Childhood’s End is a 1953 science fiction novel by the British author Arthur C. Clarke. The story follows the peaceful alien invasion of Earth by the mysterious Overlords, whose arrival ends all war, helps form a world government, and turns the planet into a near-utopia. Many questions are asked about the origins and mission of the aliens, but they avoid answering, preferring to remain in their spacecraft, governing through indirect rule. Decades later, the Overlords show themselves, and their impact on human culture leads to a final utopic Golden Age, but at the cost of humanity’s identity and eventually the planet itself.
I loved this book.
I first read it as a reluctant adolescent resident at Alameda County’s “Snedigar Cottage” — a sort of county facility for street kids, kids taken from their parents by the state, abandoned kids (my case), and so on, and on.
To somebody’s credit, there was a program called “The BookMobile” — where a huge mobile library came to our grounds on a monthly basis and allowed us to “borrow” books on the honor system. This is one of the coolest things I remember about being a “Kastout Kid” — I got to read and educate myself at will, and learn some basic responsibility. And I did. If you didn’t return the books, or returned them jacked up… no more books for you!
This fantastical book by Arthur C. Clarke, along with so many others that left me craving more — I’ll mention “The Third Eye” by T. Lobsang Rampa — opened my mind to higher concepts that somehow made sense to me.
The thing is, I was completely fascinated with the idea that there were smarter beings in the Universe than us. In fact, I clung to the idea like a lifeline. Small wonder. My best examples of responsible humans were overwhelmed, dysfunctional parents (are there any other kind?) who’s dreams of a better future were dashed by reality, overwhelmed social workers, and underpaid “counselors” at The Cottage.
To me, it appeared that everybody in the world seemed to be frustrated, overwhelmed, fighting about something, and becoming more polarized.
Evidently, they were — but I was determined to find higher ground.