3001: The Final Odyssey

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3001: The Final Odyssey (1997) is a science fiction novel by Arthur C. Clarke, fourth and final book in the Space Odyssey series.

3001 follows the adventures of Frank Poole, an astronaut who was murdered by HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey. His body is discovered after drifting in space for a millennium and brought back to life, exposure to vacuum having preserved him sufficiently for the advanced medical technology of the time to be able to revive him. He then explores the Earth of 3001, notable features of which are the BrainCap, a technology which interfaces computers directly with the human brain, and a large network of space elevators and habitats in Earth orbit. Many readers have surmised that this future is at least close to Clarke's personal vision of Utopia.

In the time since 2061: Odyssey Three, the monolith in Africa (dubbed TMA-0) which kickstarted human evolution has been discovered. In the course of the novel, it is determined that following the events of 2001 the Jupiter monolith sent a report back to its "superior" 500 light years away and is about to receive its orders on how to deal with humanity (since the report would take 500 years to reach the superior, and the orders 500 years to come back). There is worry that the judgement, based on the primitive humanity of 2001, will be negative. The human race, then, may be in imminent danger of destruction - like the destruction of the primitive lifeforms found by David Bowman in the atmosphere of Jupiter, for the burgeoning Europans. Frank manages to conscript Bowman and HAL, now entities stored in the monolith's computational matrix, to help infect the monolith with a computer virus, averting this disaster. However, Bowman and HAL, being essentially part of the Monolith itself, are infected, and thus cannot be freed without unleashing the viruses that were uploaded to it (their final transmission being "If we are unable to download, remember us").

This portrayal of the monoliths is notably different from that in the earlier novels. In particular, the 2001 monolith was capable of faster-than-light transmission, and was generally portrayed as both less malevolent and more of a thinking entity than the one seen in this novel (in particular, Dave Bowman's transcendence as a star child is explained as a mundane case of being uploaded into a computer). However, since 2010: Odyssey Two Clarke has consistently stated that each of the Odyssey novels takes place in its own separate parallel universe -- this is demonstrated by the fact that the monoliths are still in existence in the year 20,001 at the end of 2010: Odyssey Two.

Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

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