A future-perfect scientific adventure through the solar system which bears all the hazards of an early and epic exploration toward evolutionary destiny.
Clarke’s prophetic knowledge of science and resourceful research coupled with his straightforward sentence style and short chapters make swallowing this far future/present-day hard science tale a joy to undertake. This is a journey primarily concerned with a man versus nature narrative that is kept to in a profound way. The descriptions and suppositions which Clarke expounds upon do not slow down the narrative. Neat prose is digested as elements of the cosmos and realistic chores of long-term space travel rattle smoothly by—all while casual remarks concerning the wonders of the universe are crafted with loving and knowledgeable exposition. One certainly feels that one is traveling through space and all the difficulties which that would suppose.
The technology and environs are well-described, but so are the more mysterious otherworldly elements. This holds true for aspects of the universe that could not have necessarily been known at the time and were written as speculation, as well as holding true for those aspects being theorized about. Everything feels real and accurate. The mysteries are as palpable as the food the astronauts eat.
This story is told in multiple parts, but goes back all the way to our ancestral beginnings as it weaves its plot. There he lays his seed for mankind to discover and the resulting blossom does not disappoint.
Clarke also has a smooth way of interchanging the viewpoints of characters with an omniscient point of view which flows seamlessly throughout the book. While this might seem that it would bring distance between the reader and the characters it does not. The story is our story, as humans, and we are drawn into the narrative to see this great exploration through from its strange prehistoric origins all the way to its far-flung galactic travels.
Tension is utilized with masterful sparseness so that when it descends onto the pages the events are profound, symbolic, and thought-provoking as they reflect upon a theme Clarke has been subtly building all along. These motifs range mostly along lines of futurism with specific questions addressing artificial intelligence and evolution and creation and existentialism. Yet, all of it reaches far and wide yearning always for an almost god-like perspective of the universe. Clarke’s exploration of humanities greatest mysteries and the scientific theories with which we aim to find understanding, are forever chasing after their own tails in a wash of almost spiritual reverence. He finds a fuzzy marriage between the knowable and unknowable by the faith humans employ in their strive to do better.
Take the journey and travel back to the dawn of time for a window into mankind’s origins as this author slingshots you across the solar system toward our inevitable and greatest destiny—an evolution like no other.
Podcast: If you enjoy my review (or this topic) this book and the movie based on it were further discussed/debated in a lively discussion on my podcast: “No Deodorant In Outer Space”. The podcast is available on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Tune-In Radio, Stitcher, Google Play Music, YouTube or our website (www.nodeodorant.com).