A real odyssey is upon to hit ReadWithStyle. For the next four blogposts I am going to take you on an amazing journey through our galaxy and beyond. I have already made the first step, with Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001 A Space Odyssey (1968).

Arthur C. Clarke is a British science-fiction writer, inventor, and futurist. Together with Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein, he is one of the “Big Three” of science-fiction. Two somewhat contrary views make up the basis to understanding Clarke’s literature – religion and paranormal phenomena. Although themes of religion and spirituality indeed appear in his works, the author’s view is somewhat unconventional. He regards the path to knowledge as the path to God (or to reality). Combined with his long life fascination with paranormal phenomena, Clarke creates a Utopian world, where the evolution of intelligent species would make them closer to gods. In his novels, the British genius depicts a world with highly developed technology, ecology, and society. The author’s ideals are clear – only highly intelligent individuals are able to understand the complexity of the Universe and its endless power. In that complicated sense, religion and paranormality interact to arrive at one of the most fascinating chef doeuvre of world literature – A Space Odyssey.

2001 A Space Odyssey is the result of a collaboration between two great minds – the mind of the science-fiction writer Clarke and the mind of the director Stanley Kubrick. The novel was actually published AFTER the movie screening.

The novel begins nearly 3 million years BC when an extraintelligent alien race uses a mechanism in the form of a crystalline monolith to search and encourage the development of life across the universe. One of these monoliths prompts the ancient predecessors of the human race, the hominids, to discover tools and to put the beginning of the dominance of the people over the rest of the species on the Earth. Clarke then takes us to 1999, when a group of scientists discovers a weird magnetic disturbance on the Moon. The large black object, upon contact with the Sun, sends a signal transmission to the Universe, most specifically to Japetus, one of Saturn’s moons. What petrifies the discoverers of the object is that its dimensions are in the perfect ratio of 1:4:9 and it is dated more than 3 million years ago. The conclusion is implacable: the monolith is a proof of the existence of extraterrestrial life long before the human beings populate the Earth.

2 years later, a space ship is sent on a secret mission to Japetus to search for life or any remains of it there. After tragic incidents the only survivor is the captain of the ship, Dr David Bowman. Upon reaching Japetus, Bowman discovers another monolith, similar to the one of the Moon. This monolith is a Star Gate to other galaxies. Absorbed by its power, Bowman is taken through a pathway of stars into a universe far away from the Solar system. After falling asleep in an artificially created calm and familiar atmosphere, Bowman is reborn a Star Child, an immortal species with abilities to live and travel through spaces. All of his memories are carefully stored in the galaxy and he is returning to the Earth with new, unknown and unbelievable powers. His arrival coincides with the greatest disaster upon to hit the world, a disaster caused by the USSR and the USA which nearly destroyed the world as we know it. After preventing it ( I sense you all know what I am talking about), the Star Child is up to anything. And I can’t wait to see where Arthur Clarke is going to take us.

The British author has an imagination as vast as the universe itself. Clarke takes us from ancient to present times with a steady hand, explaining vividly the course of evolution not only so far but in the years to come as well. The perils of technology and the nuclear race, the importance of knowledge and development, the dangers of creating uncontrollable technology and the capacities and shortcomings of the human mind are all themes that make 2001 A Space Odyssey a science-fiction novel hard to be forgotten. Immersed by Clarke’s world, I travelled million of kilometers only by sitting comfortably in my couch. I sense the journey is just beginning as the three novels to follow are surely to be as provocative, as enthralling, and as intellectually stimulating as the first one. Do not miss this experience.