Space Odyssey

Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece

Space Odyssey

Celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the film’s release, this is the definitive story of the making of 2001: A Space Odyssey, acclaimed today as one of the greatest films ever made, including the inside account of how director Stanley Kubrick and writer Arthur C. Clarke created this cinematic masterpiece.

Regarded as a masterpiece today, 2001: A Space Odyssey received mixed reviews on its 1968 release. Despite the success of Dr. Strangelove, director Stanley Kubrick wasn’t yet recognized as a great filmmaker, and 2001 was radically innovative, with little dialogue and no strong central character. Although some leading critics slammed the film as incomprehensible and self-indulgent, the public lined up to see it. 2001’s resounding commercial success launched the genre of big-budget science fiction spectaculars. Such directors as George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, and James Cameron have acknowledged its profound influence.

Author Michael Benson explains how 2001 was made, telling the story primarily through the two people most responsible for the film, Kubrick and science fiction legend Arthur C. Clarke. Benson interviewed Clarke many times, and has also spoken at length with Kubrick’s widow, Christiane; with visual effects supervisor Doug Trumbull; with Dan Richter, who played 2001’s leading man-ape; and many others.

A colorful nonfiction narrative packed with memorable characters and remarkable incidents, Space Odyssey provides a 360-degree view of this extraordinary work, tracking the film from Kubrick and Clarke’s first meeting in New York in 1964 through its UK production from 1965-1968, during which some of the most complex sets ever made were merged with visual effects so innovative that they scarcely seem dated today. A concluding chapter examines the film’s legacy as it grew into it current justifiably exalted status.
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 512 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781501163937 | 
  • April 2018
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About the Author

Michael Benson
Photograph by Lucie Goodayle, NHM Images

Michael Benson

Michael Benson works at the intersection of art and science. An artist, writer, and filmmaker, he’s a Fellow of the NY Institute of the Humanities and a past Visiting Scholar at the MIT Media Lab’s Center for Bits and Atoms. In addition to Space Odyssey he has written such books as Cosmigraphics: Picturing Space Through Time, a finalist for the Science and Technology award at the 2015 Los Angeles Times “Festival of Books.” Benson’s planetary landscape photography exhibitions have been shown internationally. He has contributed to many publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Smithsonian, and Rolling Stone. Visit