The following essay is a revised, expanded, footnoted, and illustrated version of an article that first appeared in Dawn.
The film director David Lean, responsible for such important works as Brief Encounter (1945), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), and Lawrence of Arabia (1962), once suggested that cinema had yet to produce a creative force comparable to Shakespeare or Beethoven.1 Film does not have as lengthy a pedigree as literature or music, of course, and Lean may have been right. But there is one director whose roaming intelligence, dedication to perfection, and impeccable craftsmanship are legendary, and to whom it would not be inappropriate to apply the moniker of genius: Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999).2
Kubrick was a maverick director, and largely self-taught. He did not attend university or film school, and did not apprentice with other filmmakers. He studied and appreciated many films, but did not identify with any of his contemporaries; as director Alex Cox once said of him, his primary influence was himself.3 In a career spanning almost half a century, he made only thirteen feature films, but almost every one of them is in a different genre, and a milestone in that genre. There are other filmmakers who have made a variety of great cinema (Howard Hawks, for example), but it is difficult to think of a director whose filmography consists almost entirely of some of the most extraordinary films ever made.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Kubrick directed a number of powerful films about crime and war, ranging from The Killing (1956) to Dr. Strangelove (1964). Shortly after the success of the latter, he turned his attention to science fiction, and the result was a masterwork often cited as the greatest film ever made: 2001: A Space Odyssey, a revolutionary production that not only altered science fiction, but cinema itself.
The film’s opening sequence is set millions of years ago, depicting the brutish struggle for existence of hominids who are the ancestors of mankind. One day a tall black rectangular monolith appears in their midst and causes something to change – one of the man-apes picks up a bone and discovers its use as a weapon. This new technology allows the man-apes to hunt for meat instead of foraging for plants. But they are also able to commit murder. In one of the most famous cuts in film history, a man-ape who has fended off rivals to a waterhole triumphantly tosses his bone in the air; the camera follows its spinning trajectory upwards to the apex of its journey, and just as the bone begins to fall the camera abruptly cuts to a similarly-shaped spacecraft floating down millions of years in the future.
The film’s second sequence now explores the beauty of spaceflight, with the classical music of Johann Strauss II accompanying the balletic movements of spacecraft. More than twenty minutes into the film and the first dialogue appears, as scientists discuss the purpose of a monolith that has recently been uncovered on the moon. The monolith sends a piercing radio signal to Jupiter, and the next segment of the film occurs eighteen months later aboard Discovery One, a spacecraft whose mission it is to investigate Jupiter. The ship is populated by astronauts Frank Poole, David Bowman, and three hibernating scientists, attended by the artificially intelligent HAL 9000 computer. But HAL malfunctions, murdering everyone except Bowman, who manages to disconnect him. Bowman then ventures out of the spacecraft to approach another monolith near Jupiter, where he is taken through a tremendous cosmic journey, only to end up in a strange bedroom. There he ages, and upon the moment of death a monolith appears again and transforms him into a new being; the film ends with this “Star Child” orbiting the Earth.
“What is man? And how did he come to be man?” asked the historian Oswald Spengler in his book Man and Technics. 4 His answer was: “through the genesis of the hand”, and there is little doubt that the ability to furnish and manipulate tools was a major factor in the rise of man. But what was the catalyst for this evolutionary development? Chance, as many modern biologists would have it? Directed evolution from extraterrestrials, as astronomer Fred Hoyle theorised?5 And what lies in store for man? Will he merge with the technology he has created? Evolve until he permeates the universe itself, as inventor Ray Kurzweil has predicted?6 Man, wrote the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, is only a bridge between ape and superman.7
Kubrick was familiar with this sentiment – it is no accident that the most powerful music in 2001 is Richard Strauss’ ‘Also sprach Zarathustra’, which was inspired by Nietzsche’s book of the same name (usually translated as Thus Spoke Zarathustra). In 2001 Kubrick eloquently brought to the screen the ancient questions regarding the origins and destiny of mankind.
Kubrick once suggested that he could film anything that could be written down8, but the reverse is not always true: a literary summary of 2001 does little to convey its power. The simple cut across millions of years from bone to spacecraft provides in a single moment a commentary on human evolution that would take pages of text to explicate. Is it expressing how far man has evolved? Or implying that the millennia have seen man merely replace one tool with another while remaining comparatively unevolved?
Sparse on dialogue, explanation, and plot, with mysterious and mystical images to inspire wonder, 2001 is beyond description. To write of this experience is as futile as describing a Mozart symphony to one who has never heard it. This was intentional: what Kubrick was endeavouring to do was to bypass the traditional techniques of filmmaking, and create something that would affect the viewer on a subconscious and emotional level. Doing so would require the utilisation of film as an essentially visual medium and to “abandon the conventional view of the movie as an extension of the three-act play”9. Indeed, despite its ostensibly visual nature, cinema is highly dependent on language. A film’s title, its credit sequences, its intertitles, its dialogue, its screenplay, and often its source material – all utilise language; a purely cinematic creation relying solely on images and symbols would be a difficult affair, and perhaps not even desirable.
But many viewers did not understand Kubrick’s aspiration. 2001 elicited polarised reviews upon its release in 1968, with some critics labelling it as pretentious and others venerating its boldness. Several prominent science fiction writers had little positive to say about the film. Michael Moorcock thought it was a “technology-heavy” film “barren of ideas”, and stated that it had left him and his fellow science fiction writers Brian Aldiss and J. G. Ballard cold.10 Lester del Rey complained that “nothing was explained”.11 Harlan Ellison criticised the film for not telling a story.12 Ray Bradbury, while acknowledging 2001‘s technological excellence and visual beauty, was irked by its “banal” dialogue, adding that “the test of the film is whether or not we care when one of the astronauts dies. We do not…”.13 What elicited these reactions? John Brosnan, in his history of science fiction film titled The Primal Screen, suggested that science fiction writers who championed technology as a route to progress and wrote of heroic Earthmen overcoming the odds disliked Kubrick’s rendition of the human race as “impotent, pathetic, helpless pawns of forces beyond its comprehension”.14
A comment by physicist Freeman Dyson is also worth considering. Dyson, like Bradbury, found 2001 vague and unsatisfactory because of the apparent “lack of human characterization”.15 But he also recognised that there seemed to be a generational divide in reactions to the film, with younger viewers finding it exciting and moving.16 Actor Gary Lockwood noted that at press conferences young people were querying him regarding the achievement of orbital velocity, while older questioners were asking him if he had met Doris Day.17 The youth of that time, therefore, seem to have been more inclined to embrace a cinematic experience without a pat resolution.
Older viewers were either unable or unwilling to accept 2001 on its own terms, and sought only to judge the film with preconceived notions, or to compare it with what they had seen before. To take Bradbury’s criticisms as an example, the banal dialogue in the film was deliberate, and footage from actual space missions such as that seen in the documentary For All Mankind (Al Reinert, 1989)18 demonstrates Kubrick’s accurate prognostication in this regard. In respect to Bradbury’s supposition that the film’s test is whether or not we sympathise with the characters, one can ask: why? Why is this the test? Are no other criteria possible? Bradbury perhaps failed to recognise that 2001 – akin to the ancient myths from which it drew some inspiration – is not so much about any single human being as it is about all of humanity.
The ideas that Kubrick espoused are human ideas; the absence of a monologue to explain them does not negate the fact that the film touches the core questions of human existence and spirituality, so much so that the Vatican listed it as one of the most significant films of all time.19
Because Kubrick was reluctant to explain the film in detail, it is not surprising that interpretations of his “mythological documentary”20 were varied. Some found 2001 ironical, while others thought it humourless. Some thought the film atheistic, others religious. Some understood what it had to say about the human condition as pessimistic, others thought it was optimistic. Many young people watched the film while high, somewhat ironic since both Clarke and Kubrick considered recreational drugs as a force that diminished critical faculties and artistic creativity.21 Conjecture regarding the film’s meanings ranges from the erudite to the ridiculous, and reveal more about the reviewers than they do about the film itself. Thus one can find speculation on HAL being gay,22 on spacecraft being shaped like a spermatozon,23 and so on. Not without reason did Kubrick rarely give interviews to critics, and dismissed their opinions as irrelevant.24 Of all the interpretations of the film, the one that Kubrick respected the most was written by a seventeen year old schoolgirl.25
When Kubrick set out to produce 2001, he enlisted the aid of Arthur C. Clarke, one of the masters of 20th century science fiction. Clarke was not an ordinary science fiction writer; as the inventor of the communications satellite and author of many non-fiction books on scientific matters, he straddled both science and science fiction. Taking inspiration from some of Clarke’s short stories, the pair worked simultaneously on the screenplay and the novel. In order to create a plausible vision of the future, Kubrick conferred with some of the most scientifically advanced minds of the time. He had meetings with astronomer Carl Sagan26 and artificial intelligence pioneer Marvin Minsky.27 NASA advisers Harry Lange and Frederick I. Ordway III aided in the design of spacecraft.28 Experts in simian behaviour were consulted for a realistic depiction of the hominids.29 Dozens of scientific institutes, military organisations, and corporations such as IBM and Boeing provided schematics, design concepts, documentation, and expertise.30 And all the while Kubrick and Clarke, both brilliant and well-read men, traded ideas back and forth while an army of technicians under Kubrick’s command developed new methods in makeup, film projection, and special effects. This level of effort was unprecedented; the science fiction genre was rarely taken seriously because of the carelessness of its fancy. When Minsky encountered Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, the scientist asked if the television show was not a good opportunity to introduce real science to the public. “No – too dangerous”, was Roddenberry’s response.31 Granted, Star Trek has inspired just as much awe – and just as many scientific careers – as 2001. But Kubrick’s knowledgeable approach was so grounded in hard science that an impressed Minsky suspected that Kubrick knew more about certain subjects than he himself did.32 Clarke thought that Kubrick was a genius,33 and one of the most intelligent people he had ever met.34
The collaboration between a film director and a major figure of science to create a cinematic work of science fiction is rare. Four decades before 2001, filmmaker Fritz Lang was aided by rocket pioneer Hermann Oberth for Woman in the Moon (1929). The decades after 2001 saw Robert Zemeckis adapt Carl Sagan’s novel Contact in 1997, and, most recently, theoretical physicist Kip S. Thorne advised Christopher Nolan on the latter’s Interstellar (2014).
In a 2013 interview for Entertainment Weekly, Nolan discussed the differences between Kubrick’s magnum opus and his own film: “There is such an inherent calm and inherent trust of the one powerful image, that he makes me embarrassed with my own work, in terms of how many different shots, how many different sound effects, how many different things we’ll throw at an audience to make an impression. But with Kubrick, there is such a great trust of the one correct image to calmly explain something to the audience. […] You look at the cut in 2001, this vast jump forward — the confidence that takes to do that is actually enormous. Would I love to do things like that in my own work? Yes. But I don’t think I have the confidence to do that. Which is why there is only one Stanley Kubrick.”35
Indeed, and only one 2001. Before Kubrick reinvented science fiction, he surveyed a large number of films and literature in the genre, finding most of them poor. It is not difficult to understand why. Films such as Irving Pichel’s Destination Moon (1950), Jack Arnold’s It Came From Outer Space (1953), Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville (1965), and François Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451 (1966) are almost laughable in their conceptualisations, and little remarked upon today. Even films such as Robert Wise’s The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951), Fred M. Wilcox’s Forbidden Planet (1956), and George Pal’s The Time Machine (1960), which are thought-provoking works still worthy of viewing today, are rather dated, their effect partly nullified by the simplicity or implausibility of their futurism. 2001, however, has dated very little even after fifty years. In For All Mankind, one can hear astronauts compare the spectacle of space with 2001, so accurate was the film’s vision. And when cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov saw the film, he told Clarke: “Now I feel I’ve been in space twice”.36
Unfortunately, the film’s special effects often attracted more attention than its thematic content. So 2001 did not lead to a plethora of imitation, at least not on the same cerebral level; instead, some have blamed it for inspiring big budget, special effects-driven science fiction blockbusters such as Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and George Lucas’ Star Wars (1977), neither of which are particularly intellectual films (Clarke derided the latter as peddling “technoporn”).37 Other filmmakers rebelled at Kubrick’s technical perfectionism: Andrei Tarkovsky, for example, was determined that his Solaris (1972) be as different from 2001 as possible.38 One is reminded of H. G. Wells’ similar insistence on distancing Things to Come (William Cameron Menzies, 1936) from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927).39 But Solaris and Things to Come, whatever their merits, live in the shadows of the epochal productions of Kubrick and Lang.
Kubrick’s bold fusion of art and science, of imagination and verity, of spirituality and technology, of the sublime and the banal, of the classic and the modern, of the Dionysian and the Apollonian, would arguably remain unrivalled until Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira (1986) and the Wachowski brothers’ ambitious Matrix saga (1999-2003). Perhaps unsurprisingly, all of these works, and other intelligent science fiction such as Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982) and Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell (1995), discuss the co-evolution of man and technology, and all of them possess ambiguous endings.40
For all too many film directors – and not a few viewers – cinema is mere entertainment. But Kubrick regarded film as the most powerful art form ever invented,41 and the duty of art to elevate.42 When one combines these perspectives with his intellect and knowledge, it is not an exaggeration to label Kubrick as a philosopher, a “conceptual illustrator of the human condition”, as Spielberg described him.43 As such, 2001 can be seen as a work of philosophy, not just because of its musings, but also for the manner in which it ponders. It is not too difficult to inject philosophical dialogue into a script, but this does not make a film intrinsically philosophical. However, by creating a non-verbal experience that deliberately contravened traditional narrative structures, 2001 challenged the very nature of communication and art.44 With its thoughtful use of the technological to convey the spiritual and induce the emotional, 2001 is itself a conflation of the Dionysian and the Apollonian. In this the film bears resemblance to Thus Spoke Zarathustra. In the introduction to his translation of that book, R. J. Hollingdale depicts Nietzsche as a man in whom “the dichotomy between thinking and feeling, between intellect and passion, has really disappeared.”45 Translator Graham Parkes has similarly highlighted the book’s resistance to simple categorisation as either art or philosophy: “whereas a treatise that articulates ideas or theories in terms of concepts asks that the reader assent to (or refute) their validity, a text like Zarathustra invites the reader to follow a train of thought through fields of imagery, and to participate in a play of imagination that engages the whole psyche rather than the intellect alone.”46
As much could be said about Kubrick’s films, a philosophical body of work that few Hollywood directors would dare to match in its ambiguity. Consequently, 2001 is not easy to digest, especially for modern film goers routinely subjected to busy, swiftly paced films with fast-cutting techniques and uncomplicated conclusions. Filmmaker Terry Gilliam summed it up rather well when, in an interview with Turner Classic Movies, he observed the differences between Kubrick and a director like Steven Spielberg; the latter’s films “are comforting – they give you answers […] and I don’t think they’re very clever answers”, whereas a director like Kubrick and a film like 2001 generates discussion and makes one think.47 This gulf between Kubrick and other directors may partly be due to Kubrick’s power: he was relatively unique in that he had full artistic control over his films. The rise of digital technology may also help to explain why there are no filmmakers like Kubrick today: with the ability to digitally insert or alter scenes with comparative ease, few directors are as fastidious or as technically creative as Kubrick was. But one suspects that his commitment to film as an art form was also a significant factor, for he often took years to develop a project, and involved himself in every stage of a film’s production, from the script and editing, to poster design48 and theatre projection.49
2001‘s impact on culture is too vast to adequately summarise. In terms of its influence on the film form, it ranks with works such as D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation (1915) and Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (1941). Welles thought Kubrick to be a giant.50 George Lucas regarded 2001 as the greatest science fiction film ever made.51 Martin Scorsese said, “every frame of 2001 made you aware that the possibilities for cinematic manipulations are indeed infinite […] it was at once a super-production, an experimental film, and a visionary poem”.52 Brian Aldiss, in his history of science fiction titled Billion Year Spree, perhaps identifying science fictional elements in Dr. Strangelove and A Clockwork Orange, suggested that “Kubrick should perhaps be acknowledged the great sf writer of the age.”53 A large number of astronauts and scientists have been inspired in their professions by Clarke and Kubrick, so much so that astronomical features have been named after the pair.54
In Michael Herr’s short but informative book about Kubrick, there is an anecdote in which John Calley, a friend of Kubrick’s, was pressed by the great director to read the unabridged edition of Sir James George Frazer’s monumental work on religion and mythology The Golden Bough. Calley said that he didn’t have time for mythology. Kubrick’s response could equally apply to his own films, and to 2001 in particular. “It isn’t mythology, John,” said Kubrick. “It’s your life.”55
Much has been written about Kubrick and 2001, and while some of the material is useful, one can detect a propensity for critics and reviewers to be unable to correctly register what is happening on the screen, interpret what they are seeing in almost laughable ways, and make rather avoidable errors. I mention several examples in the article above, the footnotes below, and in the following section reviewing books which I utilised for this article. This is not to disproportionately highlight poor reviewing, but to serve as a reminder of what good, thoughtful commentary should not be. Unfortunately, very few commentators on the film possess the education (or, one suspects, the interest) required to understand and explore what Kubrick and Clarke were trying to say. Thus, most of the reviews by professional film critics fail to discuss anthropology, mythology, artificial intelligence, extraterrestrial intelligence, or religion.
A. Books about Kubrick and his work in general:
1. Michael Herr, Kubrick (Picador, 2001). Pp.98. ISBN: 0330481134. Illustrated.
Herr is best known for his contributions to the literature on the Vietnam War, having written the book Dispatches, the narration for the film Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979), and co-written the screenplay for Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket (1987). This short book provides some insight into Kubrick’s personality, as well as his taste in films and books. On p.37 Herr refers to 2001‘s HAL 9000 computer as “sexually ambivalent” (whatever that means), reminding one of the curious obsession by a number of critics to lend a computer sexual characteristics. See note 19.
2. Paul Duncan, Stanley Kubrick (Pocket Essentials, 2002). Pp.96. ISBN: 1903047013.
This short and amateurish book is a revised and updated edition of a book first published in 1999. The book breaks down each film into sections: Cast, Crew, Story, Visual Ideas, Audio Ideas, Themes, and so on. While the book does provide the occasional nugget of useful information, it is severely marred by inanity. For instance, in order to find non-existent connections between films, the author has discovered (or invented) “themes” which are common to two or more films. So in Spartacus and 2001 we have the theme of “Nice To Animals”, because the former shows “little birds coming out of eggs” (p.40), while in the latter Heywood Floyd’s daughter wants a bush baby (p.58). And, apparently, one of the themes of Spartacus is “Artificial Bodies” (p.41). This sort of dubious “analysis” is probably why Kubrick disliked critics.
Some rather basic errors don’t help matters. On p.43 JFK is referred to as “President John F Kennedy Jr” (my italics). P.57 mentions Bowman running around the deck of the Discovery in 2001, but it is the character of Poole who does this.
On p.74, the author describes The Shining as “annoying” because it is “almost completely incomprehensible when analysed – it’s a waking dream”, and later goes on to say “I don’t think it is meant to make complete sense because it is a waking nightmare” (p.76). One presumes that the author was unaware of Kubrick’s statement that “the truth of a thing is in the feel of it, not the think of it”,56 and would have trouble embracing the idea.
3. Gene D. Phillips (ed.), Stanley Kubrick: Interviews (University Press of Mississippi, 2000). Pp.xxvi+207. ISBN: 9781578062973. Index.
An Introduction, Chronology, and Filmography is followed by 16 interviews with Kubrick, the lengthiest and most significant of which is the Playboy interview of 1968.
The main reason to read this book is to obtain information about Kubrick’s views and methodologies directly from Kubrick himself. Since Kubrick had a low opinion of critics and gave interviews sporadically, this collection of interviews from various points in his career is quite useful. While most of the interviewers are intelligent and put forth thoughtful queries or commentary, some occasionally ask banal questions or make silly statements. Some examples:
Elaine Dundy asks Kubrick what he does with his money (“Do you buy clothes?” – p.13).
Joseph Gelmis inaccurately states that Kubrick was a chess hustler in his youth (p.81). Kubrick did play chess for money, but this is not the same thing as hustling. Gelmis goes on to say that because Kubrick’s last film (2001) was set in the 21st century and his next film (the unrealised Napoleon project) is to be set in the 19th century, this indicates that Kubrick isn’t very interested in 20th century life (p.87). Apart from making the obvious fallacy that not making films set in the 20th century means that one is disinterested in that century, Gelmis is seemingly unaware that of the eight feature films that Kubrick had directed up to this point, six were set in the 20th century.
Gene D. Phillips claims that because Fritz Lang’s 1927 science fiction film Metropolis is set in the year 2000 and Kubrick’s science fiction film is set in the year 2001, the latter is a deliberate homage to the former. I have not encountered any evidence that Metropolis is set in 2000, nor that Kubrick regarded his own film as a tribute to Lang’s. And there is contrary evidence regarding Kubrick’s views on Metropolis, with his daughter Katharina Kubrick-Hobbs stating that he liked the film, while his long-time assistant Anthony Frewin declares the opposite.57
4. Alison Castle (ed.), The Stanley Kubrick Archives (Taschen, 2016). Pp.861. ISBN: 9783836555821. Illustrated.
This is a smaller version of a book first published in 2005, provided “at an unbeatable, democratic price!” according to the rear dustjacket flap. It is without doubt the most beautiful of all the books surveyed here, and the best single volume on Kubrick I have come across. Interviews with Kubrick and essays on his films are accompanied by hundreds of stills, behind-the-scenes photographs, and images of notes, letters, scripts, and other archival material. There are chapters dedicated to incomplete or abandoned projects such as Napoleon and A.I. The book is rounded off by a chronology of the director’s life and career, and a bibliography of materials by and about Kubrick. It also contains a few pieces by Kubrick himself, including a transcript of a conversation between the director and novelist Joseph Heller, the two of them discussing their respective satires of war Dr. Strangelove and Catch-22. Another valuable inclusion is the piece by Anthony Frewin (Kubrick’s assistant for many years), which lists the books that the director studied in order to understand the subjects of artificial and extraterrestrial intelligence for 2001. Frewin also relates Kubrick’s fondness for scholarly works with footnotes. Footnotes, said Kubrick, were where the “real action” was.58
Much of the material here is only available in this book, undoubtedly because it was produced in cooperation with Christiane Kubrick (Kubrick’s wife), Jan Harlan (Kubrick’s brother-in-law), and The Stanley Kubrick Estate.
The contributions by Herb Lightman are shorter versions of pieces that appear in Schwam’s The Making of 2001: A Space Odyssey. “Modern Times: An Interview with Stanley Kubrick” can also be found in Phillip’s Stanley Kubrick: Interviews, but the latter version includes a short introduction not found in The Stanley Kubrick Archives.
The review of 2001 by Margaret Stackhouse – which was praised by Kubrick – is also included here, except that Stackhouse is described as being fifteen years old, while Agel’s The Making of Kubrick’s 2001 (which published the review decades earlier), mentions Stackhouse as being seventeen. Agel also mentions that Stackhouse was in her junior year at high school when she wrote her review, which suggests that the age of seventeen is the correct one.
This is the only error I have identified, and the book blessedly refrains from including the sort of nonsensical analysis which I have critiqued in this essay, the kind of writing which Kubrick himself might have referred to as “bull crit”.59
B. Books about 2001: A Space Odyssey:
5. Jerome Agel (ed.), The Making of Kubrick’s 2001 (New American Library, 1970). Pp.368.
Of all the books that I have surveyed on 2001, this is by far the most informative, containing much information not found elsewhere, and often quoted in other books. It contains quotations from Kubrick, Clarke, and cast and crew members, critical reviews, Clarke’s short story The Sentinel, transcripts of interviews with scientists who were originally going to appear as the film’s prologue (Freeman Dyson, Frank Drake, etc.), behind the scenes photographs, fan letters, a section detailing which corporations and organisations were consulted for the film as well as their contributions, the Playboy interview with Kubrick, parodies, errors, and much more.
Unfortunately, this book has been out of print for a long time. Some of the material has been reproduced elsewhere (such as in the book edited by Schwam: see below), but this only amounts to a few dozen pages. However, the book can be read online in its entirety at: https://issuu.com/lcohailag/docs/the-making-of-kubricks-2001.
6. Stephanie Schwam (ed.), The Making of 2001: A Space Odyssey (The Modern Library, 2000). Pp.xviii+326. ISBN: 0375755284.
This book is similar to Agel’s book in scope, and while it is very informative it is not as comprehensive or enlightening as the above. Some of the material from Agel is reproduced here, along with interviews with cast and crew, Clarke’s short story The Sentinel, critical reviews, the Playboy interview with Kubrick, and a filmography. Those unable to procure a copy of Agel and who are unwilling to read it online could do much worse than this book.
As usual, some questionable statements can be found in some of the reviews. A long review by Tim Hunter, Stephen Kaplan and Peter Jaszi, first published in the Harvard Crimson, offers the following gobbeldygook: “the final transfiguration […] suggests[s] that evolutionary progress may in fact be cyclical, perhaps in the shape of a helix formation” (p.151). The authors go on to say that “The Killing and Lolita both involve man’s self-expression through the automobile” (p.154). Bob McClay of Rolling Stone denies that the film is science fiction (p.163.), and speculates on HAL being gay (p.165). Joseph Morgenstern of Newsweek describes the famous cut from bone to satellite as a “dissolve” (p.174). Max Kozloff of Film Culture says that the transition is from bone to the space plane Orion (p.180).60 Annette Michelson’s review for Artforum contains perhaps the most gibberish: “its evolution hypostatizes the accelerating dynamics of History” (pp.194-195); “Seeing Kubrick’s Space Odyssey, we sense, we know, that its ontogeny recapitulates a philogeny” (p.196); “we are dealing, then, with a ‘breakthrough work’, whose substance and function fuse in the synthetic radicalization of its metaphors” (p.197); “the subject and theme of A Space Odyssey emerge, then, as neither social nor metaphysical; they develop elsewhere, between, in a genetic epistemology” (p.205). Gene Youngblood, in an interview with Clarke for Free Press, states that he doesn’t “believe the idea of capitalistic free enterprise is so realistic at that stage of evolution”, and chides Clarke as irresponsible for even suggesting that “ownership” might occur in future space travel. Clarke’s intelligent response: “I don’t believe in the existence of free enterprise” (p.263).
7. Dan Richter, Moonwatcher’s Memoir – A Diary of 2001: A Space Odyssey (Carroll & Graf, 2002). Pp.xv+157. ISBN: 078671073X. Illustrated; index.
Richter, who played the man-ape “Moonwatcher” and who was also partly responsible for choreographing the “Dawn of Man” segment, provides much useful behind-the-scenes information about the development and research that went into producing these sequences, and cites the specific books and authors that Kubrick and Clarke had studied and encouraged Richter to read. The book features an introduction by Clarke, which is a modified version of Chapter 6 of The Lost Worlds of 2001.
8. David G. Stork (ed.), HAL’s Legacy – 2001′s Computer as Dream and Reality (The MIT Press, 1997). Pp.xxi+384. ISBN: 9780262692113. Illustrated; index.
This book focuses on the HAL 9000 computer, and consists of articles by scientists on the realism of HAL and the implications of Artificial Intelligence. Some of the noteworthy contributors include: Murray S. Campbell (part of the IBM Deep Blue team that challenged chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov in 1996), AI pioneer Marvin Minsky (who was consulted by Kubrick for the film), Stephen Wolfram (author of the fascinating book A New Kind of Science), and inventor Ray Kurzweil (author of several intriguing books on AI and its implications for mankind). The one sour note is the article by Donald A. Norman, who smugly nitpicks the design of the film, and makes the erroneous statement that all women in the film are referred to as “girls”. The introduction by Clarke was reprinted in a shortened form in Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds!
C. Books by Arthur C. Clarke:
9. Arthur C. Clarke, The Lost Worlds of 2001 (Sidgwick & Jackson, 1982). Pp.240. ISBN: 0283986115.
This is Clarke’s personal account of the genesis of the novel and film, and contains much insight about how he and Kubrick exchanged and developed ideas. The book also includes the short story The Sentinel, excised and alternate drafts of chapters from the novel, excerpts from a diary and log that Clarke kept during the film’s production, and other useful behind-the-scenes information.
Chapter 6 was with some modifications reprinted as the foreword to the book Moonwatcher’s Memoir. Chapters 2 and 11, titled “Son of Dr. Strangelove” and “The Birth of HAL” respectively, share titles with other essays by Clarke, but the content is different.
10. Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey (New American Library, 1982). Pp.226. ISBN: 0451118642.
While there are differences between the film and the book, and despite Clarke’s own statement that the ending of the novel is his own interpretation of the story and not necessarily Kubrick’s,61 reading the novel will undoubtedly aid those who found aspects of the film puzzling. My edition of this novel contains a foreword by Clarke, the text of the novel, and an epilogue titled “After 2001”. It also contains a 16-page insert of black-and-white stills from the film. Neither the epilogue nor the photo-insert are to be found in all editions.
In subsequent decades, Clarke produced three sequels: 2010: Odyssey Two, 2061: Odyssey Three, and 3001: The Final Odyssey. The first sequel was adapted into a film by Peter Hyams in 1984.
11. Arthur C. Clarke, Report on Planet Three and Other Speculations (The Scientific Book Club, 1973). Pp.xii+249.
This collection of some of Clarke’s non-fiction essays contains two pieces on the production and reception of 2001, titled “Son of Dr. Strangelove” and “The Myths of 2001”. The former was written during the film’s production, the latter after the film’s release for the April 1969 issue of the magazine Cosmos. “Son of Dr. Strangelove” was reprinted in a shortened form in Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds!; a chapter from The Lost Worlds of 2001 has an identical title, but with different content.
12. Arthur C. Clarke, Ian T. Macauley (ed.), Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds! (Voyager, 1999). Pp.xvii+558. Illustrated; index.
This tome contains more than 100 non-fiction essays written by Clarke over the decades, several of which are relevant to 2001. “Satyajit and Stanley” (previously unpublished) recounts the meeting between Kubrick and the great Indian film director Satyajit Ray. “Son of Dr. Strangelove” is a shortened and slightly rewritten version of the essay found in Report on Planet Three. “The Birth of HAL” is a shortened and slightly rewritten version of the introduction written for HAL’s Legacy. “Back to 2001” is a reprint of an article that first appeared in the 2003 ROC edition of 2001: A Space Odyssey. “Carl Sagan” is a shortened version of “Space Sage”, which first appeared in the Times Higher Education Supplement, 12 December, 1997. The shortened version omits the passages revealing that Kubrick did not seem to like Sagan very much.
D. Other printed materials:
13. Cinefex 85 (April 2001).
This issue of the film magazine contains a lengthy article by Don Shay and Jody Duncan titled “2001: A Time Capsule”. Around forty pages in length and containing many behind-the-scenes photographs, the article explores the special effects development of the film, with interview material from effects supervisors Wally Gentleman and Douglas Trumbull, production designer Tony Masters, makeup artist Stuart Freeborn, and cinematographer John Alcott. Those interested in the technical challenges of the film will find this article useful.
14. Freeman Dyson, Disturbing the Universe (Basic Books, Inc., 1979). Pp.xii+285. ISBN: 0465016774. Notes; index.
This collection of essays by Freeman Dyson contains a chapter titled “A Distant Mirror”, in which the scientist spends several pages describing his experiences working on 2001.
15. Carl Sagan, The Cosmic Connection – An Extraterrestrial Perspective (Coronet Books, 1975). Pp.xiii+274. ISBN: 0340196823. Illustrated; index.
This collection of essays by Carl Sagan contains a chapter titled “‘Hello, Central Casting? Send Me Twenty Extraterrestrials'”, in which the scientist briefly describes his encounter with Kubrick to discuss the nature of extraterrestrial life.
16. Harry Harrison (ed.), Brian Aldiss (ed.), The Year’s Best Science Fiction, No.2 (Sphere Books, 1970), p.115.
This volume includes four reviews of 2001, by Lester del Rey, Samuel R. Delany, Ed Emshwiller, and Leon E. Stover.
- “David Lean: A Self Portrait” (documentary), in Brief Encounter (David Lean, 1945) DVD; Criterion Collection, 2016.
- Kubrick was modest about his own accomplishments, saying that the creation of fiction “is one of the most phenomenal human achievements. And I have never done it.” (Martha Duffy and Richard Schickel, “Kubrick’s Grandest Gamble: Barry Lyndon“, in Gene D. Phillips [ed.], Stanley Kubrick: Interviews [University Press of Mississippi, 2001], p.166.)
- Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures (Jan Harlan, 2001) DVD; Warner Brothers, 2007.
- Oswald Spengler, Man and Technics – A Contribution to a Philosophy of Life (Alfred A. Knopf, 1940), p.35.
- See his books Evolution From Space and The Intelligent Universe.
- See his book The Singularity is Near – When Humans Transcend Biology (Viking, 2005).
- There are many different translations of this sentiment from Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Walter Kaufmann renders it as “Man is a rope, tied between beast and overman” (The Portable Nietzsche [Chatto & Windus, 1971], p.126), while R. J. Hollingdale translates it as “Man is a rope, fastened between animal and Superman” (Thus Spoke Zarathustra [Penguin Books, 1971], p.43). Kubrick himself phrased it as: “Man is said to be the missing link between ape and civilised human being” (Jerome Agel [ed.], The Making of Kubrick’s 2001 [New American Library, 1970], p.134).
- Jerome Agel (ed.), The Making of Kubrick’s 2001 (New American Library, 1970), p.11.
- Joseph Gelmis, “The Film Director as Superstar: Stanley Kubrick”, in Gene D. Phillips (ed.), Stanley Kubrick: Interviews (University Press of Mississippi, 2001), p.90.
- Michael Moorcock, “Brave New Worlds”, The Guardian, 22 March, 2008: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2008/mar/22/arthurcclarke. But see Aldiss’ praise of Kubrick below.
- Lester del Rey, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Galaxy Magazine, Vol.26, No.6, July 1968, in Harry Harrison (ed.), Brian Aldiss (ed.), The Year’s Best Science Fiction, No.2 (Sphere Books, 1970), p.115. Rey also thought that the monolith on the moon was there for no reason (!)
- Jerome Agel (ed.), The Making of Kubrick’s 2001 (New American Library, 1970), p.299.
- John Brosnan, The Primal Screen – A History of Science Fiction Film (Orbit Books, 1991), p.146.
- Jerome Agel (ed.), The Making of Kubrick’s 2001 (New American Library, 1970), p.309.
- Commentary track, 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968) DVD; Warner Video, 2008.
- For All Mankind (Al Reinert, 1989) DVD; Criterion Collection, 2009. Criterion originally released this film on DVD in 2000; the 2009 re-issue contains more special features than the older release, and is thus the preferred version. In the film one can occasionally see astronauts engaging in banal banter and behaving somewhat childishly – this sort of behaviour is even mentioned by Apollo 17 commander Eugene A. Cernan in the film’s commentary track, who explains the reason for it as being the need to release tension.
- To commemorate the 100th anniversary of cinema in 1995, the Vatican compiled a list of 45 important films, 2001 amongst them. The list is floating around the Web (see, for example: https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/blog/how-many-of-the-45-vatican-approved-important-films-have-you-seen), but I have been unable to discover an official source.
- This description of the film by Kubrick himself is mentioned by Alexander Walker; see his “2001: A Space Odyssey Re-viewed”, in Stephanie Schwam (ed.), The Making of 2001: A Space Odyssey (The Modern Library, 2000), p.238.
- Kubrick’s position on the subject can be found in Charlie Kohler, “Stanley Kubrick Raps”, in Stephanie Schwam (ed.), The Making of 2001: A Space Odyssey (The Modern Library, 2000), p.254; and in “Playboy Interview”, in Stephanie Schwam (ed.), The Making of 2001: A Space Odyssey (The Modern Library, 2000), p.291; Clarke’s view can be found in Gene Youngblood, “Free Press Interview: Arthur C. Clarke”, in Stephanie Schwam (ed.), The Making of 2001: A Space Odyssey (The Modern Library, 2000), p.264.
- See, for example: Jerome Agel (ed.), The Making of Kubrick’s 2001 (New American Library, 1970), p.276; and the review by Bob McClay for Rolling Stone, in Stephanie Schwam (ed.), The Making of 2001: A Space Odyssey (The Modern Library, 2000), p.165. In an interview with Kubrick in 1970, Joseph Gelmis asked, “Some critics have detected in HAL’s wheedling voice an undertone of homosexuality. Was that intended?” Kubrick’s response: “No. I think it’s become something of a parlor game for some people to read that kind of thing into everything they encounter. HAL was a ‘straight’ computer.” (Joseph Gelmis, “The Film Director as Superstar: Stanley Kubrick”, in Gene D. Phillips [ed.], Stanley Kubrick: Interviews [University Press of Mississippi, 2001], p.94.)
- Jerome Agel (ed.), The Making of Kubrick’s 2001 (New American Library, 1970), p.264. One contemporary review found sperm-shaped objects in at least two moments in the film; see Leon E. Stover, “Apeman, Superman – or, 2001’s Answer to the World Riddle”, in Harry Harrison (ed.), Brian Aldiss (ed.), The Year’s Best Science Fiction, No.2 (Sphere Books, 1970), p.120-126. Stover also states that the time period between the moon monolith’s signal emission and the Discovery‘s journey to Jupiter is “a decade or so”. He seems not to have noticed the title card “Jupiter Mission – 18 Months Later”, and also seems not to have heard the dialogue where Bowman stumbles upon a prerecorded message informing him about the discovery of the moon monolith 18 months earlier. Science fiction writer Samuel R. Delany’s review displays similar sexual obsessions i.e. he describes a spaceship as “sperm-shaped”; see Samuel R. Delany, “Review of 2001: A Space Odyssey”, in Harry Harrison (ed.), Brian Aldiss (ed.), The Year’s Best Science Fiction, No.2 (Sphere Books, 1970), p.116-118.
- Kubrick once opined that “explaining” art “contributes nothing but a superficial ‘cultural’ value which has no value except for critics and teachers who have to earn a living.” (Joseph Gelmis, “The Film Director as Superstar: Stanley Kubrick”, in Gene D. Phillips [ed.], Stanley Kubrick: Interviews [University Press of Mississippi, 2000], p.91.) When asked in 1971 if had ever read a critic who taught him something new about one of his own films, Kubrick replied: “No. Very few critics work carefully, thoughtfully enough. To see a film once and write a review is an absurdity.” (John Hofsess, “Mind’s Eye: A Clockwork Orange“, in Gene D. Phillips [ed.], Stanley Kubrick: Interviews [University Press of Mississippi, 2000], pp.105-106.) While Kubrick certainly has a point, and superficial reviews abound, not all efforts at explicating art are worthless. 2001 is a case in point, for while much of the discourse surrounding the film can be categorised as a “parlor game”, one can certainly find thoughtful analyses which induce the reader to not only look at the film in a new way, but at other tangentially related subjects as well. But years after his death, Kubrick was still being criticised for his reluctance to help critics make a living; one writer petulantly wrote of Kubrick’s “utterly unreasonable, absolutely outrageous, and really rather unforgivable desire to limit his interaction with journalists”. See Jeff Jensen, “‘Room 237’: Exploring Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Shining’ influence”, Entertainment Weekly, 6 April, 2013: https://ew.com/article/2013/04/06/room-237-stanley-kubrick-shining-influence/.
- Jerome Agel (ed.), The Making of Kubrick’s 2001 (New American Library, 1970), p.201.
- Clarke’s recounting of the discussions that took place between Kubrick, Sagan, and himself, were first published in the article “Space Sage”, Times Higher Education Supplement, 12 December, 1997, a shorter version of which can be found as “Carl Sagan”, in Arthur C. Clarke, Ian T. Macauley (ed.), Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds! (Voyager, 1999), pp.516-517. The latter version removes passages indicating Kubrick’s dislike for Sagan. Sagan’s own account can be found in “‘Hello, Central Casting? Send Me Twenty Extraterrestrials'”, in Carl Sagan, The Cosmic Connection- An Extraterrestrial Perspective (Coronet Books, 1975), pp.181-184.
- For Minsky’s recollections on his meeting with Kubrick, see David G. Stork, “Scientist on the Set: An Interview with Marvin Minsky”, in David G. Stork (ed.), HAL’s Legacy: 2001‘s Computer as Dream and Reality (The MIT Press, 1997), pp.15-31.
- Ordway’s thoughts on the film’s production can be found in Stephanie Schwam (ed.), The Making of 2001: A Space Odyssey (The Modern Library, 2000), pp.124-129.
- Dan Richter, who played the main hominid “Moonwatcher”, wrote a book about his involvement in the film, titled Moonwatcher’s Memoir: A Diary of 2001: A Space Odyssey (Carroll & Graf, 2002), in which he details the research that was carried out for the film.
- A list of such organisations and their contributions can be found in Jerome Agel (ed.), The Making of Kubrick’s 2001 (New American Library, 1970), pp.321-324.
- David G. Stork (ed.), HAL’s Legacy: 2001‘s Computer as Dream and Reality (The MIT Press, 1997), p.26.
- Ibid., p.19.
- Arthur C. Clarke, The Lost Worlds of 2001 (Sidgwick & Jackson, 1982), p.33.
- Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures (Jan Harlan, 2001) DVD; Warner Brothers, 2007.
- Jeff Jensen, “‘Room 237’: Exploring Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Shining’ Influence”, Entertainment Weekly, 6 April, 2013: https://ew.com/article/2013/04/06/room-237-stanley-kubrick-shining-influence/2/.
- Arthur C. Clarke, “Close Encounter with Cosmonauts”, Omni, September 1990, as reprinted in Arthur C. Clarke, Ian T. Macauley (ed.), Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds! (Voyager, 1999), pp.369-370.
- Arthur C. Clarke, “What Is to Be Done”, The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, May 1992, reprinted as “Scenario for a Civilized Planet”, in Arthur C. Clarke, Ian T. Macauley (ed.), Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds! (Voyager, 1999), p.423. Another titan of science fiction – Isaac Asimov – held similar views. Asimov enjoyed the spectacle of Star Wars but regarded it as “utterly brainless”. (Isaac Asimov, “What Makes Good Science Fiction?”, TV Guide, 24 December, 1997, reprinted in Isaac Asimov, Asimov on Science Fiction [Granada Publishing, 1993], p.270.) Viewing Close Encounters of the Third Kind left him “appalled”. (Isaac Asimov, “The Reluctant Critic”, Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, November-December, 1978, reprinted in Isaac Asimov, Asimov on Science Fiction [Granada Publishing, 1993], p.306.)
- Commentary track, Solaris (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1972) DVD; Criterion Collection, 2011. Criterion originally released this film on DVD in 2002; the 2011 re-issue has the same special features as the older release, but has an improved transfer, and is thus the preferred version. According to Eduard Artemyev, who composed music for some of Tarkovsky’s films, the latter liked to include in his work visual and aural references to classical paintings and music in order to confer upon films a link with the great classical artistic traditions of the past – a pedigree which film did not possess because of its comparatively recent development. Film, thought Tarkovsky, was not a new art, but merely a new form of presentation. If this is an accurate portrayal of Tarkovsky’s views, then it stands in stark contrast to Kubrick, who, as noted above, considered film to be a new art form, and strove to explore it. (See “Interview with Eduard Artemyev”, Stalker [Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979] DVD; Criterion Collection, 2017.)
- “Christopher Frayling on the Design”, Things to Come (William Cameron Menzies, 1936) DVD; Criterion Collection, 2013.
- Naturally, a lot of science fiction discusses technology, but the films mentioned here have thematically similar endings: in all of them the main protagonists have physically evolved beyond their usual selves into a new kind of intelligent life form, the ultimate fate of which is uncertain. In Blade Runner the evolution is more psychological than physical, but the ambiguity remains.
- Charlie Kohler, “Stanley Kubrick Raps”, in Stephanie Schwam (ed.), The Making of 2001: A Space Odyssey (The Modern Library, 2000), p.255.
- Philip Strick and Penelope Houston, “Modern Times: An Interview with Stanley Kubrick”, in Gene D. Phillips (ed.), Stanley Kubrick: Interviews (University Press of Mississippi, 2000), p.130. Said Kubrick: “[…] a work of art must either make life more enjoyable or more endurable. Another quality […] is that a work of art is always exhilarating and never depressing, whatever its subject matter may be”. Kubrick also said that “the very meaninglessness of life forces man to create his own meaning. […] However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light,” (Eric Norden, “Playboy Interview with Stanley Kubrick”, in Stephanie Schwam [ed.], The Making of 2001: A Space Odyssey [The Modern Library, 2000], p.298-299). In 2001, Kubrick not only created an illuminating work of art faithful to his own apsirations, but also fulfilled the potential and promise (according to Clarke) of science fiction: to both educate and inspire (See Arthur C. Clarke, “Kalinga Prize Speech”, in Arthur C. Clarke, Ian T. Macauley (ed.), Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds! (Voyager, 1999), p.247.
- Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures (Jan Harlan, 2001) DVD; Warner Brothers, 2007.
- One is reminded of the Epicurean philosopher Metrodorus’ dictum that “philosophy is the only expertness in affairs which perceives its own end” (Sextus Empiricus, R. G. Bury [tr.], Against the Professors [Harvard University Press], p.37). My reprint of this volume from the Loeb Classical Library series has a ISBN number and website address on the dustjacket, but only “First published 1949” is stated on the copyright page. Even the official Loeb Classical Library webpage only lists the original date of publication, for some reason, and not the date of the reprint: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674994201.
- Friedrich Nietzsche, R. J. Hollingdale (tr.), Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Penguin Books, 1971), p.12.
- Friedrich Nietzsche, Graham Parkes (tr.), Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Oxford University Press, 2005), p.xvii.
- The interview can be seen here: http://www.openculture.com/2011/11/terry_gilliam_on_filmmakers.html
- Elaine Dundy, “Stanley Kubrick and Dr. Strangelove“, in Gene D. Phillips (ed.), Stanley Kubrick: Interviews (University Press of Mississippi, 2000), p.11.
- “Exploding Myths: Richard Daniels on the Stanley Kubrick Archive” (documentary), in Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick, 1964) DVD; Criterion Collection, 2016.
- Juan Cobos Miguel Rubio, Jose Antonio Pruneda, Rose Kaplin (translator), “Orson Welles”, Cahiers du Cinema, No.5, 1966, in Andrew Sarris (ed.), Interviews With Film Directors (Discus Books/Avon Books, 1969), p.554.
- James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction, Part 2: Outer Space (documentary) (AMC, 2018).
- A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies, Part 2: The Director as Illusionist (documentary) (Martin Scorsese/Michael Henry Wilson, 1995).
- Brian W. Aldiss, Billion Year Spree – The History of Science Fiction (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1973), p.261.
- Robin McKie, “Kubrick’s 2001: the film that haunts our dreams of space”, The Guardian, 15 April, 2018: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/apr/15/2001-a-space-odyssey-film-haunts-dream-space.
- Michael Herr, Kubrick (Picador, 2001), pp.9-10.
- Michaela Williams, “2001: Where Did it Go Right?”, The Chicago Daily News Panorama, in Jerome Agel (ed.), The Making of Kubrick’s 2001 (New American Library, 1970), p.276.
- Nick Wrigley, “Stanley Kubrick, cinephile”, Sight & Sound, 8 February 2018: http://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/sight-sound-magazine/polls-surveys/stanley-kubrick-cinephile.
- Appropriately, this quirk is revealed by Frewin in an endnote. See Anthony Frewin, “Stanley Kubrick and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence”, in Alison Castle (ed.), The Stanley Kubrick Archives (Taschen, 2016), p.424.
- Similar errors were made by Frederic Jameson in an essay on cinematic depictions of spaceflight, in which he states that the transition is from bone to space shuttle. In the same piece he incorrectly refers to David Bowie’s song “Space Oddity” as “Major Tom”. And for some reason, he continually refers to the monolith as a “megalith” (though this may be a stylistic device to highlight the ancient nature of the alien artifact). See Frederic Jameson, “The Square Peg in the Round Hole or the History of Spaceflight”, Critical Inquiry, Vol. 34 No. 5 (2008), pp.172-183.
- Arthur C. Clarke, “The Myth of 2001”, Cosmos, April 1969, in Arthur C. Clarke, Report on Planet Three and Other Speculations (The Scientific Book Club, 1973), p.249.