The evolution for 2001 began in 1948, when Arthur C. Clarke submitted a short story, “The Sentinel,” for a competition held by the British Broadcasting Company (BBC). Although the story was rejected, Clarke later proposed it as the basis for filmmaker Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). The two visionaries met following Kubrick’s release of Dr. Strangelove: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) and set out to make a realist science-fiction film. Early in the process, it was decided that the story should be written in novel format and then adapted to a screenplay. Clarke and Kubrick initially worked on the novel together, but Kubrick’s need to prepare for film production ultimately left Clarke finishing the novel alone. Still, Kubrick’s influence is felt throughout, both in the deliberate pace of the plot and in clearly cinematic descriptive passages. Because of the story’s symbiosis, it is nearly impossible to analyze Clarke’s novel without acknowledging Kubrick’s film and vice versa.
By the time of the film’s and book’s releases in 1968, Clarke had already established himself as a peer among many of the great scientific minds, including Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov. Clarke was also heralded as one of the fathers of communications satellites, having proposed geostationary orbits in 1945 to maximize telecommunications coverage. He would later be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for this achievement, and he would be knighted in 1998 for services to literature.
The novel 2001 became the first book of a four-book cycle that continued with 2010: Odyssey Two (1982), 2061: Odyssey Three (1987), and 3001: The Final Odyssey (1997). In each novel, Clarke takes great care to adhere to the laws of physics and often successfully predicts future innovations. In 2001, for instance, Clarke’s portrayal of a space-shuttle launch and space-station dock proved to be largely accurate once such technologies came into use, as did Clarke’s description of...
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