"3001" by Arthur C. Clarke
3001 came out in 1997, which, when you think about it, isn't that long ago. This would mean there was a span of over 20 years between 2001 and 3001, which is all the more surprising considering the fact that there are only four books in the series. Compared to the number of books Isaac Asimov contributed to his Foundation series, or Frank Herbert to his Dune series, Clarke was definitely taking his time.
As is to be expected, the world of 3001 differs remarkably from the worlds of 2001, 2010, and 2061. By the time the protagonist, Frank Poole (remember him?) is retrieved from the other side of the solar system, not only are inertial fields and genetically enhanced dinosaurs so ubiquitous as to go unnoticed, but Earth is a largely uninhabited place, where one's consciousness can be digitally scanned and stored indefinitely.
The plot of 3001, like the other books in Clarke's Odyssey series, is fairly basic. Humankind must try to puzzle what the monoliths want, and by the end of the book it is a race against time to prevent the extinction of the entire human race. When I began writing this review, I wondered why I couldn't remember the plots of 2001, 2010, and 2061. The answer, of course, was that they were all in a sense similar to that of 3001.
Which isn't to say that 3001 is a boring novel. It's really very good. It is also a satisfying conclusion to Clarke's Odyssey series, even if the end of the book is a bit implausible.
As a series, Clarke's Odyssey books are among the best that the science fiction genre has to offer. This series is probably the most firmly rooted in a modern understanding of scientific principles, and as such has a predictive power that never fails to excite the reader. It is also among the most consistently good series out there. Herbert's Dune series was good, but "Children of Dune" was too "literary" and "Chapterhouse" was a weak ending. Asimov's Foundation books started off with one of the great sci-fi trilogies of all time, but ended with inferior works such as "Foundation and Earth." Clarke's Odyssey books, by contrast, are good from the first novel to the last.