Artifacts from the future

Dennis Gillman, a long-time 2001 collector, will be on hand for Cyberfest

By Miranda Blunt

      In 1970, a 14-year-old Dennis Gillman started looking for artifacts from his favorite movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey. It was 16 years later at an out-of-business Los Angeles museum that his search was finally rewarded.
      In 1986, Gillman bought a pair of space boots, a pair of flight overalls and the famous red helmet from the film. Gillman says the artifacts, which will appear at University of Illinois' Cyberfest, are worth more today than the undisclosed amount he paid for them.
      Gillman currently works at TRW Aerospace, and it was the scientific vision of the film that first interested him and led him to collect props from the film.
      "The world was an entirely different place," Gillman said. "We hadn't been to the moon yet, but 2001 showed what the future could be like. It was a real vision of the future, not just science fiction."
      While Gillman's collection usually sits in a display case at his California home, beginning in 1992, he started to travel with his memorabilia. The first place he took his collection was an English science fiction festival celebrating Arthur C. Clarke's birthday. It was here that Gillman got a chance to meet Clarke himself.
      When asked how he thinks Cyberfest will measure up with his other experiences traveling with his artifacts, Gillman seemed excited. "It will be interesting to see again some of the people associated with the movie that I've already met," Gillman said. "It will be like a little reunion for us."
      Gillman himself is very interested in all aspects of Cyberfest and is intrigued with the future of cyberspace. "The Internet has shrunk the world," he said. "In a moment's notice, you can communicate with people from all over the world."
      Gillman also has definite opinions about whether the pessimistic view of 2001: A Space Odyssey will materialize. He doesn't think society will ever come to a point where computers start controlling people instead of people controlling them.
      "Whether we ever even get to a point where we have a computer like HAL, I mean, who knows?" Gillman said. "I think we'll do a good job of controlling things. It's not computers who cause problems, just those who create them."

2001's red helmet. Please be careful not to sever the air hose.

A mannequin looking stylish in a spacesuit from 2001.