Title: 2061: Odyssey Three
Author: Arthur C. Clarke
Publish Date: 1987
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Science Fiction
Sub-Genre: Space Travel, Spaceships, Stellar Phenomenon, Alien Worlds, Advanced Technology, Artificial Intelligence, Evolution, Alien Encounters, Hijacking, Spies, Geology, Exploration, Computers, Artifacts
Heywood Floyd survived his first two encounters with the monoliths, but now he’s back in space, heading back to the Jovian moons, With the birth of the mini-sun where the gas giant Jupiter once orbited, it was now important once again to investigate the forbidden world of the moon Europa.
Having received a warning never to land on Europa after Jupiter exploded; mankind has avoided the moon for over fifty years. Man’s only transgressions were placing satellites in orbit and observing the atmosphere and surface from space and its neighboring moons.
Now, a geologist has found a surprising mineral formation on the surface of Europa and he weasels his way into a sanctioned trip to orbit the moon and perform geological tests.
Unknown to the starship’s captain, one of the crewmembers has more in mind that just observing and performing the authorized tests.
After the survey ship crash-lands on Europa following a foiled hijacking attempt, Floyd develops a plan for the ship he is on to be diverted so that it can attempt a rescue of the stranded people on the surface of the moon.
Everyone on the rescue ship knows that lending there is strictly forbidden. All that Floyd and the crew can do is hope and pray that the Europans will allow another landing on their planet without taking offense.
In 2001, mankind witnessed the birth of a new sun in their solar system where the planet Jupiter had once been. It all took place after they encountered life on one of its moons, Europa.
The Jovian planet was transformed into a mini-sun by the Europan entities, and man was warned via one last message relayed from the doomed spaceship Discovery, just before it was destroyed.
“ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS – EXCEPT EUROPA.
ATTEMPT NO LANDINGS THERE”
With that message in mind, mankind built bases throughout the solar system, but the lure of the unknown life on Europa proved irresistible. Probes were sent and satellites placed into orbit around the moon to monitor for any short or long-term changes. After years of uninteresting observations, a final flicker from the last orbiting satellite provides a glimpse of something new and unusual on the previously flat, featureless Europan landscape.
A geologist on a sister moon, Ganymede, observed a prism-like reflection embedded in the dying communication link from the deteriorating satellite. He creates a plan to check his hypothesis in the future. After meeting with his famous father from a previous mission, a new mission is planned that will verify whether or not a new mountain that has appeared on Europa is a precious mineral.
During a close-in pass over the moon’s surface to test the geology of the mountain field, the ship is hijacked and forced to crash-land, becoming crippled due to the rash actions of the hijacker. Stranded on the moon, the survivors signaled for help, detailing their circumstances.