2001: A Space Odyssey Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of 2001: A Space Odyssey

The story begins with a sort of prologue, it speaks of a group of man-apes. They usually only eat plants, nuts, berries etceteras. But one day something strange happens. An object arises from the skies and settles in the ape territory. At night, the rectangle shaped object hypnotises the apes and orders them to come to it.
Click here to see the rest of this review

When all the apes have arrived it learns them how to use objects to advance their way of living, and give evolution a push. When the session is over the apes return to normal, but now they have their skill of tools. They use their skill to hunt down animals, and so gain a place on top of the food-chain. Now they don't have to be hungry again. And the evolution can take place. (Now the story goes three million years ahead).

Heywood Floyd is a respected astronaut and space-expert. He is on a mission to the moon, sector Tycho. Heywood is directed through the moonbase and gets to ride a moonbus. There is something up that no one would have dared to dream of. While scanning the Tycho-environment something weird is noticed. The magnetic field in the Tycho-canyon is very strange, it is very large and abnormal, but there is no natural cause. So the team starts digging. What they find is absolutely astonishing. It is a cubicle, five feet high, made of an unknown material. The crew doesn't have a moment to overcome this remarkable happening when suddenly a burst of energy leaves the cubicle. All the sensors and electronic equipment go berserk. Later appears that all the Earth's sensors throughout the solar system recorded this blast of energy. But the most peculiar about it is that the beam points directly to Saturn. (Now the story
leaves Heywood and turns over to Dave Bowman and Frank Poole.)

Dave and Frank are sent on a voyage to Jupiter with their ship the Discovery. The Discovery is run by a genius computer called Hal 9000. They arrive at Jupiter and are about to perform their first roundabout. They will lose contact with Earth for an hour. When they turn face to face with Earth again something strange happens. HAL reports a failure. He says that a fragment of the radar, that can point to Earth with a precision of a thousands of a degree, is broken and needs to be fixed within seventy-two hours or contact with Earth will collapse. Frank is the extra-vehicular expert, so he will leave Discovery and fix the device. When he has replaced the broken fragment and Frank and Dave have researched the broken fragment, they get a real shock. The fragment is not broken. HAL has lied! Dave and Frank won't be able to follow HAL his orders again. But HAL says that the fault is really a fault. Although the fault is not in the fragment, it will be in the whole structure. Dave and Frank presume this is right and go on. They report HAL his strange notice to Earth and go on.

But a week later HAL reports another failure in the radar system. Frank and Dave talk this strange incident over and decide to give it another check. Frank leaves Discovery again and in his space-pod he travels towards the radar. He leaves his pod to alter the radar manually. But HAL throttles the pod at full speed towards Frank and kills him. Dave is astonished and can't trust HAL again. But HAL goes on. While Dave tries to wake up his frozen colleagues from their eternal hibernation it seems that HAL has also killed them because there is no signal of life after initiating the de-hibernation sequence. Then it happens. The two doors that protect the ship from the vacuum that belongs to space open and the air, and loose objects that lie in the ship are sucked out of the ship and sent into and Jovian orbit. Dave is still in the ship and must find a way to gain oxygen or he will die. With his breath hold he finds a little cabin that is used for such emergencies. He goes in and turns on the oxygen. He thinks for a minute and decides to put on his space suit and shut down HAL. HAL tries to give Dave second thoughts, but after killing Frank, Dave can't trust HAL again. He enters HAL his control room and pulls out all his intelligence cables. Now HAL is just an ordinary computer that can't speak and think anymore. Dave returns peace on Discovery again and makes contact to Earth. After telling the story, he has to talk to Heywood Floyd. Floyd tells Dave all about the moon-trip and the rectangular object.
Dave is astonished and can't think of anything else. But Floyd tells Dave that he has to go to Saturn and especially to one of its moons. Because that is where the signal went that was sent from the moon.

Now on his new mission Dave will spend a couple of months to get to Saturn. When he arrives at Saturn he gets closer and closer, but contact with Earth will take six hours now, because a message at the speed of light will take three hours to get there. But when Dave gets a closer look at one of Saturns moons he discovers something new. On its surface is a second block of black material, just like on the moon. It is its Big Brother. When Dave is just a few hundred miles from the moons surface he decides to take his pod and explore the block. He isn't gonna return to Earth anyway, he has a couple of months worth of supplies and it will take the rescue ship three years to get to him. He enters the moons surface and while getting closer to the block, its perspective changes and Dave is sucked in, in some kind of strange way. What happens next is very strange. He is in a new universe, billions of light year away from our solar
The review of this Book prepared by Selman Ercan

Dave Bowman is an astronaut and a scientist. He and Frank Poole, another astronaut, team up with a super smart computer who can think for himself, the HAL 9000. Two years previously, a huge black monolith was discovered buried in a crater on the moon. As soon as the object saw lunar dawn for the first time in millions of years, it sent out a signal to saturn. Now the astronaut team has to visit Jupiter to find out about an alien race. But when HAL goes crazy and tries to take over the mission himself, there is a struggle, and Dave Bowman is the only one of the crew left alive. He finds himself facing something no human alive has ever faced, millions of miles from his homeland, all alone--a very odd hotel room.
The review of this Book prepared by kyle tissue

A discovery has been made on Earth's moon. The Monolith,a giant black...monolith has been found in a crater. It reflects no light and emits a radio shriek when after thousands of years,it is exposed to the sun. The crew of the Spaceship Discovery is on a mission to Jupiter and its moons. Aboard are three hibernauts who will be awakened by Dave Bowman and Frank Poole,the Beta Crew,the HAL 9000,an artificially intelligent computer. However,HAL goes insane and kills off the three hibernauts and strands Frank Poole in space. Now,the only place for Dave Bowman to go is to Europa,the moon of Jupiter where a discovery like no other awaits....
The review of this Book prepared by webpenguin

A impenetrable monolith is found on the Moon on 1999, which sends a message to Jupiter. A space expedition is sent to Jupiter on 2001, the computer in charge HAL 9000 starts making strange incorrect actions, kills some scientists, but not the main character. He is in for a rendezvous with the monolith ! How set it there? What is it? Did it create the human race?
The review of this Book prepared by Mario De Leo

Chapter Analysis of 2001: A Space Odyssey

Click on a plot link to find similar books!

Plot & Themes

Composition of Book Descript. of chases or violence 10%planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 20%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 10%Descript. of society, phenomena (tech), places 60% Tone of book    -   suspenseful (sophisticated fear) FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION?    -   science fiction story Explore/1st contact/ enviro story    -   Yes Explore:    -   primitive/present day space voyage Robots, Computers, VR    -   Yes Robot, PC, VR Plotlets:    -   fighting bad computer AI Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book

Main Character

Identity:    -   Male Profession/status:    -   scientist Age:    -   40's-50's


Terrain    -   Planet surface, need spacesuit    -   Space, need spacesuit Which planet?    -   Jupiter    -   Saturn Earth setting:    -   current (early 21st century) A substantial portion of this book takes place on a non-Earth planetary body:    -   neutral aliens    -   empty, or nearly empty world Takes place on Earth?    -   Yes Planet outside solar system?    -   Yes Not Earth, in Solar System?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   no torture/death

Books with storylines, themes & endings like 2001: A Space Odyssey

Arthur C. Clarke Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
2 Ways to Search!

Our Chief Librarian