The Discovery One’s mission to Jupiter ended in failure. None of the crew was recovered and the ship was left to float in space for nine years.
Now a joint Soviet-American crew including Heywood Floyd are on the Alexei Lenov are on a mission to investigate what happened on that earlier mission…and what exactly the odd black monolith that was in orbit around the planet had (if anything) to do with the failed mission.
While the American ship, the Discovery Two, is sent to investigate it is the Soviet ship that is quicker due to a new engine drive that will allow for higher speeds. So Floyd is sent along with the Soviet crew to revisit the issues on his last mission.
However, when a Chinese space station rockets out of the orbit of Earth on a trajectory to Jupiter too the mission is thrown into disarray.
What were the Chinese thinking with the speed they were going? Is it going to be a one way trip, or will they be able to refuel with the water on Europa? And how do the black monoliths figure into everything that seems to be going on with these space excursions? Are they friend, or foe?
-Author: Arthur C. Clarke
-Number of Pages: 290
-Main Characters: Dr. Heywood Floyd, Dr. Walter Curnow, Dr. Sivasubramanian Chandrasegarampillai (Dr. Chandra), Captain Tatiana “Tanya” Orlova, Dr. Vasili Orlov, Dr. Maxim Brailovsky, Surgeon Commander Katerina Rudenko, Dr. Alexander “Sasha” Kovalev, Dr. Nikolai Ternovsky, Zenia Marchenko, HAL 9000
-Where to Read: support local booksellers (many can order items that may not be in stock) or look for it at your local library! Also available on Audible if you enjoy audiobooks!
-Page of Reference in RP1: 107
Review (contains spoilers):
Ok…so this one just seemed weird.
There is a lot of underlying tension in it between America, the Soviet Union and China…which ill chalk up to the fact that it was written just as the Cold War was coming to one of its peaks…
There is some very odd stuff with the monoliths eating Jupiter…not really sure what that was all about…and honestly I’ve never been great with the allusions in science-fiction. I struggle to see what the bigger idea is. To me its really just what is on the page.
A new star is created, the Discovery One is destroyed…HAL is given a second life for all of its help. And there is new life on Europa. We do get to see how they are beginning to advance. It felt like a decent parallel to how we saw 2001 start with prehistoric humankind.
Overall, it’s a decently good science-fiction story. For me it really just was hard to get through, but I do chalk that up to the fact that I struggle with pure-science fiction novels (where as I love science-fantasy novels and almost every piece of science-fiction film I’ve ever gotten my hands on…no idea why the books are a struggle).
I can say I enjoyed 2001 quite a bit more. And this one more than the other two books in the “trilogy”…but more on that in a bit.