2061: Odyssey Three is the third book in a series by Arthur C. Clarke, following the tremendous epic 2001 and the 2010 followup. Dr. Heywood Floyd, now over a 100 years old, is a asked to be a celebrity guest aboard a privately owned ship whose mission is to land on Halley’s comet. Meanwhile, a team of scientists, including Floyd’s grandson, is headed to a scientific settlement near Europa, when the mission is hijacked by a political extremist and forced to crash land on Europa. Dr. Floyd and his team, after much deliberation, undertake a rescue mission to land on the forbidden planet.
As with both it’s predecessors, the science in this work of science fiction is wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed the detailed exploration of Halley’s comet, the theories debated to decide how Dr. Floyd and his team would get enough fuel to undertake the rescue mission, and the long discussions regarding the origin of the unknown mountain on Europa (which turns out to be a solid diamond). Unfortunately, the science was the best part. All minor characters are forgettable, the action scenes themselves don’t hold much suspense, and the political intrigue back on Earth is simplistic. In addition, the dire final warning of the previous book appears to hold no consequences for either crew.
I do think the spiritual, non-corporeal elements of this novel are handled much better in this novel, maybe because there is less of it, but also because there seems to be a reason for them. In the interest of spoilers, I won’t say much more, but I will mention that Dr. Bowman and Hal make an appearance to Dr. Floyd again, which I very much appreciated.
I would recommend this book for Clarke fans and those interested in era-specific science fiction, as it was an enjoyable read.