This was what started it all off -- the first book I wrote. It began as an office bet while I was working in computer sales.
Although there was much that I enjoyed about the movie "2001," I never understood the ending. I listened to all kinds of ingenious interpretations, but they were all mutually contradictory, and I suspected existed more in the eyes of the people doing the interpreting than in anything objective out there, that they were seeing. So one day I was complaining about this in the office. Probably more to shut me up because there was work to do, one of the other sales engineers said what we all say at some time or other: "If you think you can write something that makes more sense, do it." I said okay I would, and a bunch of us ended up betting on whether I'd get it published. Well it was, and I was launched into a completely new career as a consequence.
The punch line to it all was that years later, after I had moved to the U.S. and was living in Massachusetts, I had dinner with Judy Lynn Del Rey and Arthur C. Clarke in Boston one night and was finally able to ask him -- the ultimate source -- "What did the ending to that movie mean?" And Arthur's answer was, "I haven't the faintest idea." It was based on his short story "Sentinel," and apparently none of the Hollywood people involved could agree on how to end it. Arthur walked away and left them arguing over it. "And that was what they came up with," he said. "I've never really understood it either."
Before finishing Inherit the Stars, I realized that there was another story to be told -- concerning an extinct alien race, relics of which had been found in the course of further lunar exploration. The sequel, The Gentle Giants of Ganymede, followed in 1978, and the "Giants" series eventually grew to include Giants' Star, Entoverse and Mission to Minerva.
The first three novels have been packaged into a single volume as The Minervan Experiment, by the Nelson Doubleday Book Club and The Giants Novels, by Ballantine/Del Rey. The first two novels have been reissued in paperback under the title The Two Moons, by Baen Books.