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2010: Odyssey Two is a best-selling science fiction novel by Arthur C. Clarke, which was published in January 1982. It is the sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey and was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1983. The novel was adapted for the screen and released as a film in 1984.

Clarke peppered the novel with names of various Soviet dissidents, including physicists Andrei Sakharov and Yuri Orlov, human-rights activists Mykola Rudenko and Anatoly Marchenko, Russian Orthodox activist Gleb Yakunin, among others. Clarke himself makes a reference to "getting (Vasili Zharchenko) into deep trouble by borrowing the names of various dissidents" in 2061: Odyssey Three.

Plot summary

Unlike 2001: A Space Odyssey, the novel and the screenplay were not written simultaneously, and there are significant differences between the two.

(A part of this novel has similarities with a much-older short story by Clarke, "History Lesson"; the plot involves superfast evolution on a world just made habitable.)

In both the book and the movie, the story is set nine years after the failure of the Discovery One mission to Jupiter.

A joint Sovietmarker-Americanmarker crew, including Heywood Floyd from 2001, on the Soviet spaceship Alexei Leonov (named after the famous cosmonaut) arrives to discover what went wrong with the earlier mission, to investigate the monolith in orbit around the planet, and to resolve the disappearance of David Bowman. They hypothesize that much of this information is locked away on the now-abandoned Discovery One. The Soviets have an advanced new "Sakharov" drive which will propel them to Jupiter ahead of the American Discovery Two, so Floyd is assigned to the Leonov crew.

However, a Chinese space station rockets out of Earth orbit, revealing itself to be the interplanetary spacecraft Tsien, also aimed at Jupiter. The Leonov crewmembers think the Chinese are on a one-way trip due to its speed, but Floyd surmises that due to the large water content of Europa they intend to land there and use the water content to refuel. The Tsien's daring mission ends in failure, when it is destroyed by an indigenous life-form on Europa. The only survivor radios the story to the Leonov; it is presumed that he dies when his spacesuit air supply runs out.

The Leonov survives a dangerous aerobraking around Jupiter and arrives at Discovery. Mission crewmember and HAL 9000's creator, Dr. Chandra, reactivates the computer to ascertain the cause of his earlier aberrant behavior.

A sequence of scenes follows the explorations of David Bowman, who has been transformed into a non-corporeal, energy-based life-form, much like the aliens controlling the monoliths. During his journey, the avatar of Bowman travels to Earth, making contact with significant individuals from his human past: He visits his mother and brushes her hair (shortly before she dies), and he appears to his ex-girlfriend on her television screen. In the novel, the aliens are using Bowman as a probe to learn about humankind. He then returns to the Jupiter system to explore beneath the ice of Europa, where he finds aquatic life-forms, and under the clouds of Jupiter, where he discovers gaseous life-forms. Both are primitive, but the aliens deem the Europan creatures to have evolutionary potential.

An apparition of Bowman appears before Floyd, warning him that they must leave Jupiter within 15 days. Floyd has difficulty convincing the rest of the crew at first, but then the monolith vanishes from orbit and a mysterious dark spot on Jupiter begins to form and starts growing. HAL's telescope observations reveal that the "Great Black Spot" is, in fact, a vast population of monoliths, increasing at a geometric rate, which appear to be eating the planet.

The Leonov crew devises a plan to use the Discovery as a "booster rocket", enabling them to return to Earth ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, HAL and the Discovery will be trapped in Jupiter's orbit, with insufficient fuel to escape. The crew are worried that HAL will have the same neuroses on discovering that he will be abandoned yet again, and Chandra must convince HAL that the human crew is in danger.

The Leonov crew flees Jupiter as the swarm of monoliths spread to engulf the planet. Through a mechanism the novel only partially explains, these monoliths increase Jupiter's density until the planet achieves nuclear fusion, becoming a small star. In the novel, this obliterates the primitive life forms inhabiting the Jovian atmosphere, which the Monoliths' controllers had deemed less worthy than the aquatic life of Europa.

As Jupiter is about to transform, Bowman returns to Discovery to give HAL a last order to carry out. HAL begins repeatedly broadcasting the message "ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS EXCEPT EUROPA. ATTEMPT NO LANDINGS THERE." The creation of the new star, which Earth eventually names Lucifer, destroys Discovery. However, HAL's artificial intelligence is removed from Discovery's computer core and transformed into the same kind of life form as David Bowman, and becomes his companion.


The book ends with a brief epilogue, which takes place in AD 20,001. By this time, the Europans have evolved into a species that has developed a primitive civilization, most likely with assistance from a monolith. They are not described in detail, though they are said to have "tendril"-like limbs. They regard the star Lucifer (formerly the planet Jupiter) as their primary Sun, referring to Sol as "The Cold Sun". Though their settlements are concentrated primarily in the hemisphere of Europa which is constantly bathed in Lucifer's rays, some Europans have begun in recent generations to explore the Farside, the hemisphere facing away from Lucifer, which is still covered in ice. There they may witness the spectacle of night, unknown on the other side of Europa, when the Cold Sun sets.

The Europans who explore the Farside have been carefully observing the night sky and have begun to develop a mythology based on their observations. They correctly believe that Lucifer was not always there. They believe that the Cold Sun was its brother and was condemned to march around the sky for a crime. The Europans also see three other major bodies in the sky. One seems to be constantly engulfed in fire, and the other two have lights on them which are gradually spreading. These three bodies are the moons Io, Callisto, and Ganymede, the latter two of which are presently being colonized by humans.

Humans have been attempting to explore Europa ever since Lucifer was created in 2010. However, none of these attempts has been successful. Every probe that has attempted to land on Europa has been destroyed in the atmosphere; as it is later shown in 2061 and 3001 manned spacecraft that attempt to land have been instead diverted by an external force. The debris from every probe falls to the surface of the planet, and the debris from some of the first ships to be destroyed is venerate by the Europans.

Finally, there is a Monolith on the planet, which is worshipped by the Europans more than anything else. The Europans assume, correctly, that the Monolith is what keeps humans at bay. Dave Bowman and HAL lie dormant in this Monolith. The Monolith is the guardian of Europa, and will continue to prevent contact between humans and Europans for as long as it sees fit.

Discontinuities between 2010 and the other works

  • When Bowman recalls the events of 2001, he remembers the incident of chasing after Frank Poole's corpse in a pod without his helmet, and then entering the Discovery through the emergency airlock. This incident only occurred in the film, whereas in the novel HAL opened all of the pod bay doors and emergency airlock when Bowman was in the pod bay in an attempt to space him.
  • In all of the Space Odyssey novels and the film version of 2010, HAL's instructor is named Dr. Chandra; in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, it is Mr. Langley.
  • In 3001: The Final Odyssey, the Leonov mission is said to have taken place in the 2040s.
  • Also in 3001: The Final Odyssey, the Monoliths appear to have been defeated, at least within our own Solar System, rendering the events in 20,001 (at the end of the 2010 novel) moot — however, perhaps after this time it is equally possible that the Monoliths might have returned, but it is equally possible that they should not have.


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