I knew very little about this book going into it other than it was considered to be a Science Fiction classic and that SyFy recently produced a miniseries adaptation of it. When it popped up on sale for $1.99 on Kindle shortly after that, I figured it would be a good time to fill in some of the gaps in my SciFi reading (long story short. My parents were SciFi nerds. I rebelled by being a horror/true crime fanatic). I’m glad I waited until I was a fully formed adult before reading this one. I don’t think I could have appreciated the complexities of it in my youth.
The book opens when earth is visited by powerful but seemingly benevolent beings whom humanity refers to as The Overlords who essentially take over the running of Earth, much to it’s benefit. Through an entirely non-violent and largely hands off approach, The Overlords eliminate war, poverty, racism, animal cruelty, etc. and basically create a Utopia for mankind. However they remain largely mysterious which raises suspicions in many people on Earth. The identity of the Overlords and their true mission is at the crux of this book.
Childhood’s End did not go at all where I expected it to. A lot of older Science Fiction (and some newer) tends to use future technology as a heavy handed allegory and can be very difficult to read. Frankly I viewed this book like a new dieter views health food. It was going to be Good For Me. It would make me Well Rounded. What I got was a beautiful 200 page musing on the nature of man and his place in the universe. This book is sweeping, sad and beautiful and worth picking up, even if you’re not a fan of the genre.