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Tour the typography of the future, starting with '2001: A Space Odyssey'

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2001 A Space Odyssey
2001 A Space Odyssey

Typography plays a significant role in science fiction on television and in movies: apart from gleaming lens flare and FTL drives, fonts are an easy indicator that the action is happening in the future. Typeset in the Future has dedicated itself to investigating every notable instance of typography in sci-fi. And it recently started with Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Typeset in the Future painstakingly analyzes the typefaces in all the notable scenes in 2001, even investigating the historicity of the corporate fonts used by the likes of IBM, Pan Am, and Howard Johnson's. Kubrick himself, according to the site's analysis, also used fonts to create mood and a sense of time. For instance, the "Dawn of Man" sequence uses the Albertus font, which looks appropriately ancient given the context.

Eurostile Bold Extended vs. Univers 67 Bold Condensed

What's really interesting is the tension Kubrick apparently creates with the font he uses when everything is fine and what he uses to connote things are going wrong. 2001 makes ample use of Eurostile Bold Extended, which would go on to gain considerable popularity in sci-fi. Later on, however, the fonts Futura and Univers show up more and more — on warning labels and life-sign terminals — to show things as they start going south. When people start dying, you can almost count on Univers 67 Bold Condensed to make an appearance. The site's take definitely shines a new light on the classic film.