I was all of 16, popcorn in hand, watching the most peculiar film. Confused and curious I saw apes and airborne bones, spaceships, stars and perfect monolithic structures that foretold the essence of an all-knowing being. I watched in wonder at a renegade talking computer that seals the fate of astronauts pursuing the message of a distant alien beacon. And then to top it all off an incredible light show intended to show the passage of one’s soul through another dimension right before my very eyes in 1968. I like many people, left the theater scratching my head and wondering what exactly did I just see? Space Odyssey 2001 was probably the only film I went back to the theater to see six times. Of course being at that youthful age, some of the impetus was to see that incredible light show in a cannabis- induced altered state of mind. John Dykstra’s montage of colorful landscapes in high-speed superimposed in various colorful grids is quite dated in 2008, but back then there were no computerized graphics, no teams of visual design wizards, just plain old ordinary inventiveness.
Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Krubrick teamed up to produce a screenplay to attempt to show the future of humanity 33 years from the film’s debut. Of course, Mr. Krubrick’s penchant for passionate filmmaking with his own vision eventually drove Mr. Clarke from the set, much the same as Stephen King stormed-off during the filming of “The Shining.” Afterwards, Mr. Clark’s book of the same name was released and people that took the time to read it finally did understand what this incredibly cinemagraphic tale was all about. Arthur C. Clarke was far ahead of his time. His theories of geosynchronous orbits for satellites became a reality 25 years after he predicted such. He is the author of over a thousand short stories and over 100 books. A character in the late Carl Sagan’s movie “Contact” is loosely based on his character paying homage to him. A resident of Sri Lanka, he kept in touch with the world via videoconferencing on computer and had many friends and fans that he kept in contact through e-mail.
To say I was somewhat influenced by this man would be putting it lightly. His image of the future foretold hope and promise for the human race. It sparked imagination that anything was possible and that the mysteries of life and of our origin could be surmised and possibly obtained some day, and that the question “why” might finally be answered. His writing is not complicated or hard to understand but his concepts went far beyond mere words printed on paper. He was a man of vision, a man of hope in this world of harsh realities in the day-to-day struggle of survival. He provided dreams-dreams of humans at their finest, and technology at its worst and vice versa. The ironic dichotomy of humans having come so far yet basic instincts of fear and greed, having being imprinted well within our DNA, helping to destroy those opportunities that have allowed our lives to be enriched by the advance of technology. One of the common themes I’ve discovered about my writing is this human versus environment versus technology predicament, and I find now I owe it all to this man who’s thought process influenced me at a very young age. I am greatly in his debt-the world is greatly in his debt. He may finally be able to answer HAL’s question-“will I dream?”