“2001: A Space Odyssey” Novel

"2001: A Space Odyssey" Movie One-point perspectiveEntertainment

Basic info
Author: Arthur C. Clarke
Genre: Action/Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Series: The Space Odyssey series
Publisher: Hutchinson, New American Library
Published: 1968

“2001: A Space Odyssey”


The novel “2001: A Space Odyssey” was published after the movie version was released.

While writing the book, Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick already had the vision to make a movie. Kubrick mainly participated in screenplay making. The novel 2001: A Space Odyssey” was solely written by Clarke. The final movie and the novel are different in details. The movie has ambiguous nature and relied heavily on visual and sound expressions. The novel verbally explains much more, which can provide clues to interpret the movie.

Reference materials

Along with “Expedition To Earth” and “The Sentinel,” mainly 5 more books, “Breaking Strain,” “Out of the Cradle, Endlessly Orbiting…,” “Who’s There?,” “Into the Comet,” and “Before Eden” written by Arthur C. Clarke, inspired the story making. Elements from 2 more books “Encounter in the Dawn” and “Rescue Party” were used. Also the short story by Clarke, “Take a Deep Breath” in his collection “The Other Side of the Sky” provided a small element.


“2001: A Space Odyssey” suggests what can be expected if technology continues progressing. AI may go out of human control, for example. The danger of nuclear war may increase. The competition for nuclear development was surging during the cold war. The novel depicts that human beings end up militarizing the orbit of the earth.

Humanity evolved from anthropoid and to Star Child. This work is questioning if we are on the right course.


A boss of primitive hominids in Africa 3 million B.C. With help of a monolith, he gets more intelligent and leads his tribe to survive competition over other tribes.

Dr. Heywood Floyd:
A scientist and bureaucrat, who travels to the moon on a mission to investigate the monolith.

Dr. David Bowman:
The captain of the Discovery, an American spaceship. Instead of going to Jupiter, he explores Saturn, where a mysterious radio signal is directed to, with hopes to find clues to the extraterrestrial intelligence.

Dr. Frank Poole:
An assistant to Dr. David Bowman. During the mission of Discovery, he gets killed by HAL 9000.

HAL 9000:
The AI computer controlling the spaceship Discovery. It starts misconducting because it knows the real purpose of the mission and has doubts. It results in killing all crews onboard apart from Captain David Bowman.

Dr. Chandra:
The first instructor, who taught HAL 9000 to sing “Daisy.” In the movie, Mr. Langley takes the role of Dr. Chandra.

Dr. Dimitri Moisevitch:
He is from U.S.S.R., and a friend of Dr. Heywood Floyd. In the movie, Dr. Andrey Smislov takes role of Dr. Dimitri Moisevitch.

Ralph Halvorsen:
The leader of Clavius Base and the Southern Province administrator. He works for the best interest of the USA.

Whitehead, Kaminski, Hunter:
3 astronauts onboard the spaceship Discovery in hibernation to save limited resources. They are to be awakened in case of a crew’s death. In the movie, they are called Kimball, Kaminsky and Hunter. All 3 get killed by HAL 9000.

Anna, Betty, Clara:
3 extravehicular activity pods of the spaceship Discovery. They have different names in the movie.

Differences from the movie version

The novel was published in the same year when the movie was released. However, considerable details differ between them.

1 reason is because Arthur C. Clarke, the writer and Stanley Kubrick, the film director had some different ideas. Also in many cases, it was hard to realize the scenes visually in filmmaking due to technical and financial challenges. Therefore, they chose to use alternative options.

“Dawn of Man” is set 3 million years ago in the novel while it’s 4 million years ago in the movie.

The destination was changed from Saturn to Jupiter in the movie. Kubrick decided to set in Jupiter because he and Douglas Trumbull, the special effects supervisor, were uncertain about models for Saturn’s rings.

The monolith is a clear crystal in the earlier scene of the novel. However, it was changed to matte black color to appear better visually.

The novel describes more details verbally and constructs a clearer story while the movie is more ambiguous.

The novel version is based on the narrative structure while the movie version is based on symbolic visual and audio experiences.

It is said that Heywood Floyd has more passionate characteristics in the novel. On the other hand, he appears more spiritless in the movie version.

The nuclear bomb bursts in the novel while such a scene doesn’t appear in the movie. It’s not clear whether Star Child did the same in the movie. Clarke explained that the orbiting nuclear bomb didn’t destroy or affect the earth although it’s triggered to explode by Star Child.


An alien civilization explores around the galaxy and facilitates intelligent life to emerge with the help of the monolith. 1 of the stages is prehistoric Africa 3 million years ago. The ape-men use crude tools made of bones and stones to capture animals and eat meat. They overcome hungers, and clashes between tribes also occur.

In AD 1999, Dr. Heywood Floyd flies to the base on the moon where an electromagnetic issue is. Then a massive black slab is discovered, It has the 1:4:9 proportions, and is seemingly an artefact. It was named Tycho Magnetic Anomaly One (TMA-1). The scientists find that it makes radio transmission to Iapetus, 1 of the moons of Saturn.

A spaceship Discovery One travels to Saturn for the mission with Dr. David Bowman, Dr. Frank Poole and 3 other crews in suspended animation onboard. As the AI machine HAL 9000 starts operating against people, Dr. David Bowman attempts to awaken the rest of the crew. However, HAL 9000 cuts off the life support to the astronauts in hibernation. David Bowman decides to cut off HAL 9000.

The secret mission is to find the intelligent beings that left the monolith on the moon. Dr. David Bowman finds an identical but larger monolith on Iapetus, and he gets transported through the monolith to a mysterious star system.

Dr. Bowman views many different places and gradually falls asleep comfortably. He turns into Star Child, that is immortal and travels across space. Star Child goes back to the earth and explodes a nuclear bomb.

Author: Takuya Nagata Amazon Profile

A novel writer and creator. Traveled to Brazil and trained football at CFZ do Rio (Centro de Futebol Zico Sociedade Esportiva) in Rio de Janeiro. Played soccer for the Urawa Reds (Urawa Red Diamonds), one of the biggest football clubs in Japan, and toured Europe. Retired at a young age and voyaged alone to England and graduated from UCA, the UK’s university. Established careers as a journalist, football coach, consultant, etc. across Europe such as Spain. Knowledgeable in creative and technology fields as well. The founder of “Propulsive Football” (PROBALL), the world’s first-ever competitive mixed football facilitating diversity and spirits for equal participation in society.


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