Feineigle.com - Childhood's End

Home · Book Reports · 2018 · Childhood's End

Published: July 25, 2018 (5 years 8 months ago.)
Tags:  Fiction · Sci-Fi

The book in...
One sentence:
Overt, Generation-spanning social engineering both in the story and in the meta-story.

Five sentences:
This one moves very fast and covers lots of ground in a large world over several generations with so many characters with varying degrees of identifiablity that it is sometimes hard to know who is who. The story itself takes several turns when it comes to plot and keeps the reader well engaged. Within the stories themselves, I see lots of allusion to the oligarchy and the real world social engineering wrapped up in a science fiction story. I think Clarke was an agent or an asset, priming the pump with this kind of overlords make the world better thinking, while simultaneously giving a kind of blow off value to those rugged individualists. You could read it from either perspective and identify with a future, that was probably already well under construction.

designates my notes. / designates important.



Spoilers ahead.

There seemed to be only 2 or 3 chapters, but that might have been my digital copy. Either way, it felt like it jumped around quite a bit. The story covers something like 100 years or so, spanning several generations, but that isn’t what I mean when I say it jumped around.

There will be a scene and when it is over, the jump to the next scene is abrupt and doesn’t flow gently. I have been noticing this the more carefully I look at how (fiction) books are written instead of focusing only on the story.

This is no criticism, and it might be obvious, but I am only now really noticing.

There was not a lot of lengthy dialog, with a few long monologues here and there. There was tension throughout the whole book; the tension shifted focus several times. At first there is a somewhat disjointed introduction of the USA/USSR space race interrupted by the arrival of the Overlords that is never looked at again. All the characters that were introduced are discarded after only a few pages for a whole new cast. This happens several times throughout.

What I thought was the main plot, the revelation of the Overlords, was actually sorted out about halfway through and a whole new plot came about.

There are many sub plots, including a kidnapping, the attempt to look behind the one-way glass, the Freedom League versus the Overlords, the stowaway, New Athens, and the change in the children. Maybe even more.

It felt a little too busy sometimes, but it was engaging none-the-less. I didn’t ever feel bored nor did I want to put it down. I was compelled to read on, to find out what was going to happen next, though I can’t say I identified with any of the characters.


One theme I couldn’t help but notice was how, and I don’t think I simply projecting here, the Overlords and/or Overmind is synonymous with the oligarchy. Clarke had a military background and was no fool. He mentions the use of social engineering and what we would today call soft power on several occasions.

He specifically mentions Norbert Weiner and how mathematics was used to determine how New Athens was set up and run, from production to population, was determined by ‘mathematical sociologists’. It was interesting that, for no apparent reason, Clarke mentions that the founder of New Athens, with all of its central planning was a Jew.

“We’re ruled by a Council of eight directors, representing Production, Power, Social Engineering, Art, Economics, Science, Sport, and Philosophy. There’s no permanent chairman or president. The chair’s held by each of the directors in rotation for a year at a time.

In the end, the children are taken away from their parents when the children evolve.

I see the similarities between this story and the indoctrination of children through compulsory education and removing them from their parents, something I written about for a while now.

I would not be surprised to find out Clarke was carrying water for the oligarchy when he wrote this (and other) books. The same way movies are used today to predictively program us for the future (see: LBGT and artificial intelligence) these golden age science fiction authors, like Heinlein, Asimov, Dick, etc, were used to sow the seeds we see blossoming today.

Exceptional Excepts

page 7:
page 9:
page 42:
page 44:
page 45:
page 50:
page 54:
page 108:
page 109:
page 112:
page 113: