The sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssdey was never going to live up to its predecessor, but I still found it to be an enjoyable read, having picked it up several years ago, and decided to make my way through the whole series again. Of course, now that it is 2012, this book (set two years ago, and written in 1982) is now somewhat dated.
Because I realise not everyone will have read the original book, or seen the film, I’ll put the rest behind a spoiler cut.
[Spoiler (click to open)]
Arthur C. Clarke constantly recounts events from the previous book, and occasionally gets a bit carried away, presumably for the benefit of anyone who didn’t read it; aside from that, the way this book is told is very similar to its predecessor, with a lot of the story taken up by quite impressive descriptions of events that occur out in space.
The book brings back Heywood Floyd, who is part of a team sent to find out what happened to Dave Bowman, who also shows up, now in the form of the Star Child, and the book does explain more about what was going on at the end of the original book. HAL is also resurrected, although he doesn’t actually get that much to do.
Some of the characters in the book are easier to care for than others, although there is an apparent sexual tension between some of the characters, which isn’t explored as much as it could have been. I also found the moments with Dave Bowman appearing to his mother (through the television) to be very moving.
The first few chapters of the book seem a bit slow-moving, but the story picks up in the second half, and the finale is quite breathtaking at times, with Jupiter being destroyed and a new sun appearing above Earth, but most of what the book does is pose new questions instead of explaining what is going on, and I was never sure if Arthur C. Clarke had the whole series planned in his head when he wrote this, or if he was just making it up as he went along.
This is a worthy follow-up to one of the greatest sci-fi books of all time, but don’t expect anything that will completely live up to its predecessor.
Next book: Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin