Skip to main content

2061: Odyssey Three by Arthur C. Clarke

I read this in one day in the fall of 1987 when I should have been studying for an astronomy exam I had the next day. I've always been more interested by science fiction than by pure science. I couldn't put 2061: Odyssey Three down. The way Arthur C. Clarke played with the Beatles, "Lucy In The Sky with Diamonds" (as I was undergoing a temporary late adolescent Beatles phase), as it related to the comet featured in the novel, I found particularly fascinating.

The idea of landing on a comet may not have been the most original sci-fi plot device ever imagined, but at least the descriptions of what landing on a comet (and what a comet would look like) were creative and captivating ... unlike that horrible big bugdet blockbuster (but artistic bomb), Armageddon.

I'm surprised, on the one hand, by the relatively low average rating for 2061 I see on various book sites, and on the other, by Isaac Asimov's high praise for this work. Yeah, it's a good read, Ike, but it's no Foundation or 2001. It was one of Clarke's last novels in which he still had something fresh and inspiring to say.

As for that astronomy test ?  C+

Not bad, I'd say, (not great, but not bad, okay!?) considering I spent the day reading a solid science fiction novel rather than studying about (what?! the freaking cosmos?! a lot of good that's done me in "real life") like I should've been doing.


Popular posts from this blog

A Brief introduction to the Novels of Khwaja Ahmad Abbas

The majority of the material for this post is taken from Contemporary Novelists, 3rd Ed., Edited by James Vinson, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1982

Khwaja Ahmad Abbas (1914-1987)

There's only eight books of K.A. Abbas cataloged in LibraryThing (five or six different works).  He's virtually forgotten in the United States, though still revered in Indian literary circles.

On highbrow literary critics in India, Abbas said they "have sometimes sneeringly labelled my novels and short stories as 'mere journalese'. The fact that most of them are inspired by aspects of the contemporary historical reality, as sometimes chronicled in the press, is sufficient to put them beyond the pale of literary creation.

"I have no quarrel with the critics. Maybe I am an unredeemed journalist and reporter, masquerading as a writer of fiction. But I have always believed that while the inner life of man undoubtedly is, and should be, the primary concern of literature, thi…

Guest Post: Farewell to Manzanar reviewed by Mac McCaskill

"Mountain now loosens rivulets of tears.
Washed stones, forgotten clearing."
 —Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston

When my father was a boy, he learned that he’d been adopted by the man whom he’d thought was his father. Digging through a dusty trunk in his attic, he found legal documents that gave him the name he wore and the father he knew, but also uncovering an origin that had been hidden from him.

His mother was, by all accounts, a volatile woman — her siblings called her “the hornet” because her sting was quick and painful. She was a hard woman, and reticent to either acknowledge or divulge anything about his biological father. Over the years, he eventually learned from other relatives that she met Mr. Black — it was his name, but also a metaphor for much more — in a late 1920’s dance hall. He left her pregnant, taking whatever money he could get his hands hand on when he went.

Late in his life, after his mother died, my dad started quizzing other relatives for information about Mr…

Guest Post: Play It As It Lays reviewed by Joseph Brinson

You know, I began a try at this review writing about Iago in Othello and the nature of evil.

And about ennui and apathy.

And that the answer is: nothing.

And how I felt deep empathy for Maria.

And then I deleted it all.

This is my review: This novel depressed the fuck out of me.

That, and giving it four stars, should sum it up.

Joseph Brinson (a.k.a., "Quixada"), a poet and a longtime online pal, made me fucking howl when I first read his deadpanned piece on Play It As It Lays years and years ago.  Yes, it is brief — yet is playfully, skillfully thorough. His homage still slays me today.