Sunday, 27 February 2011

2061 Odyssey Three - Arthur C. Clarke

There are no boundaries for human curiosity and imagination. Even after the unequivocal warning of the Europa extra terrestrial life not to land there, people were even more fascinated and impatient to explore the forbidden land. It took them half a century to successfully land on Jupiter's moon and to come closer to understanding the hostility of its natives.

Thanks to the advancement of technology, which allows him to live in an environment with a g 1/10 of the Earth g, Heywood Floyd, the famous scientist from the first two parts of the tetralogy, is still alive. At the age of 103 (but looking like a healthy 70-years-old grandfather) Floyd is among the 6 famous people invited to a space journey to the Halley's Comet. The purpose of this revolutionary initiative is to make Universe the first space ship to land on the comet. Meanwhile, investigations around the newly formed Sun, Lucifer (former Jupiter) continue. People have managed to build bases on some of its moons but still keep on a safe distance from the forbidden Europa.

That is until the scientist Van der Berg makes an unbelievable discovery of what actually constitutes mountain Zeus, the biggest mountain on Europa. This discovery, if known to the larger public will result into political and economic conflicts over supremacy. The essence of mountain Zeus is able to make its controller one of the richest people in the universe. Unfortunately, other people also discover that information. When the spaceship Galaxy is sent to analyze the space around Europa, a traitor forces its landing on the forbidden moon. People have outraged the warning given them by the extra terrestrial life. Galaxy cannot return to Earth and the crew spends its time floating in Europa's sees and hoping for rescue. Scientist Van der Berg and Floyd's grandson Chris go on a journey to the foot of the mountain to prove the discovery - the whole Zeus is a big diamond, which at the end of the novel disappears into the soil. However, scientists investigate the theory that the core of Jupiter and its moons also contain pieces of the precious metal. Will humanity be able to use this abundant resource or will the other civilizations hinder that. We just have to wait and see.

As for David Bowman, the Star Child, his continuing presence in space, and especially around the Earth missions proves his ever-lasting connection to the human civilization, Even though together with Sal, Bowman vanquishes to some unknown powerful civilization, he manifests personality and free will. The strange couple of energy is to be joined by one of the main characters at the end. What are the three up to and are they going to continue helping the strange black monolith spread knowledge in the galaxies?

What I like mostly about the tetralogy so far is Clarke's interpretation of the dawn of human civilization. The author portrays an alien form of life, which existed long before any life on earth. This civilization used the resource of reason and mind to develop, ultimately leaving behind its imperfect material part and living as energy in the universe. Then it started looking for worlds with the potential of hosting the emerging of another civilization. The strange black monoliths these energy-creatures positioned in various places in the universe prompted the species to evolve. One of this black blocks helped our ancient ancestors the hominids discover tools and eventually win supremacy over the rest of the species on Earth. This theory doesn't in anyway undermine Darwin. Indeed, it strengthens it since it shows only the strongest will adapt and survive. Clark just gives an idea about the initial push humanity needed to start the path towards progress that is lasting more than 3 million years now.

Definitely out of superlatives about Arthur Clarke. What I will just say is that the third part so far was the most enthralling. A nice break from talking about Jupiter and its moons and focusing on a largely unexploited topic - the Halley's comet and its eventual return in 2061. Most importantly, Clarke doesn't forget about the main line of narration and gives the reader bit by bit more information about the mysterious intellect that closely monitors the Earth and affects its development.

1 comment:

  1. Nice choice of words for the author
    Do you know of Philip K. Dick?