Study Guide

2001: A Space Odyssey Writing Style

By Arthur C. Clarke

Writing Style

Solemn, Dry

Clarke often uses repetition, and semi-Biblical cadences to try to create a sense of solemnity, or importance:

The ancients, had, indeed, done better than they knew when they named this world after the lord of all the gods. (20.14)

And so forth.

Next to such impressive references to despair, hope, ancients, and gods, though, there are also lots of passages that read like technical manuals:

From the central transit chamber he followed Miller down a curving stair. At first his weight was so sleight he had almost to force himself downward by holding on to the handrail. (8.11)

The point here is not to elevate the experience, but to give you a sense of the ground level ins and outs of what it would be like to be weightless, or experience some other sci-fi experience.

Solemn and dry both fit into that tone of "space is cool." (See the Tone section.) Solemn is telling you right out that space is cool, and throwing out words like "hope", "despair", and "lord of all the gods" to nail it down. The use of technical details, on the other hand, just assumes that space is cool; learning about gravity is awesome in itself, and surely you, dear Shmoop reader, want to hear all the technical details. The novel assumes you do, anyway—because that's what being a sci-fi fan means to 2001.