Growing up, there was always a fascination within me for space and what it could hold, and the history of the space age that fired peoples’ imaginations across the globe and led to innumerable scientific developments that then spinballed into other areas of global society. Whenever there would be an article about space in the newspaper, I would read it. In high school, I began to assemble a science notebook, in which I pasted newspaper articles focused on scientific developments, particularly anything to do with space. Authors like Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov were among those who fired my imagination and it is as much because of them as anything else that I am a science fiction fan these days.
One of the things I love about Star Trek, in all its myriad forms, is that it is about exploration, about adventure, about going into the unknown and seeing what makes the universe tick. That is one of the most fundamental reasons that I am a fan of that setting. And in the Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey documentary series that recently launched, I see that same zest for knowledge, though in this case it is much more immediate and shows how the fanciful can very well be reality. I just saw the first episode and I am enthralled by what it did.
Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is a novel that I will never forget. It has the distinction, for me, of being the first ever full-on space opera/science fiction novel that I ever read (I am not counting the young adult Animorphs novels). It was also the first novel I read at my new school in Dubai when we moved there in July 2001 (I read the book sometime late September 2001). To this day, I remember the book very fondly. It started off in an amazing place, and it ended with the most wondrous climax that I’d read to date, and that applies to all the hundreds of novels I’ve read since then.
There is something about nostalgia, and that first book. Frank Herbert’s Dune will always be an amazing masterpiece for me and a true space opera classic, but 2001: A Space Odyssey is a great companion at the top of that table. Clarke’s novel is the one that really set me on the path to reading the wider science fiction and fantasy genres, and that is why it will always have a special place in my heart. Just a few days ago, I re-read the novel for the first time ever since that first reading almost twelve and a half years ago. The sense of wonder and grandeur in the novel is just as compelling today as it was to an inexperienced reader all those years ago. A timeless classic.
Note: This novel is part of my 25 Series To Read In 2014 challenge.
For the second-last day of the “Advent Reviews” series, I have another novel that I read earlier this year, but never got around to reviewing, mostly because I did not enjoy the book at all and was somewhat reluctant to do a negative review at the time. Plus, I already had too much of a backlog in that regard (still do), so I passed over it. I love reading SF set within the solar system, such as Orson Scott Card’sEarth Unaware or Katy Stauber’s Spin The Sky, and that’s one of the reasons I picked up this book, in addition to the striking cover art. But the book failed to impress me and it left me pretty disappointed as a complete experience. Once again, this is a review from memory, so I do apologise for any details that I get wrong.