Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A look into the future where Earth is ruled by a benign alien race living in ships orbiting the Earth. Look up from virtually any place and you can see their ships.
But why did they come? They aren’t slave masters and don’t seem to need anything from us?
Childhood’s End is an engrossing look at a what if scenario. We move from character to character through the book, and forward in time. The characters are “real-ish”, if a bit stereotyped, and a bit dated, having been published in 1953. Clarke is more focused on plot than on building complex characters. This plot is interesting and I have read the book at least twice over the many years I’ve owned a copy, but Clarke’s real, hidden, focus is on something else I won’t spoil for you, but which falls into the message category.
Still, I liked the book and if plots and themes are what drives you forward, this book’s for you. If you’re looking for complex relationships and sympathetic characters you won’t be drawn in, nether will it appeal to you if you want to see a lot of action and violence. It does offer a philosophical look forward at humanity that is unique in some respect, and consistent with another famous book of his 2001 A Space Odyssey.
I marked it with 3 stars when I originally rated it, mostly because I like more character depth, but it is a good read nonetheless, and (from me) 3 stars is not always a bad rating.
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