2010: Odyssey Two

From Academic Kids

2010: Odyssey Two, is a science fiction novel by Arthur C. Clarke (January 1982) and also a motion picture (1984) by Peter Hyams entitled simply 2010, or sometimes 2010: The Year We Make Contact. They are sequels to the novel and film of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The movie stars Roy Scheider, John Lithgow, Helen Mirren and Bob Balaban, with Keir Dullea and Douglas Rain reprising their roles from the original film as David Bowman and the voice of HAL 9000 respectively. After the enigmatic impact of the film of 2001, the film sequel was considered by many to be a disappointment. However, some viewers argue that if it is considered as a movie on its own, it remains more substantial than most other films of the genre.



Unlike 2001, the novel and the screenplay were not written simultaneously, but the film is thus not an adaptation in the conventional sense, as there are significant differences between the two. This synopsis summarises the plot of the novel, with the film's divergences noted in parentheses.

For both the book and the movie, the story is set nine years after the Discovery mission to Jupiter failed. Note that the novel version of 2001: A Space Odyssey featured the journey to Saturn instead: Clarke acknowledges this retroactive continuity in his author's foreword.

A joint Soviet-American crew, including Heywood Floyd from 2001, on the Soviet spaceship Alexei Leonov (named after the cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov) arrives to discover what went wrong with the earlier mission, to investigate the monolith in orbit around the planet, and to resolve the disappearance of David Bowman. They hypothesize that much of this information is locked away on the now-abandoned Discovery craft. The Soviets have an advanced new "Sakharov" drive (a reference to the physicist Andrei Sakharov) which will propel them to Jupiter first, so Floyd is assigned to the Leonov crew as part of a joint mission. However, a Chinese "space station" rockets out of Earth orbit, revealing itself to be an interplanetary spacecraft named the Tsien, which is also aimed at Jupiter. The Leonov crew comment on the kamikaze-like method of the Chinese team, but Floyd eventually surmises that due to the large water content of Europa, they are destined to land there and use the water content to refill their tanks. (The Tsien subplot only appears in the novel and was omitted from the film.)

The Leonov eventually docks with the Discovery, and Hal's creator, Dr. Chandra, on the mission, restarts the HAL 9000 computer to ascertain any information HAL has.

The Tsien's daring mission ends in failure, when it is destroyed by an indigenous life-form on Europa. The only survivor radios the story to the Leonov; it is presumed that he dies when his spacesuit air supply runs out. (In the film, the failed exploration of Europa is done by a space probe from the Leonov.)

A sequence of scenes follows the explorations of David Bowman, who has been transformed into a non-corporeal, energy-based life-form, much like the aliens controlling the monoliths. In the novel, the aliens use Bowman to explore beneath the ice of Europa, where they find aquatic life forms, and under the clouds of Jupiter, where they discover avian life forms. Both are primitive, but the aliens deem the Europan creatures to have greater evolutionary potential. In both the novel and the film, the avatar of Bowman travels to the Earth, making contact with significant individuals from his human past: he brushes his mother's hair, and he appears on his widow's television screen.

In the movie, political tensions on Earth between the U.S. and the Soviet Union escalate. The U.S. astronauts are ordered to leave the Leonov, as it is Soviet territory, and move to the Discovery.

An apparition of Bowman appears before Floyd (in the novel, shaping itself from dust), warning him that they must leave Jupiter within fifteen days. Floyd asks what will happen at that time and Bowman replies, "Something wonderful." Floyd has difficulty convincing the rest of the crew, at first, but a dark spot on Jupiter begins to form and starts growing. HAL's telescope observations reveal that the Great Dark Spot is in fact a vast population of monoliths, increasing at a geometric rate. (The film accelerates the pace, both shortening Bowman's deadline to two days and making the spot grow faster.)

The Leonov crew devises a plan to use the Discovery as a "booster rocket", enabling them to return to Earth ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, HAL and the Discovery will be trapped in Jupiter orbit, with insufficient fuel to escape. The crew are worried that the HAL will have the same neuroses on discovering that he will be abandoned yet again, and Chandra must convince HAL that the human crew is in danger.

The Leonov crew make a hasty exit from Jupiter, just in time to witness the swarm of Monoliths engulf Jupiter. Through a mechanism the novel only partially explains, these monoliths increase Jupiter's density until the planet achieves nuclear fusion, becoming a small star. In the novel, this obliterates the primitive life-forms which had inhabited the Jovian atmosphere, which the Monoliths' controllers had deemed less worthy than the aquatic life of Europa. (The film only depicts the Europan organisms.)

As the Leonov leaves Jupiter, HAL begins repeatedly broadcasting the message "ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS EXCEPT EUROPA. ATTEMPT NO LANDINGS THERE." (The movie version adds the words "USE THEM TOGETHER. USE THEM IN PEACE," as part of its heightened Cold War emphasis.) The new star, which Earth eventually dubs Lucifer, destroys Discovery entirely. HAL is transformed into the same kind of lifeform as David Bowman, and becomes Bowman's companion.


Discontinuities between 2001 and 2010

  • Both novel and film of 2010 follow the film of 2001 in locating the events at Jupiter, rather than Saturn (as in the 2001 novel).
  • In all of the Space Odyssey novels, HAL's instructor is named Dr. Chandra; in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, it is Mr. Langley.
  • The spacesuits in the film of 2010 look like modern NASA spacesuits and clash rather awkwardly with the 1960s-style spacesuits worn by the 2001 characters.
  • In the film version of 2010, Dr Floyd protests that he never authorised anyone to inform HAL of the TMA-1 monolith prior to the Discovery's mission to Jupiter. (HAL's homicidal behaviour in 2001 is explained as being a result of someone informing HAL of the true nature of the mission — to examine the TMA-1 monolith — while also being instructed to keep this information hidden from astronauts Poole and Bowman.) However, in the film version of 2001 astronaut Bowman, while attempting to disable HAL, sees a pre-recorded message from Dr. Floyd informing the crew of the monolith and the true purpose of the mission. In this message Dr. Floyd clearly states that HAL had been briefed on the TMA-1 before the Discovery left Earth (although some fanciful theories abound that this message from Floyd could have been faked by the government after Floyd refused to authorize them to reveal the mission to HAL).


  • Clarke's e-mail correspondence with Peter Hyams, director of the film 2010: The Year We Make Contact, was published in 1984. Entitled The Odyssey File: The Making of 2010, it illustrates his fascination with the then pioneering medium and his use of it to communicate with Hyams on an almost daily basis at the time of planning and production of the film. The book also includes Clarke's list of the top science fiction films ever made.
  • Clarke makes a cameo appearance in the film, as a man on a park bench outside the White House. Pictures of Clarke (as the U.S. president) and 2001 director Stanley Kubrick (as the Soviet leader) also appear on a magazine cover seen in the film.
  • Stanley Kubrick had the Discovery sets destroyed entirely, fearing that they could be recycled for some B-movie production; the 2010 art department had to rebuild them from photos and 2001 footage.
  • The sequel novel 2061: Odyssey Three handles the consequences of the warning and the subsequent breaking of the warning to save the lives of a hijacked crew.
  • In Babylon 5, the Earth Alliance Omega-class destroyers look very similar to the Leonov ship in this film, particularly the rotating section near the middle of the ship.

External link

Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke
sl:2010: Druga odiseja

sk:2010: Druhá vesmírna odysea


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