If science fiction usually treads the fine line between mere speculation and actual scientific feasibilities, then Arthur C. Clarke can be accused of taking a cosmic leap of faith into the realm of highly unrealistic speculation, in this book.
For at least 75% of the narrative, I remained largely clueless about where the story was heading and for the remaining 25% I couldn't help but roll my eyes at the ludicrousness of it all.Aliens, who are referred to by a fancy name like 'Overlords' (*eyeroll*) to boot, come down from a distant galaxy in the universe and establish their rule over Earthlings. Earth transforms into a kind of utopia in a hundred years during which disease, poverty, hunger, crimes, social inequality, threat of nuclear wars are permanently eliminated thanks to the diplomacy and benevolence of the Overlords. And then comes the shocker or the real reason for the Overlords colonizing our cherished planet - turns out the almighty Overlords are no more than mere agents in the service of an even higher form of intelligence called the 'Overmind' (*more eyeroll*) who seek to tap into the reserves of metaphysical power of the mind of man and help mankind transition into the next stage of evolution.
Don't bother trying to make sense of that last part. It didn't make much sense to me either and I generally keep an open mind while reading science fiction. And what happens at the end sounds way more ridiculous that what I wrote for the sake of this review.
In his effort to explore a subject like existential crisis (why are 'we' here? what is the meaning of life?) and ponder on phenomenon Science has still not been able to explain convincingly enough, Clarke has taken a tumble into the abyss of sheer absurdity. Not even willing suspension of disbelief helped endear me to your theories Mr Clarke.
Mankind's purpose of existence is to birth an ultimate generation of not-very-human children with potent psychic powers (*insert more eyeroll*) who achieve a sort of communion with the 'Overmind' (was this Clarke's euphemism for 'God'?) and get to be one with the Universe. While their progenitors eventually die out, thereby, wiping out the last of the human species as we know it. (Huh?)
Neither is Childhood's End
event-driven nor does it contain the heart-stopping suspense that I have come to associate with Clarke's creations. And to further intensify my lack of interest in the book, none of the characters made an impression.
I guess Clarke's aim was only to propound a theory (albeit a far-fetched one) rather than to weave an intriguing tale revolving around space exploration/travel. And I was clearly not among the target audience of this book.
But this does not in any way diminish my love for Clarke. My science-fiction adoring soul, will come back to this man time and again, in search of a story as fascinating as [b:2001: A Space Odyssey|70535|2001 A Space Odyssey (Space Odyssey, #1)|Arthur C. Clarke|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1348775483s/70535.jpg|208362].
I just hope I find something better next time.**Originally posted on:-April 3rd, 2013**