A new millennium has dawned when mankind revisits the age-old question: Are we alone in the universe? The politically adept and publicly renowned scientist Heywood Floyd journeys to the moon to investigate a disconcertingly hush-hush incident. There he will discover the ancient extraterrestrial artifact that will rewrite the history of man. Code-named “TMA-1,” the imposing ebony monolith will launch Dave Bowman on his fateful journey to the moons of Jupiter, searching for other intelligent life – or perhaps something even greater.
The genre may be sci-fi, but 2001: A Space Odyssey reads as a vibrant romance for Coldplay’s “A Sky Full of Stars.” The vast expanse of space, here richly depicted by Arthur C. Clarke’s visual and analytical genius, captures human imagination to inspire an alternate future. We experience the world like never before, and the paths of destiny intertwine like the stuff of stellar color and matter. Man’s love for science seems to be finally explained.
With mad ideas just crazy enough to seem true, Clarke’s sashay into the depths of our solar system is as sensibly crafted as it is fantastic to behold. It’s been a while since 1967, when Clarke first placed pen to paper and Kubrick lens to camera (as 2001 was jointly produced that year as a novel and a film), but ironically, it doesn’t feel outdated. Humans have yet to reach Jupiter, or even Mars – sorry, Watney – keeping the thrills fresh and unexpected. The entire story unfolds like history itself, taking some faltering steps and other greater strides. Only a couple of villains keep stroking their chin in the corner.
My favorite part was the beginning. Clarke recreates the evolution of early man. The man-apes of millenniums ago leap off the page, grippingly, imbued with the first inklings of intelligent grace. And Hal 9000 remains arguably the most frightening ex machina since Alicia Vikander dehumanized in 2014. It takes only open eyes and a wider mind to appreciate the breathtaking beauty of a story in elevated gravity, one that ventures into the very heart of space and time. Tardis regardless, the date is set. We’ve got to go back to 2001 for that monolith.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.