3001: The Final Odyssey

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3001: The Final Odyssey
First UK edition
Author Arthur C. Clarke
Cover artist Chris Moore
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Science fiction novel
Publisher Voyager Books (UK)
Del Rey Books (US)
Publication date
ISBN ISBN 0-345-31522-7 (US hardback edition)
OCLC 35919386
823/.914 21
LC Class PR6005.L36 A618 1997
Preceded by 2061: Odyssey Three

3001: The Final Odyssey (1997) is a science fiction novel by Sir Arthur C. Clarke. It is the fourth and final book in Clarke's Space Odyssey series.

Plot summary[edit]

This novel begins with a brief prologue describing the aliens who created the black monoliths. They apparently evolved from "primordial soup", and over the course of millions of years, become a space-faring species. Perceiving that intelligent life was rare in the Universe, they catalysed the evolution of intelligent species wherever they went, by increasing the intelligent species' chance of survival. After visiting the Earth, the extraterrestrials found a way to impress themselves into the fabric of space and time, becoming effectively immortal. Meanwhile, the alien monoliths—implied to have been forgotten by their creators when they ascended to a higher state of being—continued to watch over their subjects.

3001 follows the adventures of Frank Poole, the astronaut killed by the HAL-9000 computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey. One thousand years later, Poole's freeze-dried body is discovered in the Kuiper belt by a comet-collecting space tug named the Goliath, and revived. Poole is taken home to learn about the Earth in the year 3001. Some of its notable features include the BrainCap, a brain-computer interface technology; genetically-engineered dinosaur servants; a space drive; and four gigantic space elevators located evenly around the Equator. Human beings have also colonised the Jovian moons Ganymede and Callisto. TMA-1, the black monolith found on the Moon in 1999, has been brought to Earth in 2006 and installed in front of the United Nations Building in New York City.

It is determined that following the events of 2010: Odyssey Two and 2061: Odyssey Three, the Jovian monolith had sent a report to its makers 450 light years away, and is expected to receive its orders toward humanity after the 900-year round-trip. Presumably, the monolith was empowered to obliterate the nascent biosphere of Jupiter, but needed a higher authority's approval to obliterate the technological civilisation on Earth. There is considerable worry that the judgment, based on the monolith's observations of humanity up to 2061, will be negative, and the human race destroyed as the Jovian life-forms discovered by David Bowman were destroyed in making Jupiter a second sun to assist intelligence on Europa. Frank conscripts Bowman and HAL, now become a single entity—Halman—residing in the monolith's computational matrix, to infect the monolith with a computer virus. The monolith does receive orders to exterminate humankind, and duplicates itself; whereupon millions of monoliths form two screens to prevent light and heat from reaching the Earth and its colonies. Halman having already infected the first monolith, all the monoliths disintegrate.

Halman uploads its combined personalities into a petabyte-capacity holographic 3D storage medium and thus survives the disintegration of the monoliths; but is infected with the virus and is subsequently sealed by human scientists in Pico Vault. At the close of the story, Poole and other humans land on Europa to start peaceful relations with the primitive native Europans. A statement is made that the monolith's makers will not determine humanity's fate until "the Last Days".

Differences between 3001: The Final Odyssey and earlier books[edit]

This portrayal of the monoliths is different from that in the earlier novels. In particular, the 2001 monolith was capable of faster-than-light transmission, and was generally portrayed as both less malevolent and more of a thinking entity than the one seen in this novel (in particular, Dave Bowman's transcendence as a star child is now explained as a mundane case of being uploaded onto a computer).

In 2010, an apparition of Bowman appeared before Floyd (shaping itself from dust), warning that the Leonov's crew must leave Jupiter within 15 days. Floyd had difficulty convincing the rest of the crew, which would have been much easier had he been in possession of the video recording of the incident shown to Poole by Dr. Allister Kim in 3001.

The very end of 2010, titled simply "20,001", could not have happened as portrayed because of the disappearance of the monoliths at the end of 3001.

The story features a ring-shaped habitat in geostationary orbit around Earth, connected by four "towers" (space elevators) equally spaced around the equator. In the epilogue of 2061: Odyssey Three however, the ring-shaped habitat reportedly has six "towers" instead of four.

Additionally, some of the dates are changed. The USSR is acknowledged as having collapsed in 1991, whereas in the earlier three books it lasts well into the 21st century. Frank Poole's birth date is set at 1996; the Discovery mission is pushed forward to the 2030s and the Leonov mission to the 2040s, when in the earlier three books, they were in 2001 and 2010, respectively. Finally, Poole remarks that by the 2020s his world had learned to tap unlimited vacuum energy, when the previous books had established only cold fusion as the highest source of power by 2061; vacuum energy would have made the plasma drive and fission reactor on the original Discovery obsolete a decade prior to the ship's construction (under the new 3001 dates).

However, Clarke consistently stated that each of the Odyssey novels takes place in its own separate parallel universe[1]—this is demonstrated by the facts that the monoliths are still in existence at the end of 2010: Odyssey Two and that Floyd is no longer part of the trinity formed at the end of 2061: Odyssey Three. These parallel universes are a part of Clarke's retroactive continuity.

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations[edit]

It was reported on Yahoo Entertainment in 2000 that MGM and actor/director Tom Hanks were in discussions regarding turning both 2061: Odyssey Three and 3001: The Final Odyssey into movies. (Hanks would reportedly play Frank Poole in the 3001 film.) An update in 2001 stated that there was no further development on the project.[2]

On November 3, 2014, it was reported that Syfy had ordered a mini-series adaptation of 3001: The Final Odyssey into production for broadcast in 2015. The mini-series will be executive-produced by Ridley Scott, David W. Zucker and Stuart Beattie; the latter will also be the primary scriptwriter. The estates of both Clarke and 2001: A Space Odyssey director Stanley Kubrick were reported as having "offered their full support", but the extent of their involvement is not known at this time.[3]


  1. ^ Clarke, Arthur C. (1997). "Author's Note". 2061 Odyssey Three. HarperCollinsPublishers. p. [page needed]. ISBN 0-586-20319-2. 
  2. ^ Greg Dean Schmitz. "3001: The Final Odyssey – Greg's Preview – Yahoo! Movies". Archived from the original on 27 June 2007. Retrieved 13 May 2008. 
  3. ^ Michael Ausiello. "Scoop: 2001: A Space Odyssey Sequel Blasts Off at Syfy". Retrieved 3 Nov 2014. 
  • Clarke, Arthur C. (1997). "Valediction". In Del Rey. 3001: The Final Odyssey. Random House Publishing Group. p. 272. ISBN 0-345-42349-6.