Minutes ago I finished reading Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. It is, undoubtedly, one of the best science fiction novels I have ever perused. It makes no bones about its status as allegory [which I, like Tolkien, have cordially disliked for some time]. But it does not strike me as an allegory about humanity as much as it is for humanity. The story is about universal potential. It also works as a good accompaniment to the film.
Sir Arthur deserves his knighthood for Contributions to Literature from this book alone. The writing is superb, concise, and poignant. He is able to keep a theme running for over three million years by the use of a simple symbol and a remarkable grasp on basic human impulses. Perhaps hardest to fully appreciate is Clarke’s intimation that an extrasolar entity is responsible for the the success of humanity. Although it could very well seem insulting to standard man-ape that we are merely an experiment, Clarke somehow manages to convince the reader to be proud that we are an experiment — mostly because we are a successful one.
This is definitely a book I plan on purchasing at the next available opportunity.