2001: A Space Odyssey

OK, I’ll grant that maybe “Bowman” was deliberate. But just because one name was chosen for its symbolism doesn’t mean that they all were.

(and for the record, I don’t buy that the HAL-IBM thing was coincidence. I mean, it might have been, but I find it more plausible that Clarke said it wasn’t just to avoid legal trouble.)

You mean we shouldn’t make a big deal about the letters in HAL’s name being just one off from … ?

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I’ve always assumed that Clarke and Kubrick picked names that would sound as if they fit in with the Mercury Seven - Carpenter, Cooper, Glenn, Grissom, Schirra, Shepard, and Slayton. They needed something that sounded like a real astronaut’s name, and in the mid-1960s that meant an Anglo-Saxon name, probably with two syllables. Furthermore I suspect they both acknowledged that Arthur C Clarke was no good with natural-sounding names. There’s a fine art to creating natural-sounding names and Clarke wasn’t very good at it. Isaac Asimov had the same problem.

Bowman might have struck them as appropriate given the Biblical connotations of Carpenter and Shepard. It’s one of those old, named-after-an-ancient-profession Anglo-Saxon surnames, like Smith, Fletcher, or indeed Cooper. NASA was full of white Anglo-Saxons in the 1960s and 2001 is essentially a modernist white Anglo-Saxon dream of the future, made by people who believed on a subconscious level that modernism and Anglo-Saxon whiteness would dominate the world at least until the end of the century if not forever.

As for Kubrick’s photographic background, I have again always assumed that it did him well at first - his early films came in on time and on budget, and even when he was given much larger budgets for Spartacus and 2001 the end results had all the money up on the screen and made a profit. The problem is that over time the opportunity to hone things to perfection in the studio overwhelmed his better judgement, which is why his work rate slowed down and he ended up micro-managing his cast. By the end of his career he was imitating himself.

I doubt they could get into legal trouble. Since IBM was a participant (the computers on the spacecraft to the moon had IBM logos) they might not want to embarrass IBM. But Clarke continued to deny the deliberate connection long after there was any danger of getting into trouble. I go with Benson’s suggestion that it was a subconscious connection, not deliberate. Plus HAL was a name in keeping with the computer names popular at the time.

Striking, isn’t it, that today when we all depend on our computers we don’t name them. Assistants, but not hardware.

Speak for yourself-- All of my computers have had names.

Even the one in your microwave? :stuck_out_tongue:

It’s a great movie that moves at a glacial pace. It’s possible to be both. The French editor Marc Humboldt, rejecting the manuscript for Remembrance of Things Past, reportedly told Marcel Proust, “I can’t see why a chap should need thirty pages to describe how he turns over in bed before going to sleep.”

Now that I have defended Kubrik’s work, I will admit to fast-forwarding through the dawn of humanity.

All my computers have names. And I mean human names. All of a given type are given names from one group of names. Like family names or alphabetical like all my Raspberry Pi’s have names starting with “I”. So not a HAL among them.

Known others that did this. Resulting in “oops” moments: Jim’s Bobbie died today." “His son died???” “Um, sorry, his computer is named after his son.”

Even my phone has a name: “Abbie Something”. It’s a Frankenphone assembled from parts from various phones.

My computers have all been named after computers in science fiction. So when I started getting laptops, they got named after spaceship AIs. My current laptop is Tagioalisii, and the one before that was Dora. My phone is even smaller than a laptop, and even more portable, so it’s Gay Deceiver.

How retro.

In the good old days before domain addressing, mail servers got names which you actually used. There were boring ones like ihnp4 and decvax, but Bell Labs Whippany’s two mail servers were bonnie and clyde.

In Toy Story 4, now playing, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger suit has a new soundbite: “Open the pod bay doors.” Doesn’t say HAL, though.

Don’t remember seeing that, but the tablets on which Bowman and Pool watched the BBC while eating together, and the forearm control panels of their spacesuits, all had IBM logos.


Here are some cool T-shirts for any fan of the movie, Kubrick or USS Discovery: