At the beginning of the novel we see a majestic image of the planet Earth against the backdrop of savannas of Equatorial Africa.
A small tribe of Pithecanthropus begins to die out. Nature did not endow them with sharp claws or predatory fangs, but they possess the beginnings of consciousness. Probably, it was the ability to think that attracted here one of the extraterrestrial civilizations, which grows everywhere the seeds of Reason, wherever it finds them. Pithecanthropus was chosen as an object of cosmic experiments.
One night, over a river valley hangs a huge block of very transparent material. In the darkness, when the Pithecanthropus returned to the caves, the stone produces a strange, vibrating sound that attracts Pithecanthropus like a magnet. In the thick darkness,
In the 21st century, scientists are on the Moon, where people also lived, the evidence of the existence of an alien civilization. The chairman of the National Space Council, summoned to the moon, learns that the meter of magnetic indices, has spotted a powerful distortion of the magnetic field near the lunar crater Tycho. During excavations
During the lunar dawn, the monolith catches a ray of the sun, and then in the headsets of the researchers standing around it an incomprehensible and piercing noise is heard. This sound is processed by space monitors and probes, and with the help of computer technology it was possible to find out that the sound was clearly of an artificial origin, and the impulse was sent from the Moon to the surface of Saturn.
Very few people knew about all this, because such an event could give rise to a real shock for humanity.
Further, the action of the novel is transferred to outer space, to the interplanetary ship “Discovery”. The first months of space travel are very calm. On board the ship were awake two crew members – Frank Poole and David Bowman. They daily carried watch and performed the duties required by the instruction. The other three crew members were asleep, immersed in a state of artificial hyperthermic sleep. They will awaken only when the ship reaches the orbit of Saturn. Only the sleeper know the real purpose of the journey – possible contact with representatives of the alien civilization, while Frank and David consider the flight an ordinary research mission. The organizers of the trip believed that the secrecy of the mission is necessary for the sake of the interests and security of all mankind.
In fact, the ship is no longer controlled by people, but the sixth “computer” crew member – Eal, an algorithmic computing mechanism – the central system and the brain of Discovery. The abilities of Eal are similar to the functional of the human brain, only very developed. The machine even communicates with people in their figurative language. Computer Eal is programmed to achieve the purpose of the expeditionary flight, but the contradiction between the real purpose of travel and the need to hide the truth from people gradually destroy the “brain” of Eala. The machine makes gross mistakes, and finally decides to completely get rid of people and complete the research on its own when he hears during the talks between the astronauts and the Center about the need to turn off the on-board computer and transfer control of the ship to the Earth. Eal intentionally simulates a malfunction of the antenna. When Frank Poole goes into space to replace the broken part, Eal sends a jet lifeboat to the astronaut, from the impact of which Poole dies. On the screen of the monitor, Bowman sees how the boat flies from the ship, dragging the body of the deceased companion on the safety rope. Frank Poole will be the first of the people to fall on Saturn.
Bowman tries to wake one of the sleeping ones, but what happens next makes him chill with horror. Eal opened the ship hatches and began to pump air out of the ship into outer space. But the astronaut manages to turn off the ill-fated central airborne system, put on a spacesuit and lock himself in the rescue compartment. At a distance of millions of kilometers from Earth, Bowman learns about the real purpose of travel. The engine and navigation system ships are in good condition, and Bowman decides to complete the journey himself. Finally, the astronaut reaches the surface of the giant Saturn. Earth Bowman receives instructions to begin research from the satellite of Saturn – Yapet. The entire surface of the satellite is similar to black coal, only with a white flat plateau and a black notch in the middle. The plateau was like a monolith found on the moon,
The experiment, which began three million years ago, has come to an end. The monolith found on Iapetus turned out to be the Star Gate Guard. It was established here by representatives of extraterrestrial civilization. They also sent to Earth a mysterious crystal and buried a black monolith on the Moon. The earth really created a new Reason, through which people learned to explore other planets. From the lunar monolith, a signal was sent to Yapet to inform the extraterrestrial civilizations of this pleasant news.
David Bowman decides to land on Iapete in the rescue capsule. Feeling the approach of man, the forces of the Stargate begin to awaken and carry the upper edge of the monolith deep into the satellite planet. The Bowman rescue capsule rushes into the immense blackness of the mine. That’s how the Stargate opened.
Time stopped its flow. The clock has stopped counting the precious seconds, but the perception and consciousness continue their work. Bowman sees the black space of the cosmic “fault” along which the myriads of millions of stars run. He realizes that with time and space something happened that is beyond the understanding of the common man, but Bowman trusted the power of the omnipresent Reason. Ultimately, hundreds of light years separate the cosmonaut from the Earth, he is already facing a giant red star, into the abode of a flame. But at the end of the journey, Bowman feels that he must have gone mad. He finds himself in a simple hotel, the owners of which played this “star adventure” for their esteemed client. He understands that everything he saw before was a simple decoration, made by a well-known film two years ago. He sinks into his last earthly dream. His mind becomes one with the Cosmos. In this case, the physical envelope of a person becomes unnecessary. Bowman can move around in space with the power of thought. He saves his planet from the approaching nuclear Apocalypse.