Visiting Middle-earth

Robin Reid at the Bodleian

By Robin Anne Reid:

Tolkien: Maker of Middle-Earth

This exhibition will run from June 1-October 28, 2018. The tickets are free although booking ahead is probably a good idea! If possible, I’d encourage booking two times because I wish we had so that I could have visited it once, then gone back to a second more leisurely viewing!

The exhibition will be moved to the Morgan Library, New York, from January 25-May 12, 2019. This exhibition will not be free, and will probably be a smaller version of the Bodleian one. Then in late 2019 (specific dates not yet announced), the Bodleian Libraries and the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BNF), Paris will collaborate on the “largest Tolkien exhibition ever to be held in France. The linked article has a good description of the exhibition and the highlights of the 200 plus items featured—half of which have never been on public display before—and other information.

A significant percentage of the items are on loan from the J. R. R. Tolkien Collection at the Raynor Memorial Libraries, Marquette University, Tolkien Archive at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where they have an excellent secondary collection of works relating to Tolkien (including fanzines).

When I saw this exhibition first announced a year ago, I was flabbergasted. To say that the Bodleian and Oxford University had never been particularly prone to acknowledge Tolkien the Phenomenally Popular novelist (as opposed to Particularly Prominent Anglo-Saxons!) is an understatement. The PR materials say it is a once in a lifetime exhibit, and, well, yeah, I never thought I’d see it in my lifetime. So we knew we had to go.

Since Dr. Dimitra Fimi has been organizing a track of Tolkien programming at Leeds for some years, we planned to attend the exhibition then go on to Leeds. Our proposals were accepted, and we started planning (including hiring out wonderful cat sitter to come in to take care of the feline Credentials and scheduling the canine Credentials at a lovely boarding place).

Reader, it was incredible!

What follows is a cleaned-up version of notes I scribbled as I went through the exhibit. I spent about two hours there though it felt like no time at all (elven time)! No photography is allowed inside of course, but note-taking was allowed though I think I left nose prints on just about every pane of glass in the exhibit! I was not the only one…

After turning our tickets in, we went into an entrance hall. The lights were low, soft music played in the background (credited to an original composer, David Harper (not quite sure of that last letter because my handwriting got increasingly cramped over time), and images were projected on the walls and floor: a map of Middle-earth on the floor, some of the images that were licensed to be used in this exhibition (on prints, mugs, etc.): Smaug and Bilbo in the mountain, Bilbo on the barrel, the Hobbit book cover map. On the wall at the end of the entrance areas was an image of the Doors of Durin from the walls of Moria.

The exhibit is in one large room with a number of free-standing cases arranged throughout to give the impression of a sort of labrynth (especially given the fairly low light in the room—the lights in free-standing cases and the cases along the walls are quite good). Images were projected on the wall above the cases along the walls.

I did not have the sense of a clearly marked path that one had to follow though I may have missed more subtle cues. I’ve been in some exhibitions where they had a roped off path throughout which was lacking here: that was good in that one could wander but it also meant that there was a lot of eddying around in the room. The exhibit has been up for over a month, but we were there on a Saturday and it was pretty solidly crowded, crowded enough that my housemate lost track of me and could not find me inside and left thinking I was outside.

The information cards on each case/grouping was good, including both background information on the items in the group and bibliographic credit when items were from another collection (like Marquette). The cards included appropriate Tolkien quotes for each topic and, especially in the case of the paintings and drawings, some evaluative commentary. I didn’t see any indication that there was an audio tour available.

I’ve arranged the sections below not in the way I wandered through the exhibit but from a basic chronological sense though given Tolkien’s recursive approach to writing there is no linear chronology of his process, i.e. he began working on the languages before/during World War I (see John Garth’s Tolkien and the Great War and was working on and off on his Silmarillion (the huge body of work that came to include The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and from which Christopher ‘edited’ the 1977 Silmarillion) throughout his life, with the earlier material in what look like school notebooks.

The first thing inside the door is a large framed version of Pauline Baynes’ poster map of Bilbo’s journey which includes inset images: I’m glad they included Baynes’ work since her art was on the earliest editions of Tolkien’s work.

The notes follow the jump.

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Pasadena’s Science Fictional Birthday Party

The Pasadena Museum of History celebrated the city’s 132nd birthday on June 3 with an event drawing its theme from the Museum’s popular exhibition, “Dreaming the Universe: The Intersection of Science, Fiction, & Pasadena”. John King Tarpinian was on hand to snap some pictures.

It included an official cake cutting ceremony with Mayor Terry Tornek, City Council members, and other VIPs.

The birthday cake.

The exhibition, which continues through September 2, is filled with interesting relics, documents, art, and costumes.

Curator Nick Smith told the Pasadena Weekly

“The biggest thrill for me in the exhibit was getting pieces of art, including a painting Wendy Fletcher did for the cover of the program book for the World Science Fiction Convention in the early 1970s that she didn’t even know still existed,” explains Smith. “The other one that had special meaning for me was a piece by artist Hannes Bok, which was not his real name but he had become estranged from his family and did all his artwork under that pseudonym. He died in the 1960s, and we got two color pieces of his including one from the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

“It was an illustration for a story by Robert Zelazny and it was the first magazine I bought new at a news stand because of that cover,” adds Smith. “He hung out at Clifton’s [Cafeteria] with Bradbury and other writers and was talked into going to the East Coast and becoming a professional artist for 50 years as a result.”

The museum’s website says:

Southern California ushered in the Rocket Age in 1936 with the first rocket tests in Pasadena’s Arroyo Seco. The growth of the aeronautics industry in the area was closely paralleled by the growth of the creative science fiction community. Dreaming the Universe will examine visionary creators – Ray Bradbury, Octavia Butler, Frank Kelly Freas, Syd Mead, Emil Petaja, and Edgar Rice Burroughs – and the books, fanzines, art, and media they created. Attention will also be given to the fans of science fiction, individuals such as Forrest Ackerman, as well as fan organizations.

Private collections and institutions from near and far have generously loaned material for the exhibition. For the first time ever, a group of paintings from the Korshak Collection, an East Coast-based private collection of American and European illustrations of imaginative literature, have traveled to California. This loan features the work of legendary illustrators with ties to Southern California: Hannes Bok, Kelly Freas, and Edward Emshwiller. Neighboring institutions JPL, Carnegie Observatories, and Caltech have opened up their archives to PMH, with loans including pages from Dr. Charles Richter’s Star Trek fan book. Southern California’s rich television and motion picture history is represented by loans from Syd Mead, NBCUniversal, and Western Costume Company. These loans include costumes, props, and art from iconic productions such as Battlestar Galactica (1978/9), Planet of the Apes (1968), 2010 (1984), and a costume of “a strange visitor from another planet who came to earth with power and abilities far beyond those of mortal men.” Rare and unusual material from other collections and organizations make this exhibition a treat for all audiences.

Shall the Twain Meet? or, Before Bowers and Gillespie

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1297) Waiting in the Maguire Garden at the west of the public library down town while a fire alarm was cleared, I saw above the library door in alto-relievo two horsemen passing a torch, under the motto Et quasi cursores vitai lampada tradunt (Latin, “And like runners they hand on the lamp of life”; Lucretius, On the Nature of Things 2:79, 50 b.c.e.).

On the left, over a figure of Phosphor (personification of the Morning Star), was “Wisdom of the East / Moses / Zoroaster / Buddha / Confucius / Mohammed / Lao Tse / Hillel / Avicenna / Al Gazali / Badarayana”.

On the right, over a figure of Hesper (the Evening Star), was “Wisdom of the West / Herodotus / Socrates / Aristotle / Vergil / Augustine / Aquinas / Petrarch / Bacon / Descartes / Kant”.

The architect of the building was Bertram Goodhue 1869-1924 (it was finished 1926); the sculptor, Lee Lawrie 1877-1963; the iconographer, Hartley Alexander 1873-1939 chair of the Univ. Nebraska philosophy department.

They made a conversation piece.  The work of each person named is worth discussing; the inclusion of that person, the omission of others; placement under East or West; each set’s numbering ten; and, as the saying goes, much much more.

                                            

Bill Bowers of e.g. Outworlds was, and Bruce Gillespie of e.g. SF Commentary is, famous for lists.

ComicMix Whittles Away Another Leg of Star Trek/Seuss Mashup Lawsuit


Could the day be coming when Dr. Seuss Enterprises doesn’t have a leg left to stand on? In November 2016, during a Kickstarter campaign to fund Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go!, featuring the writing of David Gerrold, the art of Ty Templeton, and the editorial skills of ComicMix’s Glenn Hauman, Dr. Seuss Enterprises (DSE) filed suit for damages claiming the project infringed their copyright and trademark on Dr. Seuss’ Oh the Places You’ll Go! A new ruling has disposed of the trademark claims.

Although ComicMix suffered a setback in December 2017 when the federal Judge Janis L. Sammartino allowed both the copyright and trademark claims to go forward, on May 21, she applied a recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals precedent and granted ComicMix’s motion for judgment on the trademark issues. Only the copyright claims remain to be litigated.

The Hollywood Reporter article “‘Star Trek’/Dr. Seuss Mashup Creator Beats Trademark Claims” briefed the reasons for ComicMix’s latest victory.

At the time, ComicMix also argued that its work merited First Amendment protection under a test established in Rogers v Grimaldi, a 1989 decision that resulted from a lawsuit brought by the actress Ginger Rogers over the Fellini film Ginger and Fred. The test directs judges to examine whether use of a mark has artistic relevance, and if so, whether the work is explicitly misleading. Although ComicMix’s Boldly appeared to Sammartino to meet the criteria for protection, the judge highlighted a footnote in the Rogers decision that provided an exception for “misleading titles that are confusingly similar to other titles.”

…And but, something happened while all this was going down.

Fox Television was caught up in a fight over the title of Empire, its hit show about a feuding music-industry family.  Empire Distribution — a record label and publishing company that has worked with such hip-hop artists as T.I., Snoop Dogg and Kendrick Lamar — had brought its own trademark claims, but Fox prevailed, thanks to the Rogers test. This case went all the way up to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed Fox’s win.

Soon after Dr. Seuss Enterprises scored its victory in December, ComicMix pointed to the Empire case as having disavowed the Rogers footnote that had created an opening for trademark claims over titles.

Sammartino agrees, writing that the 9th Circuit “applies the Rogers test rather than the likelihood-of-confusion test” and that the 9th Circuit states “that the [Rogers] footnote had only ever been cited once by an appellate court, and even then the Second Circuit had rejected its applicability.”

The parties are now scheduling witness depositions and preparing for the next round of litigation.

Benevolent Airships

The discussion continues here….

By Meredith: During the recent Origins discussion, Meredith made a joke about:

Note how none of us started a Benevolent Airships campaign despite the direst provocation of Hugo Voters failing to choose Goblin Emperor.

At which point Kurt Busiek said:

I kinda like the idea of a Benevolent Airships campaign.

Provided it did something, you know, benevolent, as opposed to overly entitled, whiny and destructive.
Like, I dunno, buying Hugo-nominated books and donating them to school libraries, or something.

… At which point we all got carried away. This is the dedicated discussion post for sorting out whether and exactly how we’re going to do this thing. Elisa is currently the lead USA Dirigible, and Meredith is exploring the UK possibilities.

So far, “market research” has been done (the school librarians are enthusiastic) and we’re looking into whether existing book donation charities are willing to partner with us. The previous discussion can be found here and here.

Connor Cochran Bankruptcy Update

U.S. Bankruptcy Court has granted the trustee’s motion to convert the Avicenna and Conlan Press bankruptcies from Chapter 11 to Chapter 7, a liquidating bankruptcy. The orders were entered April 30.

Peter S. Beagle sued his former manager Connor Cochran in 2015 for $52 million in damages, disgorgement of illegal gains and restitution, and dissolution of two corporations he co-owns with Cochran, Avicenna Development Corporation, and Conlan Press, Inc. Cochran and his companies filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on January 4, one day before trial was scheduled to begin in Beagle’s lawsuit against them.

Whether liquidating the corporations’ assets will financially benefit anyone is a question. Several of Cochran’s creditors allege he has converted their assets to his personal use.

However, as reported here in March, the court lifted the automatic stay that took effect when Cochran filed bankruptcy, and allowing Beagle to proceed in California state court against Cochran, Avicenna Development Corporation, and Conlan Press, Inc. and obtain a final judgment.

Then, in April, the court also lifted the stay for Sandbox LLC and Justin Bunnell, investors in The Last Unicorn Tour, allowing them to proceed with state litigation against Avicenna Corporation.

And last month Patrick Lake filed with U.S. Bankruptcy court a “Complaint To Determine Dischargeability of Debt and Related Declaratory Relief” which allowed him to publicly rehearse the grounds for his defamation suit against Cochran. Over the course of several years, Cochran issued updates about his efforts to identify the anonymous source of some allegedly libelous blog posts and tweets, a person he ultimately claimed was Bay Area resident Patrick Lake.

Lake’s statement to the court (see the link below) argues:

…The true facts were that Plaintiff had not forged a contract with Plaintiff; that he does not engage in an “ongoing pattern of deception” in his attorney-client relationships or in his other business relationships; he is not a “stalker” nor “crazed” i.e., mentally unstable, mentally incompetent, or insane; and he was not fired from his employment as an art instructor when he left that employment over five years ago.

…As a proximate result of the defamatory statements of Defendant, Plaintiff has been harmed in that he has suffered past and future loss of income, as well as shame, mortification, emotional distress, public opprobrium, and humiliation, as well as attorneys’ fees incurred to attempt to correct the misleading and false statements of Defendant that have been repeated by others relying on Defendant’s widely published false and defamatory statements. Said damages are in an amount subject to proof at trial.

Lake’s attorney seeks a court ruling that Cochran’s debts to his client are nondischargeable in Cochran’s Chapter 11 proceeding.

Ed Kramer Fights “Sexually Dangerous Predator” Label

Last December the state of Georgia’s Sexual Offender Registration Review Board (SORRB) designated Dragon Con co-founder Ed Kramer a “sexually dangerous predator,” the ranking with the highest perceived risk for recidivism. Georgia law requires “SDPs” to be monitored by GPS for the rest of their lives. Kramer’s attorney has filed a motion contesting the decision.

Kramer pleaded to three counts of child molestation in 2013 as trial was set to begin in Gwinnett County, entering an Alford-type plea as provided under Georgia case law in which he agreed to the conviction even though he still claimed innocence. Kramer agreed to pay damages to the victims and was sentenced to serve a term of confinement at home.

Kramer’s term of house arrest ended within the last year and the ankle monitor he was ordered to wear was removed. However, with the SDP designation, he will have to resume wearing an electronic monitoring system for the rest of his life.

Georgia’s SORRB is required by state law to determine the risk level of sex offenders convicted in the state and places them into one of three categories: Level 1, which indicates a low risk for recidivism; Level 2, which indicates an intermediate risk of recidivism; or Level 3, sexually dangerous predator, which indicates a person’s high probability of reoffending.

Kramer’s lawyer Stephen Reba, in the petition filed January 16, said state law and due process were violated by the SORRB due to the failure of a Gwinnett prosecutor who sits on the Sexual Offender Review Board to recuse himself, because his office was disqualified from Kramer’s pending habeas action.

In 2014, months after entering his Alford plea, Kramer filed a habeas action  arguing that Gwinnett District Attorney Danny Porter improperly influenced the trial judge. Since that made Porter and his office witnesses, the petition said his office was disqualified from involvement in the habeas case, and the office of the state attorney general entered as counsel for the respondent.

The Daily Report Online quoted Kramer’s attorney:

Reba said it appeared clear that having Vandever sit on the panel deciding Kramer’s risk assessment is a constitutional violation.

“Whether it violates [the law’s] statutory authority—we’ll see, but I think the due process violations would be the relevant controlling law,” said Reba. “We have a case where a member of this board is making this decision when they’ve been disqualified from the underlying case.”

(Incidentally, all the Gwinnett County judges recused themselves from the habeas action, which is now assigned to Piedmont Circuit Senior Superior Court Judge Robert Adams and remains pending.)

Kramer’s status as a Sexually Dangerous Predator remains unchanged at this time. In fact, the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office added Kramer’s photo to its Facebook album “Sexually Dangerous Predators in Gwinnett” on May 7.

Kramer hasn’t been affiliated with Dragon Con since his partners bought him out in 2013.

FenCon’s Statement on Ringo’s 2013 Appearance

Jim Hague’s April 27 comment about John Ringo on this blog, now removed, was responded to by the author yesterday in a Facebook post, “On the Subject of Slander”.

The comment’s allegations about the author’s conduct at FenCon 2013 were also  contradicted by the FenCon committee in a statement today signed by Julie Barrett, Chair of Dallas Future Society (DBA FenCon) and the board of directors.

We have been made aware of allegations regarding John Ringo’s behavior at FenCon X in 2013. The con committee agrees that no such incidents took place. As Mr. Ringo mentioned on his Facebook post, we were aware of his family obligations and respectfully gave him free time to attend to those. To that end, we were protective of his privacy and tried to keep him and his family free from interruptions.

No incidents of any kind were reported over the weekend. We received no complaints about any of our guests, Mr. Ringo included.

Our Guests of Honor do not participate in judging the FenCon Short Story Contest.

All our parties take place in a controlled area of the hotel, and no party matching that description was held. We’re a small convention, and rumors travel fast. We very likely would have heard about it.

As far as we are aware, Mr. Ringo did not have a security detail present. At the very least, a detail such as the one described would certainly have caught our attention.

Mr. Ringo and all our guests of honor and program participants did a fantastic job and appeared to greatly enjoy themselves.

FenCon is committed to providing a safe and congenial environment for all its members and maintains a strict conduct policy. We encourage people attending the convention to report incidents as soon as possible so that we may investigate and respond in appropriate manner.

Hague’s comment is quoted at the beginning of Ringo’s post.

Kickstarter Tags Amazing Stories Campaign as “A Project We Love”

With just 19 hours remaining in the “Return of Amazing Stories as a Print Magazine” campaign, Kickstarter has selected it as a “Project We Love,” a notable project to be promoted to Kickstarter Followers.

It’s a welcome, last-minute push because at this writing Steve Davison’s appeal has raised only $18,492 of its $30,000 goal.

Visit the Amazing Stories campaign here to find out why it was selected, and help Amazing Stories reach its goals.

Below is Kickstarter’s message:

Congratulations!

We’re huge fans of your project and it’s now being featured as a Project We Love on Kickstarter. Don’t worry about creating any badges or banners (seriously), we’ve added a neat little one right on your project image and project page.

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions — #28

Martin Luther King and 2001: A Space Odyssey, Plus 50

By Chris M. Barkley:

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1967

If anyone understands it on the first viewing, we’ve failed in our intention.
Director Stanley Kubrick on 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968.

Fifty years ago today, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, while attempting to support the city’s sanitation workers’ strike for better wages and working conditions.

Two days earlier, the world premiere of Stanley Kubrick’s visionary science fiction film, 2001: A Space Odyssey was held at the Uptown Theatre in Washington, D.C.

One event nearly shattered the United States and the other marked a seismic occurrence in film history. Both still continue to resonate and shape our lives to this day.

April 4, 1968 was a Thursday. I was in the sixth grade, attending a Catholic parochial school, St. Francis de Sales. I don’t remember seeing any ads about 2001 during that period of time. The main news of that day, that week, as a matter of fact, was the assassination of Dr. King. President Lyndon Johnson urged the populace remain calm.

That Saturday, the Cincinnati Reds announced that the Opening Day parade and game were postponed. The mayor declared a sunset to sunup curfew for all citizens. Rioting erupted in urban areas all over the country, including Cincinnati. In Avondale, a neighborhood a few miles away from our home, the entire shopping district was destroyed. Two were killed. Ironically, the only thing left standing was a bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln nearby.

In the meantime, 2001 opened across the country a few weeks later to mixed reviews. Variety’s Robert B. Frederik proclaimed that it was not a cinematic landmark, claiming, “2001 lacks dramatic appeal to a large degree and only conveys suspense after the halfway mark. Despite the enormous technical staff involved in making the film, it is almost entirely one man’s conception and Kubrick must receive all the praise – and take all the blame.”

Pauline Kael, one of the premiere film critics of the mid-20th century, said, “It has the dreamy somewhere-over-the-rainbow appeal of a new vision of heaven. 2001 is a celebration of cop-out. It says man is just a tiny nothing on the stairway to paradise, something better is coming, and it’s all out of your hands anyway. There’s an intelligence out there in space controlling your destiny from ape to angel, so just follow the slab. Drop up.”

Roger Ebert, an up and coming film reviewer at the Chicago Sun-Times (and ardent, die-hard sf fan as it turned out), was tad more perceptive when he stated, in a five-star review, “The fascinating thing about this film is that it fails on the human level but succeeds magnificently on a cosmic scale. Kubrick’s universe, and the space ships he constructed to explore it, are simply out of scale with human concerns. The ships are perfect, impersonal machines which venture from one planet to another, and if men are tucked away somewhere inside them, then they get there too.”

In the spring of 1968, I was mostly oblivious to 2001. I was mainly more concerned with surviving the seventh-grade landscape, in which dodging bullies, doing homework, baseball, meeting my parent’s expectations reading and watching as many movies and consume as much television as possible.. I was also being outfitted with a series of glasses as my myopia decreased the acuity of my eyesight.

Doctor King’s message of non-violence was a sound theory to me at the time. The problem was that the other children I went to school with or were living in my neighborhood were more interested in acting like typical adolescent kids than pondering the philosophical mysteries of being a better person.

Eventually, film was a welcome diversion. Although I missed 2001 on its first theatrical release, I was more than ready in 1974, when it came back to theaters for a limited run in its original 70MM form.

Nothing prepared me for the totally immersive experience of the widescreen presentation. I count seeing 2001 for the first time one of the most influential and best film experiences of my life. From the stunning beauty and grand vistas of the African veldt to the eerily accurate rendering of the lunar surface (15 months before the real deal) to beyond the stargate, I was completely captivated.

What is also remarkable is that all of the makeup, ship models, stunts and special effects were all physical or manmade and not computer generated.

Beyond feeling that I had experienced something transcendental (without the aid of any recreational drugs, mind you), I did not know what to make of my first viewing of 2001. To me, it is completely open to a number of interpretations which is its greatest strength and exactly what Stanley Kubrick in mind.

Kubrick, in an interview with Playboy magazine said, “You’re free to speculate as you wish about the philosophical and allegorical meaning of the film—and such speculation is one indication that it has succeeded in gripping the audience at a deep level—but I don’t want to spell out a verbal road map for 2001 that every viewer will feel obligated to pursue or else fear he’s missed the point.”

When quizzed on the subject, Arthur C. Clarke gleefully recommended people read his novelization (which is still in print, BTW) of the film, which in turn contained substantial changes from the film narrative and further clouded the issue of whose version of the story is more “true”.

Yesterday, I took time out to watch a 2007 dvd reissue of 2001 in a way that I have never attempted before with any other movie I own; with the audio commentary on. The lead actors of the film, Keir Dullea (David Bowman) and Gary Lockwood (Frank Poole) provided a fascinating play-by-play of their involvement with their part in the film and other peripheral views they witnessed firsthand. Since I have seen the movie eight or nine times, I could readily follow the action as they talked. Of particular interest are their descriptions of various scenes such as Lockwood’s jog around the centrifuge of Discovery’s spaceship cabin and Dullea’s rather perilous reentry into the ship after being locked out by HAL.

Another note; Stanley Kubrick showed his true genius in the casting Lockwood and Dullea; the former was a California born athlete and television supporting actor and the latter a film veteran with the attitude of a New York stage actor. Both are approximately the same age (81 as of this column) and remain friends to this day. Although they come from completely different backgrounds and acting styles, they found that each complemented the other perfectly in their roles of astronauts.

Martin Luther King Jr. never had the opportunity to see 2001: A Space Odyssey. Frankly, I can’t see it as being the kind of film he would be interested in seeing. But, if he had done so, I think he would have focused in on one of the most famous moments in the film, the ‘match cut’ as main ape character, Moon-Watcher, learns to wield an animal bone as a weapon and subsequently throws it up in the air, only to come down through the frame and transition four million years later as a nuclear armed satellite orbiting the earth.

Most film critics over the decades have seen interpreted particular moment as the advancement of the human species from its primitive roots to a technological extreme.

Canadian sf novelist Robert J. Sawyer had a different view. Speaking in the Canadian documentary 2001 and Beyond, he saw the film cut from a bone to a nuclear weapons platform as,  “…what we see is not how far we’ve leaped ahead, what we see is that today, ‘2001’, and four million years ago on the African veldt, it’s exactly the same—the power of mankind is the power of its weapons. It’s a continuation, not a discontinuity in that jump.”

I am quite sure that if Doctor King had seen 2001, he would have seen that connection, that our violent past and present might be transcended some day. He might have not agreed with the method, especially if it was implied that it would happen at the hands (or appendages) of extraterrestrial life. He would have preferred that mankind was more than willing and capable of achieving that on our own.

Today, as I reflect back on the past fifty years, I note that people still suffer from classism, voter suppression and widespread profiling and physical violence from the police. That at this point in time, our political system seems to be in total disarray. And that the city of Memphis, the very city Doctor King was in when he was brutally cut down, is still rated by the US Census Bureau as one of the highest rates of poverty in the country.

I prefer to believe the world of 2001, as depicted in the film, is a better place than ours. That, in spite of the apparent tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union, we cooperate to the extent that both parties (and more) can operate in space and the moon in relative harmony. And by extension, we may have solved our energy and climate concerns.

Despite everything that has happened since their deaths, the works and words of Doctor Martin Luther King, Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke continue to inspire us to do our best for humanity. And hopefully, they will for quite a while.