Editorial January 2001 : Millennial Memories By Hilary Williamson
2001: A Space Odyssey Starring Keir Dullea Directed by Stanley Kubrick
We spent Millennial Eve 2000 listening to the Beatles, packing up a ten year time capsule with poems and Pokémon, and discussing the great men and women of the century. Though the true millennium eve this year seemed more of an afterthought, its activity was preordained - we watched 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Clarke's Childhood's End was a book that made a lasting impression on me and I remember awaiting the movie 2001 with great anticipation in 1968. It was the first serious science fiction to be released as a movie and the special effects were stunning ... I remember how far away the future that it portrayed seemed to us at the time.
Aside from the 60's hair-do's, the movie stands the test of time very well. Its special effects are still impressive, the scientific details are fascinating and Hal as charming and sinister as ever (if you want a reminder you can listen to Hal's conversations online). The teens in our group enjoyed 2001 as much for the first time as the adults did for the umpteenth. And after the movie, the fireworks and champagne seemed redundant in ushering in the New Year.
As a serendipitous aside, Sir Arthur C. Clarke also quoted the poet James Elroy Flecker (mentioned in the December BookLoons editorial) in an intriguing December 29th U.K. Guardian article The ascent of man in which he speculates about the future while mentioning the futility of attempting to predict 'a thousand years hence'.
Clarke suggests that the main business of the millennium will be exploration of the solar system and 'the modification of many planetary environments to make them suitable for human habitation'. He speculates about the spread of terrestrial conflict to space - 'we have too many eggs in one fragile basket, here on this small blue dot' - and about contact with distant civilisations so that 'we may be plugged into the galactic internet, downloading vast libraries from countless alien cultures'. Now that's a horrific notion for those of us already struggling with information overload and junk mail!
But seriously, if we are on the verge of space exploration, let us hope that Kipling's Great Game and our dated tribal conflicts do not move off the planet with us. As Clarke himself said 'There is a hopeful symbolism in the fact that flags will not wave in a vacuum'. And from my personal nomination for the greatest human being of the century, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi: 'An eye for an eye and the whole world is blind'. Let's hope we don't export that blindness off the planet.
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