In 3001, the human race has, unbelievably, survived, living in fear of the trio of monoliths that dominate the solar system. Then a small hope flickers to life. The body of Frank Poole, thought dead for a thousand years, is recovered from the deep frozen reaches of the galaxy. Restored to conscious life, Poole prepares himself to resume the voyage that HAL terminated a thousand years ago. He knows he can't go ahead without Dave. But first he must understand the truth of what Bowman and HAL have become. . .
First of all I must admit that it's been a lot of years since I read 2001 and 2010 and that I never got around to reading 2061. My feelings about Clarke being what they are, I've always had the feeling that I wasn't missing anything, but when one of my friends trust this book into my hands saying that it was worth reading, I decided to take the chance (and I didn't have anything else to read). Not that it's that big a chance – the book is about 250 pages, with a generous line spacing. That's 250 pages if you don't count the epilogue and the "free" preview of Wil McCarthy's Bloom. There should be a law forcing publishers to make it clear on the cover of the book that a good part of the pages is not the story you are paying for but an advertisement for another book. In the old days, this book would only have been about 180 pages.
Anyway, the story it self is interesting enough – it takes place in 3001 (as you had probably already guessed) and the main character is … Frank Poole! Yes, that guy that was "lost in space" in 2001. The story starts with Poole being found somewhere on the border of our solar system and through the miracle science of the future, he's revived nearly unscratched. The rest of the story is a voyage trough the world of 3001 as seen trough Poole's twenties century eyes. Non of the marvels of the year 3001 are really shocking and groundbreaking of you are fairly used to reading Science Fiction, but Clarke manages to paint a relatively detailed and interesting picture, by disregarding the story and concentrating on the painting it self. There is a story hidden in the book, but it's not the thing that makes the book interesting.
The ending is as stupid as it was in the recent movie (ID4) that used the exact same ending (I don't expect much from Hollywood but Clarke should have known better. And no, none of them stole the ending).
Written on 1st May 1999 by TC.
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