Thursday, January 10, 2013

the end is the beginning is the end

Title: Childhood's End
Author: Arthur C. Clarke
Bookmark: some random receipt.

The morning after Christmas, I drove through a blizzard and developed a scratchy throat and runny nose.  By that night, I was thoroughly miserable.  I started reading the first thing on my hosts' shelf that looked serviceable, and picked it up again the next morning at 4 when I couldn't sleep and had already shoveled the drive.

Being sick gives you plenty of time to read.

I finished reading this book almost two weeks ago.  I'm still not sure how I feel about it.  It covers a couple generations of time on Earth.  The aliens arrive the first night.  Despite their instant influence on our global economy, politics, and propensity for bullfights, nobody actually sees one of the Overlords until almost one hundred years later.

I don't know whether the foreword (which I read from the same volume several months before I started reading the rest of the book) or a Wikipedia article (I tend to read those for books and TV shows I don't actually get to experience first-hand) spoiled it for me, but I'm going to spoil it for you: the aliens look like demons.  Twelve feet tall, dark exoskeletal bodies, horns, wings, tail, the whole nine yards.  Well.  Four yards, I guess.  They're not that tall.  Here's the kicker: that's not even the weirdest part of the book.  Not even remotely close.

To summarize without spoiling anything, the Overlords have been dispatched to our scrappy little corner of the universe as administrators of our evolution.  No shit!  They've hit their own evolutionary dead-end (they don't sleep, are essentially immortal, read at incredible rates, can process information from several channels simultaneously, and are ridiculously intelligent), so now their entire race serves this function all over the damned galaxy, making sure that other races are ready to take The Next Step when the time comes.

Then, naturally, Our Time Comes.

It's all very strange, and as intriguing as some aspects of those next steps sound, I'd just as soon it happens after I'm out of the equation.

Labels: , , ,

posted by reyn at 6:34 PM


Post a Comment