When I first saw the film version, I didn't like it, I thought it was slow, it didn't have enough character development in it, and I also thought the end was confusing, but it did have some things to offer. I certainly thought it had a good story and plot to tell, and I thought many of the concepts in it were good. So when I found out they made a film sequel "2010: The Year We Make Contact", I decided to give it a look, and I loved it. Unlike the first film, I did not think it was slow, and it was a lot clearer, and cleared up a lot of the mysteries left at the end of the first film. After watching "2010" I decided to give "2001" another try, and although I still think it's slow at times and it could have been better, I do like the first film now. Then I decided to read the novel, and I think the novel is even better than the film.
There are some distinct differences between the film and the novel, most of them I think made the novel better. The man-apes at the beginning go though a lot more in the novel than in the film, there's more character development between them (although trying to do that in a film wouldn't have worked given that they are primitives that can't speak, but in the novel it works great), you actually see what the alien Monolith does to them, you see them gradually becoming more and more human after their encounter with the Monolith, and you see them confront the leopard that has been terrorizing them before they confront the rival man-ape tribe. There's more character development involving Dr. Floyd, Frank Poole, and Commander David Bowman. Our characters have more emotion in this novel rather than being almost completely emotionless as in the film. The novel is a lot clearer than the actual movie. It goes into more detail about the race who constructed the Monoliths. And I found the part where the computer Hal-9000 malfuntions and starts killing the crew more suspenseful than in the film. And instead of the Discovery spacecraft going only to Jupiter as in the film, it goes to Jupiter and Saturn, and it's Saturn where Bowman encounters the second Monolith, not Jupiter as in the film. The only thing I actually liked better in the film was the part were Hal overhears Bowman and Poole ploting against him. Hal's discovery of their intentions to disconnect him are played out differently in the novel.
Like the film though there are some parts that seem slow which is why I'm giving the novel four stars instead of five, but overall, I thought the novel was much better and a lot more suspenseful than the film. I really enjoyed reading this and I think any other sci-fi fan will too.