I'm not sure if I've ever been more disappointed in a book. This has been on my reading list for decades, and I finally got to it.
As a huge fan of authors like Robert Heinlein, David Brin, and Phillip Dick, I thought this would be right up my alley. I really couldn't have been more wrong.
The first 3/4 of the book were filled with outstanding hard science fiction that ha sstood the test of time very well. That's the reason why I gave it two stars.
The last 1/4 of the book transforms into a mystical fantasy world that would be more at home for a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. It would seem as if the author's intention was to leave us with the feeling of not knowing what the heck was going on, but I really could have done without all of the magical mysticism.
Perhaps this book was groundbreaking and insightful back in the 1960s, but in the year 2020, the only compelling part about this story left is HAL, who occupies a very minor (and consequently quite insignificant role) in the story. Many of the concepts explored have stood the test of time well. The story has not, and the transformation from hard science fiction to whimsical fantasy left me scratching my head.
I am so glad that this is now in my past. Meanwhile, I've removed everything written by Arthur C. Clarke from my list of "books to read". The only time in the last year where I have been more bored was when I was watching the movie, but that's a review for a different product.