WIJFR: Childhood’s End

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The Overlords appeared suddenly over every city — intellectually, technologically, and militarily superior to humankind. Benevolent, they made few demands: unify earth, eliminate poverty, and end war. With little rebellion, humankind agreed, and a golden age began. But at what cost? With the advent of peace, man ceases to strive for creative greatness, and a malaise settles over the human race. To those who resist, it becomes evident that the Overlords have an agenda of their own. As civilization approaches the crossroads, will the Overlords spell the end for humankind … or the beginning?

The latest book I just finished was Arthur C. Clarke’s classic “<a href=”https://www.amazon.com/Childhoods-End-Del-Rey-Impact/dp/0345444051/175-8959758-0201461/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp&amp&amp&ref_=as_li_ss_tl&amp&linkCode=ll1&tag=chmod64409-20&linkId=024c2bc7f417adf33a07fe59c4311ef4&language=en_US” rel=Nofollow”>Childhood’s End.” Like a few of the other books I’ve read lately, I picked this up as a recommendation from Leo Laporte and Steve Gibson on their Security Now! podcast (it was their Audible pick-of-the-week back in episode #172).

I’ve decided I’m pretty bad at writing these kind of reviews. I can think of all sorts of things to write about while I’m reading, but then when I’m done and it’s time to actually put words down, I come up empty. There are plenty of reviews of these books out there, so what’s the use of another one from me? I’ll just stick to my random thoughts and observations.

I saw a lot of things in Clarke’s book that might have influenced later works, such as:

  • In the opening pages, enormous spaceships suddenly appear over every major city of the planet. Picture the opening sequence of “Independence Day” (Clarke even mentions that in his Foreword).
  • In the second part (“The Golden Age”) there is a community of people living on the remote island of New Athens who are trying to bring the creative arts back from its pre-Overlords heyday (basically a new age commune). This reminded me a lot of the Dharma Initiative in “Lost.”

Here’s one of my favorite passages from the book (I actually marked the page when I read it so I would remember to mention it here):

Do you realize that every day something like five hundred hours of radio and TV pour out over the various channels? If you went without sleep and did nothing else, you could follow less than a twentieth of the entertainment that’s available at the turn of a switch! No wonder that people are becoming passive sponges — absorbing but never creating. Did you know that the average viewing time per person is now three hours a day? Soon people won’t be living their own lives anymore. It will be a full-time job keeping up with the various family serials on TV!

Keep in mind that was written in 1952. Today, of course, the average daily viewing time is much higher (we have DVRs, cell phones, the internet, etc.) making that last line more true than ever.

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