Study Guide

2001: A Space Odyssey Part 5, Chapter 32

By Arthur C. Clarke

Part 5, Chapter 32

Concerning E.T.

  • The ship goes on. While it does, the narrative speculates on whether the aliens could really have come from Saturn, or whether they actually came from further away.
  • This is important because—how long is it going to take the aliens to show up after they hear the alarm? If it's right away, that may be bad.
  • It seems likely they're a long way away, but what if they can go faster than the speed of light, those aliens?
  • Nothing can actually go faster than the speed of light, but this is science-fiction, and the fiction part means anything goes. If you've got super-intelligent aliens, why not super-intelligent aliens that go faster than light?
  • Why not unicorns that go faster than light? While humming Steely Dan?
  • Because that would not be SCIENCE.
  • Anyway.
  • Some scientists think the aliens will look like humans. Some don't.
  • Nobody thinks they'll look like unicorns. Shows what they know.
  • Some scientists think that the aliens might not have bodies, but might just be immortal robot critters.
  • Maybe the aliens are gods, the novel suggests.
  • Maybe they're chickens, or aardvarks. Nobody says that, but it could be. Super-energy-space-chickens. With laser beaks.