So long, Arthur C. and have a good journey
I’ve never been much of a sci-fi buff. I read a bit of the genre when I was in my teens and I have had a few favorite writers in the broader aspects of the field, including Clarke himself, Ray Bradbury (great storyteller and moralist), H.G. Wells, John Wyndham and some more no doubt, whose names have thoroughly slipped my mind.
I’ve seen a few of the movies, like Star Wars and a few of the Star Trek series of films and I must confess the effects and technologies were impressive, but it’s not a cinematic genre I hanker after. I did like Starman, but that was more due to the elements of humor rather than the kind of preposterous story. And, as an incurable romantic, I liked the love story contained therein.
Otherwise, I have no idea why science fiction never really captured my imagination fully, but that’s just the way I am. I like to think it’s because I have a very low geek factor in my makeup, but that’s sort of egocentric on my part.
My exception to me rule in this regard would be the spoofs of the genre. I loved the Hitchhiker’s Guide series, but then I worship at the grave of Douglas Adams. And, I found Red Dwarf to be hilarious. I even liked that film (the name of which escapes me) with Tim Allen and an especially bodacious Sigourney Weaver in which one of the aliens actually talked like the little Martian guy in the cartoons.
But, back to old Arthur C. I once tried to read 2001-A Space Odyssey and found it to be not riveting. The film, on the other hand, I think was a masterpiece. Pretentious and overblown as hell, and obsessed with its allegorical drive it might have been, I still found it to be up there in my list of great cinematic experiences.
Right from the monolith and the monkeys (and I will forgive it for rendering Also Sprach Zarathustra a TV commercial musical cliché) through the bizarre creatures at the space bar, to the disabling of HAL (“Don’t do that, Dave!”) and our hero’s birth and death and the whole damn thing weird metaphor at the end, I was enchanted. I really have no idea what it was all about, but anything that could render Kier Dullea a fascinating performer accomplished something of significant worth.
It was a long time ago that I initially saw it as a film, and the real 2001 was still a long way off in the future, so the title had relevance. I also saw it at a drive-in and a walk to the snack-bar meant picking up a contact high from the cannabis fumes in the car-park. “Oh, you should see it stoned, man. That’s the way yer supposed to see it, man.” Maybe so, but I found even straight it worked wonders on my psyche, and it still sticks in my brain as a film that absolutely took me out of my own mind and into the broader – and as yet unanswered – mysteries of the universe and our place within it.
So, here’s to you, Arthur C., and may your personal odyssey to your next realm be as enchanting as the one you created in the temporal realm.