|Still from 2001: A Space Odyssey|
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
by Arthur C. Clarke
The novel version of 2001 was written at the same time as the script for the film. Kubrick and Clarke actually collaborated on the novel as well, but Clarke was ultimately deemed to be the only author. For an audience raised on the film itself (as I was) the book comes as a revelation, explaining many key points the film leaves unsaid. Arthur C. Clarke is the ultimate example of the author as technological prophet, and the creator of the sub-genre of "hard science" science fiction. The most recent example of a cross-over success in this field is the Matt Damon starring film, The Martian. As a sub-genre, hard science fiction eschews plot devices which exceed the boundaries of known science.
2001: A Space Odyssey was written before the first moon landing. It's very easy to forget that, so accurate is Clarke's depiction of near-future space travel. 2001 was also path-blazing in it's treatment of subjects like Artificial Intelligence (the psychotic on-board computer, HAL), alien life and the use of wormholes for interstellar travel. So many exciting new ideas are included that it's easy to overlook the unimaginative prose. The novel of 2001 is as concrete as the film version is artistic.