This is Arthur C. Clarke’s final sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey, and inevitably, there will be spoilers for the previous books in the series.
[Spoiler (click to open)]
This book brings back Frank Poole, who was killed by Hal in the original book, as he is resurrected 1,000 years in the future after being retrieved from space. This proves to be quite a masterstroke on Arthur C. Clarke’s part, and it is good to return to the character.
The best thing about this book is the first part, which describes all of humanity living in giant “towers” hovering over the Earth, and wearing “braincaps”; later in the book, we learn about a secret vault where all types of plagues – and apparently computer viruses – are quarantined. The book then proceeds to talk of Frank Poole’s journeys through space and his landing on Europa, where the Alien Monoliths were preventing anyone from landing.
Inevitably, Dave Bowman and Hal make another appearance, but this type they have somehow merged to form one entity, “Halman”, but his conversations with Frank Poole were one of the most enjoyable parts of the book. I also enjoyed Poole’s comments that he was glad he wasn’t taken from the year 1001 and left in 2001, which he believed he could not have coped with.
Like the previous books, this is overly wordy in places, and does not live up to the original; the only bad point was that there are constant recaps of events in the previous three books, just for anyone who missed them or forgot; the conclusion, where they find out the purpose of the monoliths does not seem quite as epic as a reader might have expected, and feels a little rushed, but in the end makes for a satisfying conclusion to the series.
If you read the previous three books, I recommend trying this one too.
Next book: Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll