Book Cover
Title Childhood's End
Series ---
Author Arthur C. Clarke
Cover Art David Stevenson
Publisher Del Rey - 1990
First Printing 1953
Category Science Fiction
Warnings None

Main Characters

Karellan, Rikki Stormgren, Jan Rodricks

Main Elements Aliens

The Overlords appeared suddenly over every city - intellectually, technologically, and militarily superior to humankind. Benevolent, they made few demands: unify earth, eliminate poverty, and end war. With little rebellion, mankind agreed, and a golden age began.

But at what cost? With the advent of peace, man ceased to strive for creative greatness, and a malaise settled over the human race. To those who resisted, it became evident that the Overlords had an agenda of their own.

As civilization approached the crossroads, would the Overlords spell the end for mankind...or the beginning?

How to discuss this book without giving away spoilers? There are many topics covered that are worthy of discussion. I guess it's safe to start with the first. What if aliens came to our world, not to conquer it, but to shephard it? To guide us into a Golden Age where we were no longer at war, developed technology so that no one would go hungry, that money no longer had meaning, and as such, no one needed to work if they didn't want to, and they could work at whatever they did want to. Everyone had access to school. But at the same time, they oddly discouraged any exploration outwards, no more space travel, astronomy pushed to the wayside. One has to wonder what the Overlords had in mind for us.

Well, I can't tell you what it was, did they have nefarious plans for us? Or were they truly the benevolent beings they claimed to be and there was a very good reason for keeping us earth-bound. In the end it wasn't what I expected.

And then, what about art? Sure, people can still paint pretty landscapes, but without strife, without struggle, can we really dig into the depths of expression and create? How many inventions do we use on a daily basis now that we only invented for war? Kleenex...created for cleaning weapons but now used to fight the common cold. Would humans be satisfied in a world of peace or are we just hardwired to make a mess of things, so we can learn from it, to grow from it.

And what if the human race is faced with extinction? I don't have any children but it is still a strange thought that one day everything we've ever done will be forgotten and lost. After all, there are a million ways in which this can happen, no, will happen. We could be hit by an asteroid, or the sun will die. But ultimately, we will evolve. Homo sapiens as a species will cease to exist no matter how you look at it. It will take millenia but eventually we will become something else whether we want it or not. Homo erectus didn't get to choose either.

For a short book, it hits upon some key issues that really make the readers think.

No wonder they made a TV mini-series based on it...however do NOT watch it. They messed it up so badly! First they took the European main character who was the only one who was allowed to directly interact with the Overlords and made him an American as if American audiences can't handle it if they lead isn't one of their homegrown own. Plus, he was a "special snowflake" selected by the aliens, rather than whoever just happened to be the head of the U.N. at the time, and as such selected by us. They also tossed in some dumb love story that isn't in the book, altered timelines a lot (guess I understood that) and even shot and killed Karellen so that our special snowflake American farmer can show how wonderful he is by sacrifcing himself to save the alien!! *sigh*

Posted: December 2016


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