It is fifty-one years after the events recounted in 2010: ODYSSEY TWO, which culminated in the mysterious black monolith’s creators detonating the planet Jupiter, forming a new sun (renamed Lucifer) and turning Jupiter’s moons into a new planetary system. The aliens conveyed only one message to the Russian spacecraft Leonov as it fled the new solar-system-within-a solar-system: ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS-- EXCEPT EUROPA. ATTEMPT NO LANDING THERE.
In the years that followed, an era of unequaled peace and prosperity flourished in the silent presence of the aliens. Man continued to expand slowly into the solar system, careful not to violate the alien’s injunction--until a report is received that a spaceship has crashed into Europa’s ocean and is floating helplessly. Heywood Floyd, head of the American contingent of the 2010 Leonov expedition--still hale and hearty after all these years because of the age-retarding effects of his zero-gravity orbiting rest home -- finds himself thrown into the action when the Halley’s comet expedition on which he has been invited is diverted onto a high-speed sprint to Europa and a rescue attempt.
It soon becomes evident that the landing was not an accident at all, but a planned mission aimed at discovering the nature of a stupendous mountain that had appeared suddenly on Europa’s cloud-shrouded surface, in defiance of all laws of geological evolution--a secret that turns out to be literally...
(The entire section is 413 words.)