This series is very rapidly taking a nose-dive. 2061
continues the story of Heywood Floyd as he returns to Earth in the wake of the Leonov mission and tries to find some meaning in his life in his elder years. The first half of 2061
reads like a novel of exploration. Floyd is tapped to be part of an all-star manned mission to Halley's Comet and as you'd come to expect, there's plenty of the accompanying scientific explication - Clarke never misses a teachable moment. Greater technological advances by 2061 greatly diminish the sense of foreboding and the heavy atmosphere that accompanied the claustrophobic [b:2001: A Space Odyssey|70535|2001 A Space Odyssey (Space Odyssey, #1)|Arthur C. Clarke|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348775483s/70535.jpg|208362] and [b:2010: Odyssey Two|70539|2010 Odyssey Two (Space Odyssey, #2)|Arthur C. Clarke|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348084271s/70539.jpg|615175] and this time around, Clarke has to rely on the wonders of the cometscape (and they are, indeed, very, very wondrous) to rivet the reader. Sure, there's some danger alluded to, but unlike in the previous works, they never materialize.
After this marvelous scientific excursion, things begin to break down. Floyd's vacation is interrupted by a distress call from Europa. "Great!," you say, "time for some answers! What did that ominous message at the end of [b:2010: Odyssey Two|70539|2010 Odyssey Two (Space Odyssey, #2)|Arthur C. Clarke|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348084271s/70539.jpg|615175] mean? Maybe we'll get to see the Europans!" Nope, nope and nope sucker. Upon arrival in the narrative in the vicinity of that great planet of Clarkian mystery we are treated to the first in a long succession of passages stolen line-by-line from the previous books in the series. In particular, Floyd has a flashback to the last transmission of Tsein from book 2. Unlike its predecessors, there's no omnipresent sense of danger lurking just beyond the hull of the ship and one doesn't get the impression that the crew members of the Galaxy stranded on Europa are in any danger at all - let alone any inconvenience at all! As for why the ship was stranded in the first place, Clarke plays some not-so-imaginative geopolitics that aren't particularly interesting so much as ironic.
To top off the disappointment, the tale ends rather abruptly and more suggestively than the previous novels. There's very little progression of the monolith arc and we learn absolutely nothing new of value from Floyd's chats with the superentity named Halman. Like 2010
, the story of 2061
feels like it doesn't even begin until the last third of the book. The first two-thirds are not necessarily wasted, but irrelevant diversions into scientifically imagined flights of fancy and re-hashes of the story to this point.
A waste of time. Read the first two books then move on with your life.