2001: A Space Odyssey Wiki
2001: A Space Odyssey Wiki

Walter Curnow is an American engineer who was enlisted on The Leonov, for the 2010 Jupiter mission, in Arthur C. Clarke’s 2010: Odyssey Two and its 1984 film adaption. Curnow originally designed Discovery 1.

2010: The Year We Make Contact[]

Curnow was one of three Americans, along with Dr. Chandra and Heywood Floyd, selected for the 2010 Jupiter mission. He brings with him his engineering and design experience of the Discovery 1.

As part of a joint Soviet/USA program, the American team is enlisted on The Leonov, a Soviet vessel that is installed with a Sakharov Drive for its propulsion system. The team was placed into hibernation until arriving to their destination.

Upon approach to the Discovery, orbiting Jupiter, Curnow and Soviet Maxim "Max" Brajlovsky, were selected to re-enter and stabilize the ship. The two managed to enter through the emergency airlock, and discovered that the ship still had a breathable atmosphere. After exploring the ship, they manged to restart its main functions.

When a Monolith was discovered in orbit around Jupiter, Curnow monitored Max as he examined it in an extravehicular pod. He was also the first to notice a problem and quickly warned Max to get out of there, but it was too late to save him before his pod was destroyed.

After the mission was over, and the Leonov left Jupiter's orbit, Curnow was placed back into suspended animation.

Friendship with Max[]

Curnow and Max became fast friends as they made their initial way to Discovery. Max helped the nervous and hyperventilating Curnow to Discovery's hull and then traverse the spine to the main hatch. After Floyd fails to assuage him with a phony joke, Curnow turns to Max for Russian translations of different English words, including "chicken" (kuritsa), "stupid" (durak), and later "thank you" (spasibo). Curnow is down on himself- using the aforementioned Russian words- for his problems, but Max tries to sympathize with him:

  • Curnow: "Durak". That's me.
    • Max: You shouldn't feel like that. Same thing happened to me first time I did this.
    • Curnow: When have you ever done this before?
    • Max: Never.

In turn, Curnow later corrects Max when he unintentionally jumbles up a couple of American metaphors, including "Easy as pie", and "piece of cake".

2010: Odyssey Two[]

In the novel, Curnow marries Katerina Rudenko. He does not survive to 2061.[3]