It took me a few days for the loss of Arthur C. Clarke to set in and then it took me renting the Stanley Kubrick film to realize the scope and depth it means to me personally.
Strangely enough, or not, Star Trek was not my first introduction to space. It was the ''space age'' itself -- the NASA missions and as far as ''entertainment'' it was 2001: A Space Odyssey. Even for a ''wide-eyed'' 6-year old boy who was privileged to be born in a time of such hope and such hopes dashed; in a time when we saw mankind's future in the moon shots and found new heroes in our intrepid astronauts, while at the same time our ''Earthbound'' heroes were being assassinated or murdered over the color of their skin or dying in a far off land in a war that shouldn't have happened. It could really be said that it was ''the best of times and the worst of times.''
I saw 2001 before I read it (it's a bit of heavy reading for a 6-year old). For a boy who often sat awake after he was supposed to be in bed, with a flashlight beam glaring off the glossy pages of National Geographic showing the crisp photos take by the Apollo astronauts on the Moon, I could look up out the window by my bed and see that same Moon gleaming brilliant blue-white beams through the window curtains onto my bedspread.
When I saw 2001, it felt like I was watching the same reality. Those images burned themselves into my young mind and are as fresh today as they were forty years ago.
The ''silent majesty'' and scope of Clarke's novel that Kubrick ''saw'' and brought to a cinematic interpretation holds up surprisingly well. It's almost like looking at an ''alternate timeline'' where humanity somehow strove and achieved to a much different and less tragic 2001.
Following perhaps the greatest segue in cinematic science fiction -- proto-humans learning to kill to space flight represented by the thrown bone turning into a communications satellite -- just looking -- no experiencing -- the ''opening waltz'' of Kubrick's cinematic interpretation of Clarke's vision -- as one who has waltzed in competition, the rapture of motion that sweeps over you while you ''fly'' across the dance floor with your partner is captured magnificently by quite possibly the most memorable moment in all of science fiction (sorry Star Wars fans). Everything is in motion. The ''wheel'' space station, the satellites, the PanAm space-plane, the Earth and the Moon and the shafts of light through the space-plane windows -- all dancing in infinite eternal harmony to the music of Strauss.
Even the screens in high-def format on the seat-backs in the PanAm passenger cabin find accurate parallels with today's technology and hold up surprisingly well.
Anyway, I wasn't ready for what happened to me as I watched this scene, but sure enough, it overwhelmed me and my eyes teared up.
It is truly the end of an era. We've lost now all of the ''big three'' visionaries that arguably defined the modern age of science fiction during mankind's first reach toward the stars. Roddenberry, Kubrick and now Clarke.