2001: A Space Odyssey | Study Guide

Arthur C. Clarke

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2001: A Space Odyssey | Part 2, Chapters 9–10 : TMA-1 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 9: Moon Shuttle

With Earth visible outside an observation window, the two scientists exchange pleasantries. Dr. Moisevitch then asks Dr. Floyd about the epidemic rumors that are going around. Dr. Floyd says, hesitantly, that there is a quarantine, but everything is under control. His Russian friend presses for more information, mentioning the acronym TMA-1, but Dr. Floyd says he cannot reveal anything more. He soon makes a hasty exit, boards a shuttle for the moon, and settles in for the 25-hour trip to the moon's surface. On the way, he uses the bathroom, reads the news, naps, and generally passes the time until they arrive. Dr. Floyd can see the moon's cratered and mountainous surface as the shuttle nears its landing. A cloud of dust rises around the shuttle as it lands.

Chapter 10: Clavius Base

Clavius Base, the first human base on the moon, is located in the crater Clavius. In the Base, all of the necessities of life can be produced from resources found on the moon. Computerized systems recycle chemicals and produce food, and the scientists who populate the Base live in relative comfort.

Ralph Halvorsen, the administrator of the Southern Province, greets Dr. Floyd when he arrives, and the two go to Halvorsen's office after a brief meeting with Diana, Halvorsen's daughter. Dr. Floyd is surprised at how much she seems to have grown since the last time he saw her. There, they first discuss the rumored "moonplague," and both acknowledge that it is a ruse, a "cover story." Halvorsen tells Dr. Floyd that Dr. Michaels—the Chief Scientist on base—is ready to give him more information on TMA-1.

Analysis

The mystery of Dr. Floyd's urgent errand to the moon deepens as he talks with Moisevitch, who has heard rumors of an epidemic and seems to think TMA-1 might be the name of a pestilence of some kind. But although this heightens the sense of suspense and mystery, the chapter slows down as it describes the details of the shuttle's systems and the appearance of the moon's surface. This more descriptive style is continued into the next chapter, as the novel describes the way Clavius Base operates.

This attention to the workings of spaceflight and moon living is part of the science fiction genre, which aims to make its settings as realistic as possible, given the current best predictions of the future. But it also feels as if Clarke's novel was written as background and world-building for the movie. Clarke himself gives this impression in his Foreword. There he describes the process by which the novel was written in tangent with the movie script.

The concept of deception is also introduced, as the government's science team is obviously willing to use whatever means necessary to protect its discoveries from competing political interests as well as from the prying eyes of the public.

Finally, these chapters continue to develop the theme of humanity in the person of Diana Halvorsen. Diana is just four years old, but to Dr. Floyd's eyes she appears to be a child of about eight. The reduced gravity on the moon allows her to grow more rapidly and age less quickly, meaning a generation of longer lived human beings has come into existence. Clarke described for us how the use of tools changed humanity in the past; it is up to the reader to see how space travel will change it in the future.

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