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’s End Essay, Research Paper One could never believe that such a piece as Arthur C. Clarke’s “Childhood’s End,” was written nearly 50 years ago. The story itself

’s End Essay, Research Paper

One could never believe that such a piece as Arthur C. Clarke’s

“Childhood’s End,” was written nearly 50 years ago. The story itself

was far ahead of its time and will probably remain so forever. There

are some who dislike or would rather not read science-fiction because

of its highly idealistic writing and plot outlines. This novel is the

greatest I’ve read of science-fiction as of yet. Taking consideration

into the fact that I am a novice science-fiction reader, one could

dismiss my statement as being naive. However, even if I am mistaken,

Childhood’s End will remain inside my mind and heart as being the very

best at playing out what contact in our world with a sufficiently

advanced extra-terrestrial civilization and our purpose with them and

the rest of the universe would be like.

In the introduction Clarke wrote in 1989, he gives an account of a time

when he and his late friend Val Cleaver were driving to London when they

saw an awe-inspiring sight of silver barrage-balloons anchored above

London. They were protecting against, “the present peril.” I’d like to

think Mr. Clarke has not lost the appreciation for fiction and the human

instinct to imagine incredible things since that time. I’ve heard recently

that he has lost his interest in fiction and instead is concentrating on

reality. How ironic that as Mr. Clarke is ascending (or descending) into

the more realistic universe, the young 18 year-old kid is going in the

complete opposite direction. I suppose Sir Isaac Newton has something to

do with this.

I am not denouncing Mr. Clarke’s realization of the fraudulence of

humanity’s dabbling into the so-called “paranormal.” He is very much

right. But I was glad to see that even he believes that there is

something to it. “Today, I would like to change the target of that

disclaimer to cover 99 percent of the ‘paranormal’ (it can’t all be

nonsense).” One of things I had to tackle after reading Childhood’s

End was what made humanity so special as to surpass the Overlords?

Then it hit me. The one thing that made us special, the one thing

that separated us from them…our ability to comprehend what was

not logical, possible or even sensible. The Overlords, with all of

their massive intelligence, vastly advanced technology and their

ability to learn at a much faster and more efficient rate, still

didn’t attain something we did. I’m not sure if it was just one

thing as it is many parts of one thing. Imagination I suppose best

describes it. The Overlords were practical, efficient beings. One

could relate them to the Vulcan civilization. However this was not

your average star trek.

Oddly enough, Clarke to me seems to be the best at giving both sides

of the story. As one sees the story unfold in his books, they get the

feeling that they are receiving a very detailed, scientifically

accurate account of everything described. Good, but sometimes hard

to relate. He then redeems his genuine fiction writing by putting

in the creative and wondrous ideas and descriptions of what the

reader sees and the characters experience. He still remembers to make

his stories interesting, in other words.

At first glancing at the words, “The end of strife and conflict of

all kinds had also meant the virtual end of creative art. The world

was still living on the glories of a past that could never return,”

I began to think that Clarke was wrong and beginning to get a little

too idealistic. Then, I realized that just as humanity in the book is

coming out of its childhood ways, I too must realize what can or

can’t be. One must take the good with the bad. I found myself

relating to the novel on a whole new level. I had to learn to

understand why this was happening, and that ultimately, it was for

the greater good.

Clarke mastered the outline and sequences of the story so well that

virtually any reader would find themselves in the exact same

position as any person on Earth would, in the event that something

like that would happen. Almost as if the book was Karellen’s

captain’s log on his ship, dispelling everything that occurred and

leaving the most enlightening part for the end. I truly believed that

I was reading something that was beyond anything I had read before.

Surpassing even the insight the late genius Carl Sagan made into Pi

at the closing pages of “Contact.” While the descriptions of the

Overlords’ home planet were somewhat trifling for my abilities to

imagine inside my head, I had to re-read a few of the passages Clarke

wrote. I’m sure even the character of Jan had difficulty taking

it all in.

I have, under much consideration, contemplated the production of

this story into a full-fledged motion picture event. Each page keeps the

reader addicted. I found myself reading the third chapter after ten

minutes, at first only intending to read the first couple of pages. What

an incredible movie it would indeed make! Very idealistic and daring,

but so were many blockbusters in the past…Star Wars, Close Encounters

of the Third Kind, Titanic, and the beautiful 2001: A Space Odyssey.

(This young man hopes one day to see this on the big screen.) I’m sure

Mr. Clarke is very interested in trying to make it into a movie. However,

he gives his reasons why he might not happen, “According to information

I’ve just received from the Hollywood Gulags, the current asking-price

for Childhood’s End is more than two hundred times that of the perfectly

satisfactory fee I received in 1956.” Money, of course is always the

ultimate consideration in Hollywood. What is needed are sources in

Hollywood that transcend the suits with their past creative successes.

Such people include Clarke’s friend, Steven Spielberg, and collaborator

Stanley Kubrick. Even I began to envision each of the scenes in a Kubrick

way. Once done by Robert Zemeckis with Carl Sagan’s Contact, I to hope

to see this film started before the set of Arthur Clarke. If this book

is every made into a movie, I sincerely hope the screenwriter and director

leave virtually every part intact. In the unlikely event that this essay

is ever read by the great author himself, I’d like it known by him that

his books and ideals carry on into the next millennium and that the young

man writing this essay has made it a personal goal to do his best to

show the story of Childhood’s End on the big screen. I say its time for

Clarke to be recognized once again on film.

The ending of the book, and I’m sure others would agree with me, had

the greatest effect on me. I was able to envision every minute detail

and emotion. The dreams and experiences of Jeffery, the realization of

his parents that their child is no longer human, the gathering of the

children going away. What an incredible vision I saw! It was so bold

and so real that many times I found myself perspiring all over and even

shedding a tear or two at how beautifully the story seemed to me. Jan,

reporting back to the Overlords of what he was seeing and feeling…the

mere thought of what might be going through his head was enough for me to

stop reading. Yes, I’m sure that wasn’t Clarke’s intention. I found it

too good to be true. The story continuously evolved onto a new level of

comprehension and experience. The goose-bumps on my body now began to

hurt after each page I turned. This was what science-fiction was all

about! This is why I love science-fiction! Incredible events that

captivate and entangle us unto a new level of comprehension and

understanding. Jan was the last man on Earth and it was up to him to

give his account of the end of the world. How impossibly exhilarating

that would be. Seeing your own world disappear before your eyes, and

you with it. But this isn’t a tragedy of mankind. Instead, I thought

long and hard about how this book ended. About how humanity ended. A

very noble and respectful way for mankind to end. Knowing that each

event in the past was not spent in futility. Instead as a milestone

on the ascending hill to infinity. Each step a part of the ultimate

destination that was reached. True, one could say it wasn’t us that

attained that final step, but it was. Perhaps not physically or

psychologically, but it was our voyage that made it happen. The whole

time, protected by those who see us shine and fly past them on their way

to the top. Incredible! How symbolic of any young person’s voyage into

the real world. At fist protected by their parents and mentors, they are

taught how to deal with the powerful forces that lie beyond them. They

are taught to accept the fact that old games and childish actions of

their youth must leave them. They are taught that they have a destiny,

and they would have to construct it on their own one day. Just think of

how a young man, just beginning his voyage into the real world, can see

this as being almost allegorical.

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