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Date: Fri, 08 Aug 1997 02:08:33 -0700 From: Bill Wheaton [email@example.com] Friend, I enjoyed your page, and your essay. I have not yet read everything here, but I do think some mention of Clarke's earlier novel "Childhood's End" is important. It is, to my mind, the greatest science fiction novel ever written, or at least the greatest one I've ever encountered or heard of, and key to most of the ideas in "2001". In it, the best writer of "hard" (ie, technically accurate) science fiction, develops the idea of The Overmind, an alien consiousness so vast it is, on a human scale, essentially indistinguishable from God. And he does it in a way that is extremely plausible, given the tremendous limitations of our knowledge and experience. If there is an older intelligence out there, the Overmind is the best guess going as to what it will seem like to us, given our inevitable perspective, of (slightly) intelligent ants. If there is no Overmind, and we are the first, then there _will_ be one in a billion years -- for that is the direction we are going. Either way, we are the Children of God. (If we survive, one must add, but it does not change the truth of our significance. Some children do not survive, of course we know, numbingly tragic as it is.) The novel version of "2001" is very very good, and essential to interpretation of the movie. Taken as a unified work, I think the combination of movie and book are on a par with "Childhood's End". In my opinion, CE beats the novel 2001 by a large margin for the power of its imagry; but the movie 2001 evens the score. And that is Kubrick's enormous contribution. In the movie, the husk of David Bowman reaches out to the stone: now for the last time, finally as one who knows something of That Thing for which he reaches. I cannot say there is anything in CE _more_ powerful than that moment, yet neither can I say that CE is the loser. Read it, and decide for yourself. If your heart was moved by one, you need to experience the other. And the power of both is greatly increased by Clarke's deep knowledge and insight into science and technology, for both are as true as a pure product of the human imagination can be. There is one essentially new idea in 2001 that is not in Childhood's End, and that is Hal. Confused, brilliant, scary yet childlike, Hal is a bridge towards minds greater than our own. For millions of years, mind has developed by blind trial and error. Now, as we design with both silicon and DNA, we may still expect to have both awful mistakes and happy accidents, but the pace is likely to increase a thousandfold, and the end is truly beyond our imagining. And if the journey seems terrifying, may we remember that it has always been so, from the first blind gropings of molecules, when Earth and Sun were young. I hope we will guide it as well as our small wisdom allows, and take heart perhaps from the fact that it has flourished thus far with the benefit of no wisdom but God's. Nor do I see much reason to fear that He will suddenly take away His hand, if He has guided us this far. Tolkien, a writer Clarke is said to admire, grieves that "many fair things shall pass away, and be seen no more under the sky". Trilobites and dinosaurs, gone forever; except as we may honor them, based on petrified bones, clothed again by our imaginings. It seems, after all, the least we can do; and hope that we in turn are remembered with some affection by those to follow. From: "Aaron & Potosi" [Aaron@accessnet.es] Date: Sun, 10 Aug 1997 18:27:58 +0200 I have just read your essay. It's damn good. But I think I have some things to say. 1. Stanley manages very well to give us the feeling that Aliens are here, but remain invisible because they don't need a physical appearance. So, why does Dave adopt a physical form when he becomes the Star Child ? 2. If the Aliens are so powerful, why do they make their world a bit familiar to Dave? Aren't they able to make the unknown known for Dave without transforming the physical reality? From: SHL@webtv.net (SHELDON STEIN) Date: Mon, 11 Aug 1997 08:15:40 -0700 2001 is the best film ever made. When I was 15 years old in 1983, i've seen this movie several times and I thought the future was really bright. All this space exploration, hi-tech computers, new discoverys to benefit mankind, etc, (I think it was the Apollo 11 moon landing that inspired this film) anyway I'm 29 years old now and it is AUG 1997 and there is no future and nothing is happening. The only thing happening is rent, child support, welfare, 25,000 autos with air bags, I am fucking dissapointed with it all and have gave up. I see myself as Dave Boweman on Discovery. Date: Sat, 27 Sep 1997 07:11:51 -0400 From: Stephen Johnson [StephenJohnson1@compuserve.com] I first saw 2001 in 1968 when I was 14 years old. I t left an impession on me that has been with me ever since.These comments may be of interest to your readers. THE MONOLITH: To me it is simply an enabler. The vexed topic of rocket sounds in the vacuum of space as per 2010 when compared to the silrnce of 2001. 2010:ROCKET SOUNDS. Yes they are there, but if you look as you listen they are not all wrong. Most occur when an airlock is or just has opened....could the sounds not be carried by the rush outwards of air molecules as they rapidly expand in the vacuum of space.Makes sense to me. A lot of the other sounds of the Leonov in space I believe are low bass frequencies added as a meaningless blanket purely for effect....almost abstract musical, and are not meant to reproduce rocket sounds as such. When the Leonov aero-brakes around Jupiter we can hear the searing sounds in the external view as the balute heat shield-brake glows hot. This heating is caused by friction with the molecules of the Jovian atmosphere. Where there is atmosphere there is the medium to carry sounds, so it is correct that we should hear the sounds of the Leonov.When aero-braking is complete we hear the sounds of the jettisoning of the balute. I believe that to prevent the balute from freezing solid in space it would be packed in an inert gas controlled enviroment and the release of this gas is the medium which carries the sounds. Discovery is seen to be coated in a dust of "sulphur" in its orbit over Io. Could this dust and other emissions from Io degrade the vacuum locally and be a carrier for some sound frequencies? This does not explain all the rocket sounds but points the way. The hardest ones to explain are the static energy bursts from Europa caused by the Leonov`s probes close approach and the burst toward Earth (that is Bowmans spirit on his visit to his wife and mother)triggered by the pod piloted by Max .Perhaps this is not sound as such but perhaps radio waves which can certainly be heard in space, and we hear it as if we were a radio. Certainly the crew of the Leonov would hear it on there systems. Hope this provides food for thought for your readers and hope you can use this letter. Date: Sat, 27 Sep 1997 20:34:43 -0400 From: scturner [firstname.lastname@example.org] After reading parts of your essay, which was very good, I feel obliged to offer an interpetation of one of the film's less understood aspects, it's vagueness and apparent meaninglessness. This is one of the complaints most often voiced about the film: what does it mean, what is it trying to say. As far as I can see, it very intentionially says very little. It offers many suggestions and hints, but never actually comes out and makes a definate statement. However, from the hints that we are given, it is possible to get some kind of message out of the film, and I believe that it is this: We humans are powerless and in the ultimate scheme of things mean nothing in and of ourselves (ironically, I thind that Arthur C. Clarke would be horrified by this reading, he is a very humanistic) In the film, we only achieve what greatness that we have because of the alien intervention, and these very aliens have the power to destroy us at will. Furthermore, the film does not protray a truely transcendent human breakthough as you stated in your essay, it was the alien power that did all of the work, we could have never done it ourselves. An even more subtle hint is the fact which I stated earlier, that the film is vague and apparently meaningless. Is this not simply a parallel to the human condition, equally meaningless and vague. Think about it.