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A Typographic Odyssey
February 2, 2014 8:01 AM   Subscribe

2001: A Space Odyssey – Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 sci-fi masterpiece – seems an appropriate place to start a blog about typography in sci-fi. Amongst other delights, it offers a zero-gravity toilet, emergency resuscitations, exploding bolts, and product placement aplenty. It’s also the Ur Example of Eurostile Bold Extended’s regular appearance in spacecraft user interfaces. [via]
posted by planetesimal (36 comments total) 55 users marked this as a favorite

 
The [via] link contains more information on the blog's author.
posted by planetesimal at 8:01 AM on February 2


That font doesnt print for shit. All i get is letterblocks. Help.
posted by Colonel Panic at 8:26 AM on February 2


Brilliant piece, even has the mysterious indicator partially marked (to avoid spoilers) "life functions". A message on a screen, sure, why not. But an indicator?!? To quote Galaxy Quest "What is this thing? It serves no useful purpose!"

Oh, and eponysterical-ish.
posted by Stoatfarm at 8:30 AM on February 2


Referring to the hibernation pods being shut down:

Still: if it is going to happen, it may as well happen in what is probably Univers 67 Bold Condensed.

I love his tone when dealing with what can be a dry subject.
posted by arcticseal at 8:30 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


fonts a dry subject? Avast, ye landlubber, pull out your sabre and defend that comment!
posted by infini at 8:36 AM on February 2 [5 favorites]


Fonts are just a baffling subject to me so as someone who still can't really tell the difference between helvetica and arial, I'm doubly impressed by this guy's ability to identify typefaces.
posted by octothorpe at 8:44 AM on February 2


Holy crap, Selectric Manifold. Selectric typeface catalog: pages 1, 2, 3, 4. Someone needs to convert the whole thing into digital fonts. Several of those Selectric fonts could replace my current favorites Consolas and Monaco for programming. How quickly the computer world forgets the past.
posted by scose at 8:47 AM on February 2 [13 favorites]


That [via] was via MeFi's very own Horace Rumpole.
posted by Kattullus at 8:48 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


Well, I'll be! Full circle!
posted by planetesimal at 8:50 AM on February 2


Eurostile. So that's what that 60s squarish sans-serif is. It's a lovely font, and just retro enough to be interesting right now.
posted by Nelson at 8:52 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


...and another page about selectric fonts. The gif links at the top of the page are high resolution. Might have to learn a font editor and trace these.
posted by scose at 8:59 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


The typography in 2001 really enhanced the movie for me -- the attention to detail and beautiful type throughout was amazing.

Contrast: Peter Jackson's otherwise impeccable Hobbit movies, which have captions with inch marks for apostrophes. I almost left the theater.
posted by theredpen at 9:06 AM on February 2 [4 favorites]


The only thing better than posts like this is the treasure trove of links others contribute to them. Only 10 in and I'm not disappointed. Perfect Sunday morning stuff, thanks.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:08 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


That Selectric Manifold font? I'd want to rig up my text editor so it made teletype chatter when I was using it.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:13 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Actually, there might be some mistaking it, because it could just as easily be Eurostile’s precursor, Microgramma. It’s nigh-impossible to tell them apart. Who knows, it could be Microgramma throughout the entire film. Let’s just call it Eurostile and get on with things.

Microgramma is closer to frickin' Blippo than EBE2. Microgramma and Eurostile Bold Extended #2 are world's apart.
posted by hal9k at 9:41 AM on February 2


Heh.
Double points to hal9k for the Blippo drop. Ad Lib, anyone?
posted by Thorzdad at 9:48 AM on February 2


...captions with inch marks for apostrophes. I almost left the theater.

I hope you composed a sternly-worded letter, in an appropriate font!
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:57 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


fonts a dry subject?

I meant the hibernation pods.
posted by arcticseal at 10:09 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


This is almost porn for me.
posted by mrbill at 10:26 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


This is wonderful. Thanks for posting.

The original signage at Dulles Airport in DC used a font apparently of Eero Saarinen's own design that strongly resembles Eurostile Extended. I applaud whomever it was in the architecture firms doing the renovations ten years ago that asked Christian Schwartz (linked above) to recreate it — the Frutiger signs that had sprung up in the interim don't have the same impact. I think my favorite placement is in the central-terminal station of the new people-mover system. The interior-lit/frosted-glass walkways and enclosed trackways are undeniably of this century, but manage to fit neatly into the original architecture, and the hexagonal metal pillars along the middle of the platform are such an obvious nod to sci-fi. It's neat to see how these aesthetics have come back from the 1960s after being filtered through films like 2001.
posted by spitefulcrow at 11:01 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


Good stuff. I guess we can expect lots of Bank Gothic In forthcoming entries, since that seems to have been the go-to standard for sci-fi film posters for several years.
posted by iotic at 11:50 AM on February 2


Once you start looking for Eurostile you'll see notice it everywhere: television shows, speedometers and watch faces, corporate logos, etc.
posted by Rhomboid at 11:50 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


I use my plastic dalkron every day . . . sometimes even twice!
posted by nostrada at 12:11 PM on February 2


Neutra is also ubiquitous.
posted by miss tea at 12:20 PM on February 2


Wes Anderson used the hell out of Futura in "The Royal Tannenbaums". Almost everything in the movie is set in it.
posted by Mcable at 12:53 PM on February 2


Also, if you look at photos of spacecraft from the time, You see a lot of warning and service placards set in Futura. Kubrick didn't just pull that detail out of his ass.
posted by Mcable at 1:03 PM on February 2


I would have liked more analysis into the font choices, the why, and the influence on the aesthetics. As it is, it mostly just feels like an ongoing list, and endless roll of sans-serif typefaces.
posted by Canageek at 1:20 PM on February 2


So that's what that 60s squarish sans-serif is. It's a lovely font, and just retro enough to be interesting right now.

Eeeeeeuuurgh. I spent a few years working for a company for whom Eurostile was our Official Company Font (yet not, for some inexplicable reason, used in our logo) and oh god every time I see that font I have the worst grey cubicle flashbacks somebody hold me please
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:32 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


It's a lovely font, and just retro enough to be interesting right now.

Eh. I fell in love with it from the original Star Trek Technical Manual [example], but eventually realized it's been horribly overused (as noted, both Kubrick and Trek seem to have borrowed it from NASA). For all its simplicity, it is hard to make it work with a wide variety of aesthetics.
posted by dhartung at 3:48 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


My earliest memories of space-based Futura were from Lost in Space.
posted by JoeZydeco at 4:35 PM on February 2


That does not compute.
posted by infini at 11:15 PM on February 2


That Selectric Manifold font? I'd want to rig up my text editor so it made teletype chatter yt when I was using it.


Model-M Keyboard
FTW!
posted by mikelieman at 2:13 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]


I've always been a typography fan, especially when it comes to sci fi. I just never realised it. Of all people, it took Weird Al Yankovic to make me realise it.

(I know that video has no relavence to sci fi, but it triggered one of those rare moments of self-realisation - "Huh, I really appreciate a well chosen typeface!")
posted by Diag at 4:09 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]


The original deed restrictions for my neighborhood (Houston Westchase area, Tanglewilde/Westheimer, circa 1955-1961), are in Futura (PDFs) as far as I can tell.
posted by mrbill at 8:07 AM on February 3


Nevada County, CA issues permits in Comic Sans. No, really. It's a friendly county.
posted by Nelson at 11:08 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]


Speaking of 2001: Computers Watching Movies (2001: A Space Odyssey)
posted by homunculus at 9:20 PM on February 3


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