The final installment of Clarke’s Odyssey series is a stronger read than the previous entry, and features yet another character from the first novel.
The solar system is easier to move around in now with advancements in engineering and spacecraft, and a ship recovers a body spinning in space, that of astronaut Frank Poole… and he’s resuscitated, only to find himself 1,000 years in the future, in a world he barely recognizes.
Everything has changed since we were last in the Odyssey Universe, a huge habitat ring encircles the Earth, accessible by four sky towers that have been built from the surface to orbit, thanks to some durable diamond film. Frank settles into life there, adapting to new technology, new ideas about religion, and accepting the idea that he’s a living treasure and legend, from the earliest days of space exploration.
But as time progresses, he begins to tire of his place in the world, and he wants more… He finds his way out to Europa, and what may be a final encounter with the Monolith, and the being that was once both Dave Bowman, and the Discovery’s onboard computer HAL.
Far from a seemingly joyous reunion, though with HAL and the way Bowman has changed, I’m not sure how that would be possible in the first place, HALman delivers a message to Frank. It’s possible that there may be something wrong with the Monolith, that it may be too old, that it may be breaking down, and it seems a report that was sent a millennium ago may be returning a verdict that may be sentencing not only the life blossoming on Europa by that of mankind as well.
It may fall upon the original flight team from Discovery to come up with a plan that may save humanity from extinction…
The final book in the series is a nice jump forward in the time line, and while filled with wonderous creations and a more positive look at our future, and the fact that we can survive the growing pains we are going through, I still found it liked the wonder and the mystery of the universe, the Monolith and the alien life that were hinted at in the first two books.
I was impatient for Poole to get out there and see the universe, to meet his destiny, but that only took up a small portion of the book, and while the rest of it did highlight some amazing things for humanity and the planet, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted from the series.
Still, it was a true joy to revisit this series again to travel with Bowman, Poole, Floyd and HAL again.
Who knows, perhaps there will be some more Clarke re-reads in the future?
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