2001: A Space Odyssey Review

I finally tackled the first book on my list of 50 classics. For this, I chose 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke. I had already seen the movie, and Cam owns it. When comparing the two, the book is far superior. While the film is visually beautiful, so much emotion is missing as compared to the novel. I can’t believe I hadn’t read it until now.
While I was reading, I learned a few things about the creation of the novel. I didn’t realize the novel and the movie were born in tandem from a short story of Clarke’s called The Sentinel. I had always presumed that the movie was based on the novel, but it was actually published after the film was released.
The themes of the novel are masterful and continue to be ubiquitous in science fiction even today. The novel begins with a group of ape-men struggling for food. While you cannot feel the hunger pangs from watching the scene in the film, you feel the desperation of the search for food while reading the novel. The ape-men are introduced to a bizarre extraterrestrial stone that alters them. I never thought a book predominantly about a mission into space would make me think so much about intelligent design or intervention. While I don’t support the theory, it is an interesting exercise to think about. What would the purpose be? If extraterrestrial life deliberately designed intelligent life on earth, as the book suggests, why have any clues of their existence been hidden away? The artifact that propels the mission is later found buried our own moon, and modern man desperately seek the answers. Clarke brilliantly offers no answers, only enough information for the reader to wonder about them.
The story of the book centralizes around a mission to one of Saturn’s moons. The mission is manned by Dave and Frank. This is where another brilliant theme that has become so common in modern sci-fi unfolds. HAL, probably one the most well-known artificial life-forms in fiction, becomes self-aware. He is designed by humans, and ultimately develops human behaviors. He is hiding that he knows the true mission—to fly to a moon of Saturn, where the a radio signal was sent after unearthing the extraterrestrials’ stone. It seems laughable that a machine could harbor guilt or have feelings at all. Since the publication of this book, there have been several other fiction stories written with this as the central theme.
The main reason I continued to read was Clarke’s beautiful and knowledgeable descriptions of space travel. This novel was published before we landed on the moon, but it still holds up well with continuing discoveries of our solar system. His descriptions of of even the most basic needs make the mission seem real. He may have left the big questions up in the air, but he left no detail unturned aboard the ship, right down to cooking without getting scalding hot coffee on you. I could even imagine the buoyancy of walking across our own moon.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. There were a few slower parts in it, but it was a short read, so it didn’t affect my pace much. I would highly recommend this to anyone curious about where humanity has been and where it is going. You won’t find answers or the destination, but you will enjoy the stunningly written journey.


The Classics Club 50 Classics Challenge

classics-club The Classics Club has a 50+ Classics Challenge to be completed within 5 years.  My deadline is 12/31/2019.

I thought this would be a great opportunity to work on a list of “mostly” classics and “mostly” sci-fi/fantasy/horror.  Several on my list are series.  A few are more modern classics. Most of them I have never read, or read in school and have long forgotten that I ever did.    I put series of books as one item on the list for no other reason than I would prefer to read them in order and not break them up.  If you notice I included a book that is actually part of a series, please let me know so I can read the whole series!

  1. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkein
  2. The Lord of the Rings trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkein
  3. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
  4. 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne
  5. Dracula, by Bram Stoker
  6. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, by Douglas Adams
  7. Dune series, by Frank Herbert
  8. Christine, by Stephen King
  9. Foundation series, by Issac Asimov
  10. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
  11. The Wheel of Time series, by Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson
  12. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
  13. Watchmen, by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, and John Higgins
  14. I, Robot, by Issac Asimov
  15. Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert A Heinlein
  16. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
  17. The Martin Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
  18. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
  19. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle
  20. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, by Philip K. Dick
  21. Invisible Man, by H.G. Wells
  22. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
  23. The Once and Future King, by T. H. White
  24. Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
  25. Earthsea series, by Ursula K. Le Guin
  26. The Silmarillion, by J. R. R. Tolkein
  27. Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke
  28. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
  29. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
  30. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
  31. Journey to the Center of the Earth, by Jules Verne
  32. The Stand, by Stephen King
  33. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
  34. The Magician series, by Lev Grossman
  35. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
  36. Cosmos – nonfiction, by Carl Sagan
  37. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury
  38. The King in Yellow, by Robert Chambers
  39. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
  40. The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood
  41. Maddaddam series, by Margaret Atwood
  42. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
  43. Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
  44. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
  45. The Chronicles of Narnia, series, by C. S. Lewis
  46. Complete Works, H. P. Lovecraft
  47. Complete Works, Edgar Allan Poe
  48. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
  49. A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
  50. The Picture of Dorian Grey, by Oscar Wilde

I don’t anticipate reading them in the order they appear on the list.  Although, I will likely start with The Hobbit on this list.  It’s a re-read, but it’s been at least 10 years since I read it.  I doubt I appreciated it as much in high school as I will now.  Cam will likely read along with me, as it is his favorite book.

Around the World in 12 Books Reading Challenge

I am joining the Around the World in 12 Books Reading Challenge for 2015.  I am participating as a Wayfarer Challenge Participant.  According to the challenge and the level I am participating, I have to read 4 books from different countries in 2015.  Luckily, I have a few books in mind already and made a list:

  1. Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe, set in Nigeria
  2. The Return of the Native, by Thomas Hardy, set in England
  3. The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck, set in China
  4. The Idiot, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, set in Russia


– The Wayfarer doesn’t like to plan; he/she likes to journey as the need takes them, deciding where to go on a whim or inspiration or simply how they’re feeling
– Read a minimum of 4 books over the course of the year
– Books can be set in any country, but they must all be different countries
– You do not need to decide on your choice of books ahead of time. You can select books as you go
– No re-reads
– Any genre is okay (including non-fiction) BUT books MUST be set in a specific country or region with a noticeable attention to the location or environment; some genre books won’t be much use for this challenge

around the world 2015

Hosted by Shannon at Giraffe Days

After completing each book, I’ll post a review on this blog.  This will definitely challenge me to read more internationally!