Space Odyssey

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For the BBC drama/documentary, see Space Odyssey (TV series).
For the Italian film, see Star Odyssey.
See also: Space Oddity

The Space Odyssey series is a science fiction series of four novels and two films created from 1968 to 1997, primarily by the writer Arthur C. Clarke. Two early short stories by Clarke may also be considered part of the series.


  • "The Sentinel" — short story written in 1948 and first published in 1951 as "Sentinel of Eternity"
  • "Encounter in the Dawn" — short story first published in 1953 (re-titled "Encounter at Dawn" or "Expedition to Earth" in some later collections)


The 2001 screenplay was written by Clarke and Stanley Kubrick jointly, based on the seed idea in "The Sentinel" that an alien civilization has left an object on the Moon to alert them to mankind's attainment of space travel. In addition, the 1953 short story contains elements of the first section of the film, in which the ancestors of humans are apparently given an evolutionary "nudge" by extraterrestrials. The opening part of another Clarke story, "Transience", has plot elements set in about the same time in human history, but is otherwise unrelated.

The 1972 book The Lost Worlds of 2001 contains material that did not make it into the book or film.

Clarke's first attempt to write the sequel to 2001 was a film screenplay. Clarke was not directly involved in the production of the second film, although he did appear in a cameo. Kubrick had no involvement in the 2010 novel or film, or any of the later projects. As of 2014, there are plans for a third and fourth film by a european Company.

The Space Odyssey series combines several science-fiction narrative conventions with a metaphysical tone. Since the stories and settings in the books and films all diverge, Clarke suggested that the "continuity" of the series represents happenings in a set of parallel universes. One notable example is that in the original book, the voyage was to the planet Saturn. In production, it was decided that the FX for Saturn's rings would be too expensive, so the film's voyage is to Jupiter, instead. The second book "2010" retcons the whole storyline to match with the film's specified Jovian destination.

Clarke stated that the Time Odyssey novels are an "orthoquel" to the Space Odyssey series.[1]



  1. ^ Review of “Firstborn” on
  2. ^ 3001:The Final Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke