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I love mustelid haberdashery, vinho verde wine, and wensleydale with fruit.

Childhood's End

Childhood's End - Arthur C. Clarke I’ve been recommended this book a number of times and I just can’t get on board with it. The writing is choppy and a bit sloppy. I feel like whenever the author couldn’t flesh something out, he just let his little characters get expositiony and explain it to us (or he did) because he couldn’t think of a better way. There’s a lot of “tell, not show.”

It’s a book written in three parts: The first is pretty simple, with the USSR and USA each racing to the stars when giant spaceships appear and the planet is taken over by these “Overlords” - benevolent dictators who are protecting us from within and without. You have to do what they say, but they place few restrictions, although I do find it interesting that we can’t unnecessarily hurt animals, but the entire patriarchal society is AOK with our masters. The whole time this is going on, I felt that the story was very “Colonialism, yay!” There’s a little push-back from untrusting humans, but the Overlords promise to reveal themselves in 50 years and that put an end to that (what?!).

The next part is the Golden Age, where the Overlords (who are revealed to look an awful lot like depictions of Satan) help us camp out and just be happy in our utopia. Proving to me that one man’s utopia is another (woman’s) dystopia. Everything is taken care of, necessities are free, and we are free to play sports, study, work, and do whatever we want. In this Utopia, there are no more religions (yay!), and yet it appears that whole social constructs of the 50s are fully in tact. Sure, you can have your flying car, but your woman better be over there and keep her mouth shut. Oh the sexism, it burns. And the entire thing is very Western civ. So yeah, we have Western civ, privileged white dude writes about the future being a western civ white dude’s utopia. Ok, just kidding... maybe... but this book is RIFE with sexism and ample western civ sensibilities. There’s a bit in here about the Overlords being curious about psychic stuff, which is interesting. A little bit more plot shenanigans.

The final part is about the future evolution of mankind, which I can’t get into very much without spoiling the whole thing (as it's the only interesting part, in my opinion), but it’s all rather depressing, or awesome, depending on how you look at it. The Overlord’s endgame is laid out and so is the future of humanity.

I just find it odd, and funny, how we can have flying cars and awesome things and talk about the next step or evolution of man, but social constructs can’t change. I found it distracting, but the book is very much a book of ideas, and I could see how it might be interesting when it was written. As for me, I wasn’t overly impressed. Great ideas were in there, I just wasn’t thrilled with the execution.

The interesting ideas expressed are the ONLY thing that bumped it from "meh" to "interesting" (or as GR calls it "liked").