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2001 A Space Odyssey - Arthur C Clarke NEW Book

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2001 A Space Odyssey - Arthur C Clarke NEW Book

2001 A Space Odyssey - Arthur C. Clarke - NEW Book

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In the background to the story in the book, an ancient and unseen alien race uses a mechanism with the appearance of a large crystalline monolith to investigate worlds all across the galaxy and, if possible, to encourage the development of intelligent life. The book shows one such monolith appearing in ancient Africa, three million years B.C., where it inspires a starving group of the hominid ancestors of human beings to conceive of tools. The ape-men use their tools to kill animals and eat meat, ending their starvation. They then use the tools to kill a leopard that had been preying on them; the next day, the main ape character, Moon-Watcher, uses a club to kill the leader of a rival tribe. Moon-Watcher reflects that though he is now master of the world, he is unsure of what to do next—but he will think of something. The book suggests that the monolith was instrumental in awakening intelligence, and enabling the transition of the ape-men to a higher order, with the ability to fashion crude tools and thereby be able to hunt and forage for food in a much more efficient fashion. The book then leaps eons to the year 1999, detailing Dr. Heywood Floyd's travel to Clavius Base on the Moon. Upon his arrival, Floyd attends a meeting. A lead scientist explains that they have found a magnetic disturbance in Tycho, one of the Moon's craters, designated Tycho Magnetic Anomaly One, or TMA-1. An excavation of the area has revealed a large black slab; it is precisely fashioned to a ratio of exactly 1:4:9, or 1²:2²:3²—that is to say that the thickness of the slab is exactly 1/4th of its width and 1/9th of its height. Such a construction rules out any naturally-occurring phenomena, and at three million years of age, it was not crafted by human hands. It is the first evidence for the existence of extraterrestrial intelligent life. Floyd and a team of scientists drive across the moon to actually view TMA-1. They arrive just as sunlight hits upon it for the first time in three million years. It then sends a piercing radio transmission to the far reaches of the solar system. The signal is tracked to Iapetus, one of the many moons of Saturn, where an expedition is then planned to investigate.

The book leaps forward 18 months to 2001 to the Discovery One mission to Saturn. Dr. David Bowman and Dr. Francis Poole are the only conscious human beings aboard Discovery One spaceship. Their three other colleagues are in a state of suspended animation, to be awakened when they near Saturn. The HAL 9000, an artificially intelligent computer addressed as "Hal," maintains the ship and is a vital part of life aboard. While Poole is receiving a birthday message from his family back home, Hal tells Bowman that the AE-35 unit of the ship is going to malfunction. The AE-35 unit is responsible for keeping their communication dish aimed at Earth; without it, receiving support would be impossible. Poole takes one of the extra-vehicular pods and swaps the AE-35 unit. But when Bowman conducts tests on the AE-35 unit that has been replaced, he determines that there was never anything wrong with it. Poole and Bowman become suspicious at Hal's refusal to admit that there could be something wrong with his failure detection sensors. Hal then claims that the replacement AE-35 unit will fail. Poole and Bowman radio back to Earth; they are told that there is most definitely something wrong with Hal, and directs them to disconnect him for analysis. These instructions are interrupted as the signal is broken. Hal informs them that the AE-35 unit has malfunctioned.

Poole takes a pod outside the ship to bring in the failed AE-35 unit. As he is removing the unit, the pod, which he had left parked close by, on the ship's hull, begins moving toward him. He is powerless to move out of the way in time and is killed when his spacesuit is torn, exposing him to the vacuum of space. Bowman is shocked by Poole's death and is deeply distressed. He is unsure whether Hal, a machine, really could have killed Poole. He decides that he will need to wake up the other three astronauts. He has an argument with Hal, with Hal refusing to obey his orders to switch the hibernation pods to manual operation, insisting that Bowman is incapacitated. Bowman threatens to disconnect him if his orders are not obeyed, and Hal relents, giving him manual control to wake the sleeping scientists. But as Bowman begins to awaken his colleagues, he hears Hal open both airlock doors into space, venting the ship’s atmosphere. The pressure on board is rapidly dropping as the ship is equalizing with the vacuum of space. Bowman makes his way into a sealed emergency shelter which has an isolated oxygen supply and spare spacesuit. He then puts on the spacesuit and re-enters the ship, knowing Hal to be a murderer. Bowman then laboriously disconnects the computer, puts the ship back in order and manually re-establishes contact with Earth. He then learns that the true purpose of the mission is to explore Japetus, the third-largest moon of Saturn, in the hope of contacting the society that buried the monolith on the Moon.

Bowman learns that Hal had begun to feel guilty and conflicted about keeping the purpose of the mission from him and Poole, which ran contrary to his stated mission of gathering information and reporting it fully. This conflict had started to manifest itself in little errors. Given time, Hal might have been able to resolve this crisis peacefully, but when he was threatened with disconnection, he panicked and defended himself out of a belief that his very existence to be at stake, having no concept of the state of sleep. Bowman spends months on the ship, alone, slowly approaching Japetus. A return to Earth is now out of the question, as Hal's sudden decompression of Discovery severely damaged the ship's air filtration system, leaving Bowman with far less breathable air than either returning to Earth or waiting for a rescue ship would require, and hibernation is impossible without Hal to monitor it. During his long approach, he gradually notices a small black spot on the surface of Iapetus. When he gets closer, he realizes that this is an immense black monolith, identical in shape to TMA-1, only much larger. The scientists back on Earth name this monolith "TMA-2," which name Bowman points out is a double misnomer because it is not on the moon and gives off no magnetic force whatsoever.

He decides to go out in one of the extra-vehicular pods to make a closer inspection of the monolith. Programmed for just such an occurrence, the monolith reveals its true purpose as a star gate when it opens and pulls in Bowman's pod. Before he vanishes, Mission control hears him proclaim: "The thing's hollow—it goes on forever—and—oh my God—it's full of stars!"

Bowman is transported via the monolith to a star system far outside our galaxy. During this journey, he goes through a large interstellar switching station, and sees other species' spaceships going on other routes; he dubs it the 'Grand Central Station' of the universe. (This is rather different from the film, which portrayed the entire journey as surreal.) He is brought to what appears to be a nice hotel suite, carefully constructed from monitored television transmissions, and designed to make him feel at ease. Bowman goes to sleep. As he sleeps, his mind and memories are drained from his body, and he is made into a new immortal entity, a Star Child, that can live and travel in space. The Star Child then returns to our Solar System and to Earth. Once there, he destroys the many thermonuclear weapons threatening the very survival of the human species. Like Moon-Watcher three million years before him, the Star Child is now master of the world and uncertain what to do next—but as Moon-Watcher eventually did, the Star Child too will think of something.

About the Author Arthur C Clarke

Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, CBE (16 December 1917–19 March 2008) was a British science fiction author, inventor, and futurist, most famous for the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, written in collaboration with director Stanley Kubrick, a collaboration which led also to the film of the same name; and as a host and commentator in the British television series Mysterious World.

Clarke served in the Royal Air Force as a radar instructor and technician from 1941-1946, proposed satellite communication systems in 1945 which won him the Franklin Institute Stuart Ballantine Gold Medal in 1963 and a nomination in 1994 for a Nobel Prize, and 1999 for literature , and became the chairman of the British Interplanetary Society from 1947-1950 and again in 1953. Later, he helped fight for the preservation of lowland gorillas. He won the UNESCO-Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science in 1961.

Clarke was knighted in 1998. He emigrated to Sri Lanka in 1956 largely to pursue his interest in scuba diving, and lived there until his death.

Biography

Clarke was born in Minehead, Somerset, England.As a boy he enjoyed stargazing and reading old American science fiction pulp magazines. After secondary school and studying at Huish's Grammar School, Taunton, he was unable to afford a university education and got a job as an auditor in the pensions section of the Board of Education.

During the Second World War he served in the Royal Air Force as a radar specialist and was involved in the early warning radar defence system, which contributed to the RAF's success during the Battle of Britain. Clarke spent most of his wartime service working on Ground Controlled Approach (GCA) radar as documented in the semi-autobiographical Glide Path, his only non-science-fiction novel. Although GCA did not see much practical use in the war, it proved vital to the Berlin Airlift of 1948–1949 after several years of development. Clarke initially served in the ranks, and was a Corporal instructor on radar at No 9 Radio School, RAF Yatesbury. He was commissioned as a Pilot Officer (Technical Branch) on 27 May 1943. He was promoted Flying Officer on 27 November 1943. He was appointed chief training instructor at RAF Honiley and was demobilised with the rank of Flight Lieutenant. After the war he earned a first-class degree in mathematics and physics at King's College London.In the postwar years, Clarke became the chairman of the British Interplanetary Society from 1947-1950 and again in 1953. Although he was not the originator of the concept of geostationary satellites, one of his most important contributions may be his idea that they would be ideal telecommunications relays. He advanced this idea in a paper privately circulated among the core technical members of the BIS in 1945. The concept was published in Wireless World in October of that year. Clarke also wrote a number of non-fiction books describing the technical details and societal implications of rocketry and space flight. The most notable of these may be The Exploration of Space (1951) and The Promise of Space (1968). In recognition of these contributions the geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometres (22,000 mi) above the equator is officially recognized by the International Astronomical Union as a Clarke Orbit.

In 1953 Clarke met and quickly married Marilyn Mayfield, a 22-year-old American divorcee with a young son. They separated permanently after six months, although the divorce was not finalised until 1964. "The marriage was incompatible from the beginning", says Clarke. Clarke never remarried but was close to Leslie Ekanayake, who died in 1977. Journalists who inquired of Clarke whether he was gay were told, "No, merely mildly cheerful." However, Michael Moorcock has written. Everyone knew he was gay. In the 1950s I'd go out drinking with his boyfriend. We met his proteges, western and eastern, and their families: people who had only the most generous praise for his kindness. Self-absorbed he might be, and a teetotaller, but an impeccable gent through and through. It also exists a vast collection of manuscripts and personal memoirs written by Clarke, referred to as the "Clarkives", which will not be published before 2058, 50 years after his death.

Writing career

While Clarke had a few stories published in fanzines, between 1937 and 1945, his first professional sales appeared in Astounding Science Fiction in 1946: "Loophole" was published in April, while "Rescue Party", his first sale, was published in May. Along with his writing Clarke briefly worked as Assistant Editor of Science Abstracts (1949) before devoting himself to writing full-time from 1951 onward. Clarke also contributed to the Dan Dare series published in Eagle, and his first three published novels were written for children. Clarke corresponded with C. S. Lewis in the 1940s and 1950s and they once met in an Oxford pub, The Eastgate, to discuss science fiction and space travel. Clarke, after Lewis's death, voiced great praise for him, saying the Ransom Trilogy was one of the few works of science fiction that could be considered literature.

In 1948 he wrote "The Sentinel" for a BBC competition. Though the story was rejected it changed the course of Clarke's career. Not only was it the basis for A Space Odyssey, but "The Sentinel" also introduced a more mystical and cosmic element to Clarke's work. Many of Clarke's later works feature a technologically advanced but prejudiced mankind being confronted by a superior alien intelligence. In the cases of The City and the Stars (and its original version, Against the Fall of Night), Childhood's End, and the 2001 series, this encounter produces a conceptual breakthrough that accelerates humanity into the next stage of its evolution. In Clarke's authorized biography, Neil McAleer writes that: "many readers and critics still consider [Childhood's End] Arthur C. Clarke's best novel."

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