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2001, A Space Odyssey

The future, if one is to judge it in the terms portrayed thirty years ago in the film "2001: A Space Odyssey," has been something of a bust. The film's creators, Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke evidently took it for granted that 2001, commercial airlines (in fact, the now-vanished Pan Am) would be offering regularly scheduled flights to orbit, where passengers would disembark into a space station complete with a hotel coffee shop. From the space station, connecting flights would be available to well-established moon bases, and preparations would be underway to send a manned spaceship (no women aboard!) to the moons of Jupiter. To viewer of the film in 1968, all of this surely seemed plausible, even likely.

The year 2001 is nearly at hand, but almost none of the film's advances has come to pass. The commercial shuttle in the film bears a marked resemblance in appearance to the Space Shuttle, but the real Shuttle takes no passenger reservations. If it did, the price of a round trip ticket would be on the order of $100 million. A space station of sorts may be in orbit by 2001, but it too will be a far cry from the one in the film. It certainly will not have a coffee shop. As for human visits to Jupiter, they seem further off now than they did in 1968.

Much the same can be said of most else that was once expected to characterize "the future." No fleets of supersonic airliners whisk us across the ocean in two hours. Save for a handful of aging Concordes, the world's jetliners today are much the same in appearance and performance as the 707 of the 1960s. Flight times are often actually longer, due to "stacking" of traffic around congested airports. No helicopters take us from downtown to the airport. A time traveller from 1968, in fact, would see very little unfamiliar in driving through a present-day American city, apart from purely stylistic design changes in clothing, cars, and the like. There are no monora...

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2001, A Space Odyssey. (1969, December 31). In LotsofEssays.com. Retrieved 10:13, November 29, 2021, from https://www.lotsofessays.com/viewpaper/1707875.html