on July 14, 2001
It's true that 2061 doesn't add much to the series in terms of learning about the monoliths or Bowman -- in fact, it would probably be LESS confusing to skip this book and read 3001 instead (the "Trinity" and "3001" chapters don't mesh well with what comes later). But if you truly appreciate Arthur C. Clarke's writing, you'll probably enjoy this book. Just like with 2001, 2010, 3001, and Rendezvous with Rama, Clarke takes you on a voyage into a world of his creation, giving you the chance to explore it and marvel at it. Although the voyage to Halley's comet is completely unnecessary in plot terms, it is a classic example of Clarke acting as a tour guide on a fascinating voyage through his world. Also, this book is another milestone in Clarke's progress as a character author -- a change that can be seen as you move through Clarke's 2001 saga. Don't expect any answers to questions you may have about 2001/2010, but if you enjoy Clarke touring you through the universe, it is definitely a worthy read.
on December 3, 2000
I bought this books at the same time I bought "Childhood's End", "2010: Odyssey Two" and "Rendezvous with Rama", having read these three pieces straight, one per day, and being left with a sense of absolute wonder at the pondering the brilliant mind of Mr. Clarke makes us travel through, I was expecting to read this book uner the same vein.
Unfortunately, that did not happen, at least for me. (Note that just because one does not like something, does not mean the object in question is bad)
2061, has nothing new to offer to the series, and although we have a chance to take a look at what's going on in Europa, you could skip this book and wouldn't miss any vital information. As a matter of fact, at the end of the book I was so uninterested at the situation, that I no longer remember the ending.
If you, just like I used to, think that you need to read this book in order to understand 3001, just as you need to read 2010 to understand 2061 and 2001 to realise what's going on in 2010, the truth is that you don't have to.
Of course, someone out there might like this book, just like some of the reviews below show, so, give it a try, you might like it after all.
on May 1, 2000
After reading the mostly tepid reviews posted on this website, I thought that 2061 would be a truly awful book and an embarassment to the superb 2001 saga. After actually reading the novel, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was enjoyable and well constructed. Arthur C. Clarke has greatly matured as a writer; his characters are far more solid than they have been in his previous work. For all his brilliant plotting and scientific legerdemain, one must admit that Clarke's characters have often been bland and uninteresting. Moving on to the plot, I have to say that the whole mission to land on Halley's comet was undeniably cool. As usual, Clarke's accurate scientific observations give everything an air of realism and plausibility. Now the negative aspect of this novel: even a supporter of this novel has to admit that it doesn't really compare to 2001 and 2010. The monumental, immensly imaginative revalations woven into the first two novels are conspicuously absent here. Indeed, 2061 lacks the grandeur of previous installments. Still, it is a worthwhile read for followers of the 2001 saga and fans of science fiction. I haven't read 3001 yet; I hope that it proves to be a worthy conclusion to this excellent series.
on June 30, 2000
This was a mediocre book relying on the success of the other two books to boost sales. I don't think it would have gone very far on its own. The writing was much more shallow than most of Clarke's other books, and the characters were even more uninteresting.
One thing I really love about Clarke's books, especially 2001 and 2010, is the description. 2061 didn't have much of that; there was a sense that we had already seen these things before so they didn't need to be described again.
The book wasn't all bad. The redeeming feature is the premise. In the beginning Dr. Heywood Floyd (who I was glad to see again) was on a ship that landed on Halley's comet, which was an interesting twist. I've never read a SF book about landing on Halley's comet before. In the meantime, another ship is hijacked and ends up stranded on Europa, a moon of Jupiter that mankind has been forbidden to land on. The ship that Floyd is on is sent to rescue the other ship. It was an intriguing plot line and more could have been done with it. As usual the characters are uninteresting, and there seem to have been more useless characters in this book than in most of Clarke's books.
I certainly wouldn't call this a must-read for anybody. It's a fast book to read and somewhat entertaining while it's being read, but I doubt I'll remember it very long.
on September 27, 1999
I think Clarke's 2061 stacks up well with the two preceding odysseys. I believe the plot was well-developed with its two separate, yet inevitably linked parts. The famous Dr. Heywood Floyd relaxes while on his way to rendezvous with Halley's Comet while his grandson sets his sights with Galaxy on his way to the forbidden landing satellite of Europa. With the beautiful twist of the force landing on the Jovian (now Luciferian) moon and the rescue mission that the Universe is then sentenced to, the suspense becomes great and the awe plentiful. Clarke's lucid description of the planets, moons, and new-found life are real, stunning, and exciting. The recurrence of the 'spirit' of Dave Bowman and the secret of the mysterious Monolith in a more subtle manner simply add to the essence of the well-formed plot. The characters come alive about their realistic struggles in the Space Age. Clarke is a remarkable author, and has proved once again his superiority with the wonders of Space in his third odyssey.
on December 29, 2004
Despite its title, "2061" is no odyssey. Though "2010" was a worthy successor to the original "A Space Odyssey", this third book in the series is inferior to it in every way.
RECAP: the series concerns itself with a mysterious and never-seen race of aliens use living computers to stimulate the growth of intelligence in primitive but potentially productive life-forms. In "2001", one of these computers - contained within an enigmatic monolith - targets hominids, early men 3 million years in our past. Ages later, a second monolith is discovered on the moon by advanced humans, and signals this discovery by beaming a message to a third, and much larger monolith, floating near Jupiter. Working in secrecy, Americans dispatch a spaceship, "Discovery", crewed by astronauts having no idea of what their mission is about, and helmed by the chatty-yet-psychotic computer HAL-9000. By the end of the book, HAL has been terminated, and Dave Bowman - the sole survivor of the mission - confronts the monolith, never to be seen again. In "2010", Heywood Floyd, the boring scientist from the first book, accompanies a Russian expedition to recover "Discovery" and solve the many mysteries left over from the last book - like what happened to Dave Bowman and HAL, and what's up with those monoliths? By the end of the book, the monoliths have converted Jupiter into a subscale sun, turning its many moons into a miniature version of our own solar system. All of these new worlds are ours, except for Europa - the watery moon that likely harbors life.
In "2061", man has colonized all of the Jovian moons, save Europa, and space travel has evolved dramatically. Heywood Floyd, now over a century old, plans to spend his next vacation on a trip to Haley's comet. Looking and feeling well for his age (though prolonged time in zero-gravity means that he can never return to Earth), Floyd is decidedly upbeat. Meanwhile, Floyd's grandson finds himself marooned on Europa when a spaceship he's on is hijacked. Clarke tosses in dissident Afrikaners, a mountain-sized diamond, and the possibility that the monoliths may have been damaged in the fiery creation of the new Jovian sun.
So why doesn't this novel boldly go? With "2010" being a welcome surprise follow-up to the iconic "2001", Clarke may have missed how difficult it is to flesh out a franchise. Nothing much happens in the first half of "2061", and it's soon clear that nothing is going to happen. Clarke maintains the same air of enigma to the monoliths that made the first books a lot of fun, but he gives them little to work with - they loom, boding some dramatic event, but otherwise do nothing. The "action" of the book has Floyd's grandson trying to stay alive on Europa, while Heywood commandeers his space-cruiser, using ice from Haley's comet as fuel. Bowman returns, this time accompanied by a transformed HAL-9000, now also an advanced being. There is talk of Europa and the monolith's experiment with Jupiter being at a crossroads - interesting, given that it's been scarcely more than 50 years since Europa was thawed out, and what's that to the cosmos? (How and why the Europans survived the radical change to their environment is never explained.) Little actually happens, and there are none of the fun characters of the second book - Walter Curnow doesn't appear, and Dr. Chandra did not survive the return trip in "2010". At best, "2061" is a passable novella, but hardly a novel, and certainly not an adventurous one.
on August 30, 2002
2061 is one of my favorite science fiction books. I love the way it goes into technical detail. (If you know of science fiction that has more technical detail, please e-mail it to me!)
This book had potential to degenerate into a horror book. It didn't take that route, and for me that made it more eerie. You need to suspend disbelief for this book. In real life humankind has not had any widely observed direct evidence of extraterrestrial life or a "creator". In this book series, humanity finds such evidence... when Jupiter becomes a small star and the Discovery's computer sends a mysterious message calling for humans to make peace and granting humans permission to explore the solar system with the exception of Europa-- no other commandments or explanations. Humankind knows it's powerless against something that could create a star, and so it obeys the monolith's laconic directives.
Imagine the scene at the end of the movie 2010. We are shown that Euopa is changing thanks to Jupiter having been turned into a sun. We see water an plant life. In the distance we hear movement. Could animal life have developed? Although it looks like a swamp, we know the atmosphere is mostly methane-- the environment is nothing like anything on Earth. Then we see the monolith silently towering over the swamp, influencing it perhaps as it influenced Earth a billion years ago. Now for 50 years human kind has diffidently avoided Europa. There has been no further activity associated with the monolith. They have tired to observe from a distance, but clouds of vapor resulting from the heat of Jupiter obscure Europa most of the time. Humans are getting more and more daring about how close to Europa they venture. In this book, humans decide to risk sending down a probe. While they're launching the probe, a hijacking forces them to land on this forbidden planet. The stranded researchers focus on staying alive and cautiously exploring Europa while they are waiting for a rescue. They come in contact with many natural phenomena and one supernatural phenomenon.
If you can imagine contact with something as powerful and laconic as the monolith appearing and you can imagine the awesome temptation to study it while trying to remain as dispassionate as possible, you will really enjoy this book.
on April 22, 2005
I'm finally getting to the final two books of the Odyssey quartet. I found this novel pleasurable but also light as air, figuratively weightless. It is like a leisurely, futuristic travel adventure with just a smattering of the quality found in the previous books.
The story is set around Dr. Heywood Floyd's trip to Halley's Comet in 2061, and his grandson Chris (who must be around age 50 or 60, but seems written as quite younger) gets to play a role. Much is shared about Europa, and what has become of that world since the implosion of Jupiter into the minisun Lucifer some fifty years earlier. Clarke moves the story along with a series of plot devices to provide reasons for delving further into Halley's Comet and the mystery of Europa.
Clarke is always fascinating to read, especially if you enjoy his fondness for prescient predictions. His dry humor is also evident in some places. I thought the "car wash" scene in particular was pretty amusing.
While the story is never tedious, I could imagine many readers asking themselves when we'll see HAL and Dave (there's almost as much said about Dave on the back cover as in the prose itself) and learn more about how we got to this book in the first place. But it never quite happens until the very end, and then it's over before we really get to savor the moment.
Nevertheless, I thought the climax, including what happens to Heywood Floyd, was quite well written and satisfying (especially considering HAL's fate), and despite its extreme brevity, I felt it almost makes up for the rest of the novel.
This obviously isn't Clarke's most serious novel, so it's almost unfair critiquing this against his best work. Just leave your thinking cap on the desk and enjoy a different kind of odyssey.
on September 26, 2010
The big idea behind Arthur C. Clarke's 2001 series is so good that just about anything he wrote within it would be good reading. This isn't a great book -- it really has an amazing amount of catchup-style narrative, telling us what has gone on over long periods of time in order to set the context for dialog and action in the present tense. John Barth derisively referred to such narrative as "corning the goose."
The other thing that Clarke does in this book is explain. He explains what's going on on Europa. He explains (more or less) what's happened to Dave Bowman. One of the great things, I thought, about 2001 was how little he explained. The enigma of the blank, black monoliths was great -- a power beyond our ken. Fortunately in this book, Clarke doesn't explain who made the monoliths. Even Dave Bowman doesn't understand who they are.
But I don't really care about what are arguably faults in the book. I enjoyed it, I enjoyed finding out what was going on on Europa, and I even enjoyed knowing a little more about Dave Bowman's fate. And I especially enjoy the way that Clarke puts us in our place, contrasting us with an inconceivably different and sophisticated alien presence.
on August 7, 2005
This entire story is a waste of time. Fortunately for a novel it is short, so you don't waste too much time one it. The story has minor (but somewhat predictable) plot twists that culminate in two paths merging. The real downfall for this book, however, is that Clarke sets you up for a climatic rescue attempt that is scarcely mentioned once you get there. Literally, what should have been the climax of the story is dealt with within 3 sentences. Before I knew it, all the characters were safe and on their way home without any disasters/ narrow misses/ or complications that would have made for a REAL story.