The Bloodiest, Most Stomach-Turning Book You’ve Ever Read

“All of European literature springs from a fight,” says a Classics professor in Philip Roth’s The Human Stain. He’s talking about Homer’s The Iliad, and what a nasty little story it is. A few lines from Book 4, during the first major battle scene between the Trojans and the Achians, offers a sanguine taste: Then fate fell upon … Continue reading

Effabling the Ineffable in 2001: A Space Odyssey

The most memorable moments of the film version of 2001: A Space Odyssey are the opening, with the rendition of Strauss’ “Thus Spake Zarathustra” and the monkeys wielding lethal porcine femurs, followed by the exchanges between the self-aware robot HAL 9000 and the crew of the spaceship Discovery.  What makes these moments so familiar is the … Continue reading

The Mediocre Prose of 2001: A Space Odyssey

There is a peculiar pleasure in reading science fiction a decade after the “events of the future” were intended to have taken place. Remember, the fictional events of Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey are entering their tenth anniversary. I won’t go into a labor-intensive compare and contrast of what Clarke got right and wrong (briefly, … Continue reading

2001’s Opening, millions of years ago

Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey has been invariably read since its publication as a companion piece or even, horror of horrors, a novelization of the like-named film. It is impossible to separate the two since they were created in tandem, with the film being released a few months before the book. I don’t like … Continue reading

2001: A Space Odyssey

The drought had lasted now for ten million years, and the reign of the terrible lizards had long since ended. So we jump forward a century or so in writing history, leaving behind the soap opera costume drama of George Eliot’s Middlemarch for the space opera psychodrama of Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. The … Continue reading