Arthur C. Clarke is a science fiction master when it comes to creating some incredible novels. His book series, 2001: A Space Odyssey spawned a hit film directed by Stanley Kubrick. This time, I had the privilege of reading Childhood’s End. The book was published in 1953 and spawned a well-received miniseries from the SyFy Channel.
Set in an alternate timeline, the United States and the Soviet Union are racing against time to have the space race begin, but before they do, an alien invasion occurs. Disk shaped vessels appear over the principle cities of the earth. After a time, it is revealed that these aliens promise not to harm the human race, as long as the earth is turned into a utopia. The aliens refuse to identify themselves or reveal their features, only communicating to the United Nations via a dark room.
The first part deals with the interaction and the development of the new world government with the help of the alien ‘supervisors.’ The second half deals with the human interaction between the aliens and the humans, with some creating an isolated colony to preserve human culture while one human stows aboard a vessel to see the alien home-world.
I found the book fascinating and very well written. It is engaging from beginning to end and the interaction between the humans and their alien supervisors is interesting. Clarke was no doubt a great author in his time. My main issue was with the philosophy of the book. It seemed to imply that humanity needs an outside force to help it evolve and succeed. It dismisses individualism in place of collectivism and that bothered me a great deal. To me, the individual is what brings a society forward for only through that can true imagination and creativity flourish.
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