenly I’d get writer’s block or something. Lol.


        1. I haven’t read much YA stuff for a bit, another genre i am sadly neglecting, I shall add the first one to the christmas list though. writers block is always a worry, I sometimes stare at comments or half done posts for days with nothing coming right. Still I think that if you write about something you’re passionate about then you are bound to get over the block quickly, but having said that i could have just jinxed it lol.


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