The recently published 3001: The Final Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke, is the fourth in a long and well-noted line of books bearing the Odyssey name. When 2001: A Space Odyssey was released in the late '60s, the special effects sparked the imagination of a generation, along with an interesting plot and questions left by the hulking, black monolith at the end of the movie. Some of these questions were answered in 2010: Odyssey Two and its sequel, 2061. The Final Odyssey answers all prior questions and adds a few of its own.
Like 2001, 3001: The Final Odyssey attempts to predict humanity's future, this time trying to scope the details of an entire millennium of our future - which, unfortunately, does not work out very well. The best science-fiction novels which presume to know the future have always either used great stretches of time and/or left the details fairly vague or simply projected short periods into the future. Clarke's book, though using an admirable amount of imagination in prediction, leaves one doubting the validity of his predictions because of his intimate details. Though some details (such as an amusing reference to the 20th century suggesting that all young boys growing up in that era watched "all the Jurassic movies") are in our immediate future and Mr. Crichton will probably squeeze Jurassic Park and its sequels for all they're worth. This simply doesn't live up to the grandiose time scale he used.
This, however, is not to say that 3001 is a bad book, though occasionally skimpy on details, and, at several points, one might need to reread sections because they seem slightly confusing. But Clarke's writing is for the most part good and his storyline is interesting. It keeps the reader's attention and elaborates on hints given in previous novels and movies.
Unfortunately, the book is used mostly as an answer to questions posed in previous novels - not so much setting forth on a new tale but using the technology of the future to build the plot and using the answers to the questions from previous books to build a climax. That isn't to say that someone who hasn't read them couldn't read 3001 and make sense of it, it's just that if you haven't read them, the answers provided as the climax for 3001 won't make much sense and will probably leave the reader with a feeling of disappointment.
In short, the book is fairly good, but a bit on the bland side. The characters show only moderate depth, the plot builds on previous novels, and the predictions are a little shaky. However, if you are a fan of Clark, this is recommended - though not necessarily for $25, a recommended purchase
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.