Well, certainly no one could have been unaware of the very strange stories floating around before we left. Rumors about something being dug up on the moon. I never gave these stories much credence. But particularly in view of some of the other things that have happened, I find them difficult to put out of my mind. For instance, the way all our preparations were kept under such tight security and the melodramatic touch of putting Dr.’s Hunter, Kimball, and Kaminsky aboard, already in hibernation after four months of separate training on their own.
"2001" is a story of evolution. Sometime in the distant past, someone or something nudged evolution by placing a monolith on Earth (presumably elsewhere throughout the universe as well). Evolution then enabled humankind to reach the moon's surface, where yet another monolith is found, one that signals the monolith placers that humankind has evolved that far. Now a race begins between computers (HAL) and human (Bowman) to reach the monolith placers. The winner will achieve the next step in evolution, whatever that may be.