Arthur C. Clarke said for a long time that he’d not write a sequel to 2001. Sometimes, it’s best to stick with the original intent. This sequel was decidedly underwhelming.
For one thing, Clarke has chosen to follow the film version of 2001 rather than his own book version. That means that instead of taking place around Saturn, the action is based around Jupiter. I suppose that he was acknowledging that the film reached more people, but even aware of the decision, I found it confusing, and had to keep reminding myself that this was a sequel to the film (which I haven’t seen for decades) and not to the book I read last month.
Equally troubling, there’s little real purpose to the book. It’s an unfortunate exemplar of a bridge sequel, in that very little happens other than to lay the groundwork for another book. The sequence of events is at times asynchronous, and there are occasional long, jarring and – I’m sorry to say it – dull asides that add very little. There’s a lack of clarity at one point about whether a scene is a flashback or just badly set up. And, to top things off, there are many and long quotes – retreads – from the previous book.
It all adds up to a nicely written, poorly constructed, and ultimately purposeless book that confirms Clarke’s original plan to leave well enough alone.