It’s no secret to my friends that I’m an avid reader,
especially when it comes to sci-fiction and fantasy. So I thought to spice things up a
little, I’d do a book review or two. So my most recent purchase had been 2061 by Arthur C. Clarke.
It is fifty-one years after the events recounted in 2010: ODYSSEY TWO, which
culminated in the mysterious black monolith’s creators detonating the planet
Jupiter, forming a new sun (renamed Lucifer) and turning Jupiter’s moons into a
new planetary system. The aliens conveyed only one message to the Russian
spacecraft Leonov as it fled the new solar-system-within-a solar-system: ALL
THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS– EXCEPT EUROPA. ATTEMPT NO LANDING THERE.
In the years that followed, an era of unequalled peace and
prosperity flourished in the silent presence of the aliens. Man continued to
expand slowly into the solar system, careful not to violate the alien’s
injunction–until a report is received that a spaceship has crashed into
Europa’s ocean and is floating helplessly. Heywood Floyd, head of the American
contingent of the 2010 Leonov expedition–still hale and hearty after all these
years because of the age-retarding effects of his zero-gravity orbiting rest
home — finds himself thrown into the action when the Halley’s comet expedition
on which he has been invited is diverted onto a high-speed sprint to Europa and
a rescue attempt.
It soon becomes evident that the landing was not an accident
at all, but a planned mission aimed at discovering the nature of a stupendous
mountain that had appeared suddenly on Europa’s cloud-shrouded surface, in
defiance of all laws of geological evolution–a secret that turns out to be
Chris Floyd, Heywood’s grandson, and a South African
scientist, both on the crew of the downed ship, set out in its small shuttle to
explore the mysterious mountain. What they find could destroy the economy of
nations but could also provide a highway off the Earth and allow a massive
expansion of man into the solar system. Continuing their search, they find even
more: a giant monolith, unaccountably toppled on its side, brooding over a
small city built by the Europans, who, freed from their ice-encased oceans by
the warmth of Lucifer, are evolving rapidly under the monolith’s tutelage.
In the end, Heywood Floyd joins David Bowman and Hal (from
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY) on a strange mission in which Clarke’s imaginative time
machine moves farther into the future, to 3001, to an ominous event that
undoubtedly means another sequel.
In this book and its immediate predecessor, 2010, the themes
of 2001 have grown magnificently and beyond expectation. A book that will
please the scientist, the adventurer, and the metaphysician in all of us, it is
not to be missed.