2001: A Space Odyssey's "Monolith" was originally "The Cube"


The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum recently acquired a mass of personal archives that belonged to science fiction pioneer, futurist, and inventor Arthur C Clarke, co-writer of 2001: A Space Odyssey and creator of so much more. Bruce Sterling took a peek:


Among the new Smithsonian holdings are an early draft of the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey. The two of them, director (Stanley Kubrick) and novelist (Clarke), are conspiring to make what Kubrick describes in a letter to Clarke as a "really good science fiction movie," because they both know that there is no such thing—not yet.

As they worked together, conjuring up the novel and the film, correspondence reveals a preoccupation with "the Cube" (later transmuted into the Monolith). Responding to Clarke's suggestion in 1966 that the Cube communicate directly with the man-apes who would one day populate the film, Kubrick instead advocates an enigmatic presence: "We see only the hypnotic image appear and the spellbound faces of the man-apes."

"Personal Writings of Arthur C. Clarke Reveal the Evolution of '2001: A Space Odyssey'" (Smithsonian)