A Short Book Review: Childhood’s End

Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke is a science fiction novel published in 1953 and it follows the coming on Earth of an alien race nicknamed ‘the Overlords’. Their invasion is peaceful and it marks a new beginning for mankind. Wars, famine, crime and injustice – they all come to a halt.

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Karellen, the supervisor of the alien visitors, stays out of the sight of humans for half a century, safe in his ship, anchored high above the ground. He promises to show up when the world will be prepared, hoping not to repeat the same mistake they did thousands of years ago when their first contact with humans occurred. Humanity waits patiently and when the time comes people finally understand where the root of ancient superstition comes from, for the appearance of the Overlords is shocking. The book is extended on the span of a hundred years, following the lives of several characters whose actions are utterly insignificant compared to those of their watchers.

I must confess I am not a fan of science fiction books, but this particular one was pretty good. There were some passages where the details provided were totally irrelevant, from my point of view, but the overall story was fantastic. The world Clarke tried to describe is way beyond our imagination, therefore his words may have been vague describing a certain scene, but the feelings those words have aroused sometimes made me feel emptied by all humane worries.

We are small here in our darkened corner of the Universe and maybe just now we are learning that we are not so important after all as all the religions of the world claim. We finally start to understand that there’s nothing we can do to disrupt the course of things in the complex universal net. Acceptance is painful, but our world is new and fragile, thus our very existence may be seen as fallen snow on a spring day that the blazing sun will soon melt away into oblivion.

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2 thoughts on “A Short Book Review: Childhood’s End

    • The Celtiberian says:

      For me the ending of this book was a metaphor for human nature. We as a species never seem to know where to draw the line even though it will eventually destroy us. Our planet will someday be reduced to nothing and no matter how big our troubles may seem right now, they don’t really matter in the shadow of the grand physical forces that rule the Universe. ‘Childhood’s End’ is a reminder that our time here on Earth is limited, but unlike the story, we don’t have any alien species to study us and carry knowledge about us to other galaxies. Only when we are forgotten we truly cease to exist.

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