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«2010: Odyssey Two», Arthur Clarke

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Perhaps this is the appropriate point to identify another and less well-known name appearing in these pages, that of Hsue-shen Tsien. In 1936, with the great Theodore von Karman and Frank J. Malina, Dr Tsien founded the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology (GALCIT) – the direct ancestor of Pasadena's famed Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He was also the first Goddard Professor at Caltech, and contributed greatly to American rocket research through the 1940s. Later, in one of the most disgraceful episodes of the McCarthy period, he was arrested on trumped-up security charges when he wished to return to his native country. For the last two decades, he has been one of the leaders of the Chinese rocket programme.

Finally, there is the strange case of the 'Eye of Japetus' – Chapter 35 of 2001. Here I describe astronaut Bowman's discovery on the Saturnian moon of a curious feather 'a brilliant white oval, about four hundred miles long and two hundred wide... perfectly symmetrical... and so sharp-edged that it almost looked... painted on the face of the little moon.' As he came closer, Bowman convinced himself that 'the bright ellipse set against the dark background of the satellite was a huge empty eye staring at him as he approached...' Later, he noticed 'the tiny black dot at the exact centre', which turns out to be the Monolith (or one of its avatars).

Well, when Voyager 1 transmitted the first photographs of Iapetus, they did indeed disclose a large, clear-cut white oval with a tiny black dot at the centre. Carl Sagan promptly sent me a print from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory with the cryptic annotation 'Thinking of you...' I do not know whether to be relieved or disappointed that Voyager 2 has left the matter still open.

Inevitably, therefore, the story you are about to read is something much more complex than a straightforward sequel to the earlier novel – or the movie. Where these differ, I have followed the screen version; however, I have been more concerned with making this book self-consistent, and as accurate as possible in the light of current knowledge.

Which, of course, will once more be out of date by 2001...



1 – Meeting at the Focus

Even in this metric age, it was still the thousand-foot telescope, not the three-hundred-metre one. The great saucer set among the mountains was already half full of shadow, as the tropical sun dropped swiftly to rest, but the triangular raft of the antenna complex suspended high above its centre still blazed with light. From the ground far below, it would have taken keen eyes to notice the two human figures in the aerial maze of girders, support cables, and wave-guides.

'The time has come,' said Dr Dimitri Moisevitch to his old friend Heywood Floyd, 'to talk of many things. Of shoes and spaceships and sealing wax, but mostly of monoliths and malfunctioning computers.'

'So that's why you got me away from the conference. Not that I really mind – I've heard Carl give that SETI speech so many times that I can recite it myself. And the view certainly is fantastic – you know, all the times I've been to Arecibo, I've never made it up here to the antenna feed.'

'Shame on you. I've been here three times. Imagine – we're listening to the whole universe – but no one can overhear us. So let's talk about your problem.'

'What problem?'

'To start with, why you had to resign as Chairman of the National Council on Astronautics.'

'I didn't resign. The University of Hawaii pays a lot better.'

'Okay – you didn't resign – you were one jump ahead of them. After all these years, Woody, you can't fool me, and you should give up trying. If they offered the NCA back to you right now, would you hesitate?'

'All right, you old Cossak. What do you want to know?'

'First of all, there are lots of loose ends in the report you finally issued after so much prodding. We'll overlook the ridiculous and frankly illegal secrecy with which your people dug up the Tycho monolith -'

'That wasn't my idea.'

'Glad to hear it: I even believe you. And we appreciate the fact that you're now letting everyone examine the thing – which of course is what you should have done in the first place. Not that it's done much good...'

There was a gloomy silence while the two men contemplated the black enigma up there on the Moon, still contemptuously defying all the weapons that human ingenuity could bring to bear upon it. Then the Russian scientist continued.

'Anyway, whatever the Tycho monolith may be, there's something more important out at Jupiter. That's where it sent its signal, after all. And that's where your people ran into trouble. Sorry about that, by the way – though Frank Poole was the only one I knew personally. Met him at the '98 IAF Congress – he seemed a good man.'

'Thank you; they were all good men. I wish we knew what happened to them.'

'Whatever it was, surely you'll admit that it now concerns the whole human race – not merely the United States. You can no longer try to use your knowledge for purely national advantage.'

'Dimitri – you know perfectly well that your side would have done exactly the same thing. And you'd have helped.'

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