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The Space Odyssey Series is a series of novels written by Arthur C. Clarke, which takes a philosophical look at many Speculative Fiction Tropes, such as Precursors, Intelligent Computers, space travel and the humankind's place in the universe.

The novels are in chronological order:

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968): A interesting case since the novel is actually the byproduct to a collaboration between Clarke and Stanley Kubrick, which resulted in the film of the same name that came out the same year, which makes the book the Novelization. The book and the film are both based on some of Clarke's earlier short stories, most prominently The Sentinel, and they largely follows the same plot, but with some small differences.

    A strange Monolith is discovered on the moon, apparently having been left there by a race of extra-terrestrial lifeforms. As it is been studied by human scientists, it sends some kind of transmission into outer space. About a year later a crew of five astronauts leaves for a scientific exploration travel to Saturn on the space-ship Discovery. Only two of them, David "Dave" Bowman and Francis "Frank" Poole, are left awake to help the sixth crew member, a supercomputer by the name of HAL 9000, with monitoring the ship's day-to-day function. This is just boring routine, until HAL starts acting weird and unpredictable, not only jeopardizing the mission, but also the life of the crew.
  • 2010: Odyssey Two (1982): While not initially though up by Clarke as a movie idea, the book was, in 1984, adapted, with his and Kubrick's blessing, into the film ~2010: The Year We Make Contact~.

    Nine years after the Discovery's travel to Jupiter (changed from Saturn to match the film), a joint Soviet-American crew is heading for the mighty gas-planet to find out what happened to the Discovery and it's crew. Meanwhile David Bowman, now reborn as a Energy Being, is helping the race that created the Monoliths with scouting Jupiter and it's moons for primitive lifeforms, hopefully finding one that has potential to turn sentient.
  • 2061: Odyssey Three (1987): Heywood Floyd, one of the main characters from the previous novels, has been invited as a celebrity guest for the spaceliner Universe's landing on Halley's Comet. Meanwhile a militant anti-Afrikaner takes control of the shuttle Galaxy, which she crashes into Jupiter's moon, Europa, leaving Universe as the crew of the Galaxy's only hope of rescue.
  • 3001: The Final Odyssey (1997): The Discovery crew member, Frank Poole, having been killed by HAL 9000 and left adrift in space for a thousand years, is brought back to life through the wonders of future science, and begins to explore the earth of 3001. Meanwhile, the creators of the Monoliths are making their final speculation about whether or not to sacrifice human kind for the greater good.

This series of novels contain examples of:

  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: "The creators of the Monoliths", David Bowman, HAL 9000.
  • Broad Strokes/Negative Continuity: While all of the novels seems to take all of the events of the previous ones in account, each installment seems to ignore the ending of the previous one. Word of God is that each novel takes place in it's own parallel universe.
    • Most notable is the novel of 2001 is centered around Saturn, not Jupiter.
  • Circumcision Angst: Inverted. A woman loses interest in Frank because his is circumcised, something that isn't done in 3001.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: In 3001, humans are able to clone raptors who are used for labor, and excellent babysitters. They tried using great apes (like gorillas), but they "don't have the patience for it".
  • Endless Daytime: Europa in 2010, thanks to Jupiter becoming a star.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Averted. Despite all of the monolith's powers, light speed is as fast as they can send information around.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: 3001 Is about a man brought back to life 1000 years in the future and Clarke's thoughts on what it will be like, then only the last third returns to the ongoing plot of the series.
  • Just Friends: Poole's relationship and eventual marriage with Indra is a form of this. They even managed to stay friends after the split up romantically 15 years later.
  • Nightmare Fuel: In-Universe in 3001, the people were terrified when they observe a planet explode, which triggered a supernova. They are left to wonder if there was intelligence on that planet or if they somehow caused it.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: By the year 3001, religion is abolished.
    • Oh My Gods: In place of "God" they say "Deus", as in "By Deus - It's full of stars!".
  • Precursors: The mysterious race only know as "The creators of the Monoliths".
    • The prologue gave them the name "Firstborn", but was never used in-story.
  • Rip Van Winkle: Frank Poole
  • Terraform: 2061 and 3001 depicts humankind as being capable of this.