3001: THE FINAL ODYSSEY by Arthur C. Clarke
Publication date: March 1997 in hardcover
Copyright ©1997 by Arthur C. Clarke
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Chapter 2: Awakening
Frank Poole awoke, but he did not remember. He was not even sure of his
Obviously, he was in a hospital room: even though his eyes were still
closed, the most primitive, and evocative, of his senses told him that.
Each breath brought the faint and not unpleasant tang of antiseptics in
the air, and it triggered a memory of the time when--of course!--as a
reckless teenager he had broken a rib in the Arizona Hang-Gliding
Now it was all beginning to come back. I'm Deputy Commander Frank Poole,
Executive Officer, USSS Discovery, on a Top Secret mission to Jupiter --
It seemed as if an icy hand had gripped his heart. He remembered, in
slow-motion playback, that runaway space-pod jetting toward him, metal
claws outstretched. Then the silent impact--and the not-so silent hiss
of air rushing out of his suit. After that--one last memory, of spinning
helplessly in space, trying in vain to reconnect his broken air-hose.
Well, whatever mysterious accident had happened to the space-pod
controls, he was safe now. Presumably Dave had made a quick EVA and
rescued him before lack of oxygen could do permanent brain damage.
Good old Dave! he told himself. I must thank--just a moment!--I'm
obviously not aboard Discovery now--surely I haven't been unconscious
long enough to be taken back to Earth!
His confused train of thought was abruptly broken by the arrival of a
Matron and two nurses, wearing the immemorial uniform of their profession.
They seemed a little surprised: Poole wondered if he had awakened ahead of
schedule, and the idea gave him a childish feeling of satisfaction.
"Hello!" he said, after several attempts; his vocal cords appeared to be
very rusty. "How am I doing?"
Matron smiled back at him and gave an obvious "Don't try to talk" command
by putting a finger to her lips. Then the two nurses fussed swiftly over
him with practiced skill, checking pulse, temperature, reflexes. When one
of them lifted his right arm and let it drop again, Poole noticed
something peculiar. It fell slowly, and did not seem to weigh as much as
normal. Nor, for that matter, did his body, when he attempted to move.
So I must be on a planet, he thought. Or a space station with artificial
gravity. Certainly not Earth--I don't weigh enough.
He was about to ask the obvious question when Matron pressed something
against the side of his neck, he felt a slight tingling sensation, and
sank back into a dreamless sleep. Just before he became unconscious, he
had time for one more puzzled thought.
How odd--they never spoke a single word--all the time they were with