Science-fiction has two big themes. The first is space—and 2001 gives you lots and lots of space stuff. The second is time—and 2001 has a bunch of that as well. In fact, space and time are basically smooshed together. When humans get off the planet, they find all this ancient stuff left behind by the aliens, who kick-started human evolution way back when. Traveling out is also traveling back; in 2001 you need to go way into the future to find the past.
Questions About Time
Is 2001 irrelevant because the 2001 it imagined didn't happen? Why or why not?
If the first section of the novel with the man-apes were removed, would time still be an important theme in the novel?
Does 2001 spread time out? Or does it compress time?