Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work.

The Perils of Technology

2001: A Space Odyssey explores technological innovation, its possibilities and its perils. Two particular dangers of technology are explored in great detail. First, Hal presents the problems that can arise when man creates machines, whose inner workings he does not fully understand. Second, the book explores the dangers associated with the nuclear age. The novel issues a warning against the destructive power associated with that technological innovation in the military arena.


2001 takes a long-term view of development, human and otherwise. The story traces the development of man from man-ape. Uniquely, 2001 considers not only the evolution that has led to the development of man, but also the evolution that man might undergo in the future. Thus, we follow Bowman as he is turned into a star-child by the advanced civilization of extra- terrestrial intelligence. The novel recognizes that evolutionary theory implies that humanity is not the final goal of some process, but only a stopping point on an undirected process. One way this process might continue, the book imagines, is that humans will learn to rid themselves of their biological trappings.

Space Exploration

When 2001: A Space Odyssey was written, Man had not yet even set foot on the moon. The space exploration programs in the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were well underway, but the technology was only in its early stages. Much room was left to imagine the future of the space program. 2001 offers one such imagination, offering a glimpse at what space exploration might one day be. Lengthy journeys, such as manned flights to Saturn, and advanced technologies, such as induced human hibernation, are created and brought to life throughout the story.