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Monday, April 2, 2018

2001 A Space Odyssey - Fifty Years Ago

The movie 2001 premiered on this date in 1968, 50 years ago - in New York City. The script was developed in 1965 and the movie came several years later, and then the book was published a couple of months later in June 1968. Shown here are two photos from the famous movie - early man-apes staring at the monolith in Africa millions of years ago (above) and the astronauts (Gary Lockwood left and Keir Dullea right) on the resultant voyage (following discovery of a similar monolith near the permanent moon-base) to Jupiter. In the background is "Hal" with his single eye, watching over them. Of the three stars of the film, "Hal" was perhaps the most memorable.

This was one of those rare situations where a script and movie led to publication of a very collectible book - jacket of US first above and of UK first below. It is often said that the movie script had its beginnings in a short story - The Sentinel written by Clarke in 1948; however Clarke has stated:
"I am continually annoyed by careless references to "The Sentinel" as "the story on which 2001 is based"; it bears about as much relation to the movie as an acorn to the resultant full-grown oak. (Considerably less, in fact, because ideas from several other stories were also incorporated.) Even the elements that Stanley Kubrick and I did actually use were considerably modified. Thus the 'glittering, roughly pyramidal structure… set in the rock like a gigantic, many-faceted jewel' became—after several modifications—the famous black monolith. And the locale was moved from the Mare Crisium to the most spectacular of all lunar craters, Tycho—easily visible to the naked eye from Earth at Full Moon."
Although the space program was well underway, the first landing on the moon would not take place until July 20 1969, a bit more than a year after the movie premiered. The predictions of the film would prove to be wildly optimistic - except perhaps with regard to "Hal" and the subsequent explosions in computing systems. The early science fiction writers (during the late 40s into the early 60s) consistently under-forecast the extreme developments in computing power and technology that were to come.

First editions in collectible condition range in price from around $300 to thousands of dollars for special or unusual signed copies.

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