The 1982 sequal-of-sorts to Arthur C. Clarke's science fiction 1968 classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, 2010: Odyssey Two attempts to continue and expand the story of mankind's search for alternative worlds. Insofar as the original story was written concurrent with Clarke's collaboration with film-maker Stanley Kubrick on the screenplay for the film version of 2001, the conceptual linkages between the two novels are somewhat tenuous. Clarke clearly hoped to resolve lingering questions about the fate of his main human protagonist from 2001, astronaut Dave Bowman, but the final product merely led to a book widely considered vastly inferior to the Kubrick-directed film.
2010: Odyssey Two, as noted, continues the story of mankind's search for meaningful life on or around the massive gaseous planet Jupiter. To be more precise, the explorers from Earth are focused on Jupiter's moons Io and Europa. While the earlier story employed mysterious monoliths as messages from some alien life form reaching out to Earth and intended to guide mankind's exploration of the universe, 2010 is more steeped in the Cold War politics that defined the period in which it was written. Clarke was cynical of the national security policies of the Reagan Administration, and used the notion of U.S.-Soviet cooperation on a fictional space project, not unlike the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz mission, to advance the idea of mutual survival vice mutual destruction. The threatening presence, then, comes not from Russians, but from Chinese. In any event, the monoliths continue to provide a linkage between those alien life forms and the humans the aliens seem determined to help. Also key to 2010, however, is the fate of Discover One, the spaceship from 2001 that was left abandoned by Bowman after the ship's omniscient computer, HAL 9000, malfunctions and murders Bowman's colleage, Francis Poole. Discover One remains in position near Jupiter, and the Russian and American astronauts of Discover Two, since transplanted to the Soviet ship Leonov, are expected to determine Discover One's fate, as well as the fate of Dave Bowman, who has survived in a more spiritual or cosmic sense than a human one.
In the end, Jupiter is transformed into a star and begins the violent transition that star's inevitably experience, but the aliens communicate to their human counterparts that the universe is their's (the humans) to explore and exploit, with the exception of Europa. As the novel reaches is finale, Clarke moves the story ahead 20,000 years when a new species has emerged while humans continue to deny the alien admonition against attempting to land on Europa.