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3001: The Final Odyssey Mass Market Paperback – January 28, 1998
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As far as the ending "ruining the series", I disagree. This book (as with most of Mr. Clarke's novels) does not wrap everything up in a tight bow. Rather, it ends the immediate worry of what the Monoliths are "really up to", and gives the human race some breathing room. I also really enjoyed the ride of this book in discovering human life in the 31st century. My only real leap in logic is the fact that Frank Poole could have ever existed to tell his story. But he is a nice central figure to have around, so I can let that go :)
Even with the disclaimer about an author not needing to do a straight alignment of the facts of an earlier novel in the series, the fires of Jupiter did flameout in 2061. I would think this woul be a salient fact that would need to be explored. So there. As a soon to be septagenerian, I still read SciFi for the ideas. Mr. Clarke was a part of my maturing process with his writings since junior high. I pondered his thoughts along with everything else coming at me. I am disappointed in the end of the matter. I could and probably should write a story about a man being resucitaed and rejoining of body and soul, but it would be from a christian theological thought process.
In some respects the limitations and reveal of the monolith are somewhat disappointing. On the other hand it brings it back to our own universe, where technological advancement does not make you a God.
While not well received as the rest of the series it is surely worth the read.
There are a lot of negative reviews for this novel and honestly I can understand why. I was in the same boat about halfway through but had a bit of a revelation. 3001: The Final Odyssey isn't so much a short novel as it is a really long prologue for the entire 20xx series. At first, 3001 felt like it was written by an author lost in the universe he'd created. Clarke isn't the first and wont be the last author to fall into that trap. As a fan of many sci-fi and fantasy authors, I've seen it happen before. Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind...it happens to quite a few good authors, even the occasional master like Clarke. After thinking about it for awhile though, 3001 grew on me. It doesn't tie up all the loose ends, and it treats some of them in a manner that doesn't make a lot of people very happy, but ultimately I was okay with that. Sometimes things don't work out how we want them to and that seems to be the road Clarke took - this many not be what you wanted, but it's what happened.
For sure, a lot of the novel is spent as a political and religious outlet for Clarke in his later years. Yes, the conclusion can be seen as unsatisfactory and one can almost hear Jeff Goldblum in the background repeating his line from Independence Day; "we'll give it a virus...a computer virus..." but in the end, 3001 brings the 20xx line of stories to a conclusion that may not satisfy everyone, but really should be seen as a ray of hope - Humanity, given freedom to develop as it will.