My "Let's redo all the big sci-fi classics" odyssey continues, appropriately, with an odyssey.
"No trilogy should have more than four volumes" (Clarke is a man after Douglas Adams heart :)
There's a huge ambiguity of course, with the beginning of this. The gift of the monolith, is it the evolutionary kick or simply engaging the capacity for violence? That violence drives human progress is still as true today as it was for the man-apes. War and violence. Medicine, technology, transport, communication, the space race. This very internet we're using today. Behind nearly everything, there's this human upon human rage that we just can't seem to get rid of. This is a lot clearer in the book than in the movie, where it's only hinted at.
Ditto the similarity between Moon Watcher, the man ape, who when he realises he has power has no idea what to do with it, but is sure he'll think of something, and the Star Child, formerly Dave Bowman, who thinks... well word for word the same thing, 3 million years later. We are but children in the universe, burning ourselves on matches.
Unlike the movie (written concurrently, but with some plot differences) the pacing is not glacial, it rips along fairly quickly, so this is a short and easy read. But then, I like my sci-fi on the harder side, so I really enjoy the little digressions into centrifugal force, mass vs weight vs inertia, and how long you can live in a vacuum before your internal liquids boil (surprisingly long).
As with all the classics, ymmv.
As to this particular audiobook: The foreword is read by the author, which is delightful. When it went into the actual book, with Dick Hill's rather melodical reading style actually jarred quite a bit. By the time we reached the moon base and he was doing accents, I was about ready to give up. Somehow, somewhere around the time HAL started to lose his mind, it all came together for me, and I ended up staying up another 2 hours just to finish it off. And he does a spot on imitation of Douglas Rain as HAL 9000 (I actually went and checked they didn't use the HAL dialog samples from the movie, but I don't think they did.)