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2001: A Space Odyssey

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2001: A Space Odyssey, by acclaimed science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, is a tale of human evolution as guided by a higher intelligence, making it a landmark in literary achievement. Rather than focusing on an isolated moment in history, 2001 spans the entire course of mankindÐ"ÑžÐ'ЂÐ'™s development, from the most primitive cavemen to the final stages of evolution, with each period of evolution being represented by a different character or set of characters. These tiers of human achievement are interconnected by the presence of a mysterious stone structure known as Ð"ÑžÐ'ЂÐ'Ñšthe monolith,Ð"ÑžÐ'Ђ? which heralds in each new level of existence for the human race. The themes that Clarke addresses in this book include the evolution of mankind, the conflict of human evolution as opposed to the evolution of technology, and the role of a higher intelligence in human development.

The first theme, which forms the foundation of the 2001 story, is the gradual evolution of the human race. In the first part of the novel, mankind is represented by the savage Ð"ÑžÐ'ЂÐ'Ñšman-apes,Ð"ÑžÐ'Ђ? who fit the traditional caveman archetype. These creatures are barely above the intellectual level of animals, until the appearance of an extraterrestrial monolith inspires one of them to hunt using stones, thus beginning the use of tools for the human race and possibly saving the race from starvation. When next we see the human race, science and technology have made amazing strides, and the time period is sometime in a fictional twentieth century. Just as the caveman known as Moon-Watcher represented the man-apes, Dr. Floyd becomes the center of attention during this tier in human evolution. Floyd is called on a mysterious mission to the Clavius moon base, where it is revealed that a monolith much like the one discovered by the ape men has been unearthed. The discovery of this monolith marks an important step in human development in both a literal and figurative sense. While the first monolith was seen on Earth, this second monolith delineates mankindÐ"ÑžÐ'ЂÐ'™s ability to extend its reach beyond the earth and into outer space, thus marking a significant new level of human achievement. Finally, astronaut David Bowman represents the last evolutionary stage, as he embarks on a mission to one of SaturnÐ"ÑžÐ'ЂÐ'™s moons which was indicated by a signal from the moon-based monolith. After a series of events involving the malfunctioning of Hal, the shipÐ"ÑžÐ'ЂÐ'™s computer, Bowman arrives on the Saturn moon and unlocks the secret of the monoliths, at which time he leaves the physical body and becomes a spiritual creature who exists beyond the time-space continuum.

BowmanÐ"ÑžÐ'ЂÐ'™s story proves more than what man is meant to become, however - he proves that true intellectual and spiritual evolution can only be granted to a living being, and can not be achieved by a machine. Hal, the computerized entity in charge of running the ship that conveys Bowman and his crew to Saturn, stands in antithesis to the idea of evolution by being an artificial being, incapable of becoming the spiritual being that Bowman ultimately is transformed into. Seemingly angered by its lack of humanity, Hal malfunctions and murders BowmanÐ"ÑžÐ'ЂÐ'™s crewmate, Frank Poole, forcing Bowman to confront the more-advanced

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