Book 30: 2001 A Space Odyssey

2001 A Space Odyssey

I read this on Kindle, so my meticulous note taking wont be reflected here.  Of personal interest to me was that I read two books that Stanley Kubrick converted to film back to back on my Kindle.  This wasn’t a conscious effort on my part, just that the two followed one another alphabetically by author.  It’s actually not fair to say that Kubrick adapted this book; reading the afterword taught me that Kubrick and Arthur C. Clark had actually worked together in planning the movie and the book, so much so that when the movie took a turn it would affect the course of the book.

I can’t imagine trying to write a book that way and I’m sure there’s another study that follows trying to do that, if nothing else it’s probably on the Commentary of the movie.  I wouldn’t know because I only have the movie on Blu-Ray and my Playstation 3 hasn’t worked since I’ve moved to South Carolina.  I’m good and pissed about that for a couple of reasons.  If I was going to be down here and unemployed I could at least have bummed around properly playing PS3, but no…  I have to play PS2.  First world problems, no?

I’m not a big fan of Kubrick, I guess I should say that up front.  The Shining scared the piss out of me, Dr. Strangelove, I’ll grant I love that movie, but I love it for Peter Sellers and you can’t give Kubrick credit for Sellers, except that he had enough wisdom not to try and reign him in.  Full Metal Jacket? I think the first half is perfect, but I don’t care about the second half.  That’s the thing about Stanley Kubrick, I think, is that his movies may be perfect from a filmmaking standpoint, but that doesn’t necessarily make them interesting.  This doesn’t really have anything to do with the book, I suppose, except that again, the two are intertwined.

The book is boring.  There is almost no action, except for Hal 9001 trying to kill the whole crew.  The study of Hal was fairly interesting and that’s why the knowledge of Hal permeates pop culture, because I knew who Hal was without seeing the movie, I assumed he had a bigger role in the book.  He doesn’t.  An artificial intelligence which breaks off of its programming is very interesting in the laws of robotics kind of way, especially when it gets into the primal being of self preservation.  The most interesting thing said in the book to me was when it was observed that Hal was threatened by earth saying that the ship may need to shut down Hal.  He took this as a hostile action because he’d never slept before, and since he’d never slept he didn’t know he could wake up.  I thought this was a very poignant observation.

There is an interesting statement about humanity in the book.  Twice in the book the it makes mention of the idea that eventually humanity could advance until it no longer needed bodies, and that would be the ultimate advancement of humanity was that it could transfer its brains and then its spirit into other forms.  HAL can be seen as the first step down that road, he is a homemade brain, who can exercise free will.  The book tells us that the aliens who eventually turn Dave into the Starchild had completed the same technology when they perfected space travel.  We see that, by HAL’s existence, humans are on the evolutionary path to becoming the same types of beings that sent the monolith to them in the first place.

So, yeah, I didn’t care for the book.  I’ll probably still watch the movie, but I can only hope to be pleasantly surprised.

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