Thursday, September 09, 2010

Arthur C. Clarke's '3001' - a book to read for the future

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - 3001, The Final Odyssey, is the last book in the late Arthur C. Clarke's series that started with 2001, A Space Odyssey, which was a hit in both book and film versions.

Arthur C. Clarke

Sadly, 3001 has never been made into a movie, but it should have been. Maybe it still will be.

It's not a new tome - it was published in 1997 - but somehow it escaped my attention at that time  (I was off sailing somewhere, no doubt). So finding it on the shelves of the lending library at the Oakland Yacht Club last weekend was especially rewarding.

The book fast forwards to the third millennium using the same literary device Washington Irving did in his classic story, Rip Van Winkle. In Clarke's case, however, astronaut Frank Poole has been unconscious (some would say dead) for 1,000 years.

It is science fiction, after all.

The idea works nicely as a way to catapult the reader into the future, with the past shown in snippets as Poole learns about what changes have happened to mankind, and what is left of the Solar System since 2001.

Some of it is pretty ugly, but even then fascinating.

Apes discover the first monolith in 2001, A Space Odyssey

And for those who remember the original book and film's black monoliths, they figure prominently in this volume, too, in ways that would be a spoiler to mention here.

If nothing else, in 3001, Clarke shows that he didn't give any creedence to doomsayers who see the apocalypse coming in 2012.

But then, he didn't in his book, 2061Odyssey Three, published in 1987, either.

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