And because, in all the Galaxy, they had found nothing more precious than Mind, they encouraged its dawning everywhere. They became farmers in the fields of stars; they sowed, and sometimes they reaped.
And sometimes, dispassionately, they had to weed.
-On the Firstborn
3001: The Final Odyssey, continues and concludes the Odyssey saga. Unlike the other three, this is very much a character driven book, as opposed to plot driven. While there are events occurring, it’s really a book on where humanity may be a thousand years from now. (I guess Clarke didn’t want to have history roll over his speculations this time!)
The story opens with the recovery of an astronaut frozen in space (possibly just beyond the solar system); amazingly enough, it is the body of Frank Poole (lost in space since the first book)! Poole is revived, and begins the long process of becoming acclimated to the many changes in both Earth and the rest of the solar system, including the fact that there’s a new sun out there! But eventually, he discovers a desire to complete a mission started a thousand years ago, and return to Jupiter (well, Lucifer now). Of course, ever present in these books are the monoliths, and the mysterious purpose behind them.
Clarke spends a good deal of time exploring Earth in this book, or at least some of what must have been many changes in the past one thousand years. Clarke’s Law certainly applies here, where any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Poole finds himself frequently surprised by the changes in both technology and society in general-and for the most part, all are positive developments, even though the path to get here has not always been smooth.
It’s in space, though, that the real fun begins. Poole’s return to this region of space begins a race against time, as he encounters-beyond expectations-a pair of old friends (?), and discovers that a long delayed message is about to arrive, one with potential terrifying consequences….
In many ways, I liked this book. It’s not action oriented at all, though, so folks who want that better look elsewhere. I enjoyed reading about the advances in technology and the way that technology changed humanity for the better (although some of the advances aren’t my cup of tea, but then, I’m a thousand years behind). The finale almost disappointed me, although I won’t spoil anything here-it seemed almost prosaic, and it soured me on the book…until I read the last page of the story. Pointlessly cruel to toss that page in there on the Final Odyssey! (heheh)
All in all, though, it’s a good wrap up to the Space Odyssey books, and closes the book on the story of the monoliths. Much thanks to Arthur C. Clarke for writing these books! They were good reads, especially for someone who was once very interested in astronomy and what might be out there in the stars.