Study Guide

2001: A Space Odyssey Part 4, Chapter 27

By Arthur C. Clarke

Part 4, Chapter 27

"Need to Know"

  • A brief pause as we dive into the brain of Hal.
  • Hal is focused entirely and exclusively on the completion of his mission.
  • He's also committed to truth.
  • But he's been forced to lie to Bowman and Poole.
  • The mission is actually a secret (hint: the mission involves aliens).
  • Bowman and Poole weren't told for fear that in communication with earth their demeanor might accidentally reveal something.
  • Hal knew, but couldn't tell, so he got neurotic.
  • Bowman threatened him with disconnection and he freaked out.
  • So now he's going to kill everyone and continue the mission alone.
  • There's a long history of untrustworthy and dangerous artificial persons in science-fiction, starting with Frankenstein's monster.
  • Hal is not very original. He's a lot more fun than any of the humans, though.

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