(from the Legacy of Korra: An Avatar in New Avalon discussion)
>The future is going to have stuff that we can't even imagine right
I have a book that came out in 2001, to mark the year of 2001: A Space Odyssey, called Hal's Legacy: 2001's Computer in Fiction and Reality (or words to that effect, I forget the precise subtitle). It's a collection of essays by various technologists about aspects of the HAL 9000 computer - speech recognition and synthesis, decision-making, and so on - and how close to achievable they were with the real computer science of the late 1990s.
It was entertaining reading at the time, if only because, well, the answer was generally "not very" - but I re-read it recently, and as a historical document it's even stranger, because it's a comparison of a past fictional future with a present day that is itself now 13 years in the past, and that's a whole lot of wacky temporality going on.
One of the most interesting (to me) aspects in which 2001 fails as futurism has nothing to do with the technology, but rather involves the product placement. Recall, for instance, that at the beginning of the film, Heywood Floyd is taking a Pan Am commercial flight to the Moon. Everyone focuses on the fact that there are still not commercial flights to the Moon in 2014 (and it's not looking particularly likely to happen ever), but beyond that, there'd been no such airline as Pan Am for 10 years by 2001.
Similarly, the IBM logo is prominently displayed in a lot of places over the course of the movie, and IBM certainly still exists as a company - but they changed their logo in 1969, the year after 2001 was released.
I feel I should clarify, in the interest of full disclosure, that I am... not a particular fan of the film, or of Kubrick's films generally, but I find it intensely interesting as a cultural artifact. That is to say, I'm not engaged by the story it's trying to tell (give me either version of 2010 any day), but I'm fascinated by the way the movie itself was made (similarly, I find Kubrick much more interesting as a technician than as a storyteller). Little things like the typography of the film, and how much attention he paid to it. But then I'm a font nerd anyway.
(For instance, the opening title of the film. If you look at it, it's in Futura Medium, a different weight of the same font NASA used on its official diagrams and documents in the '60s - but it doesn't say 2001, it says "2OO1", because in Futura that's more eyecatching. The capital O in Futura is a perfect circle - you can see that on the cover of Challenging the Cold Silence, which is in NASA's own Futura Heavy. Kubrick had his faults as a filmmaker, but one thing you can't say is that he let the little stuff slide. :)
Benjamin D. Hutchins, Co-Founder, Editor-in-Chief, & Forum Mod
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