The fabulous fifties was a time to be alive! This was the decade that utopians and dystopian literature of science fiction had grown in popularity. Childhood’s End is predominantly a comment of the 1950’s society of the author, Arthur C. Clarke, rather than a reaction. Society in this novel changes miraculously from crisis to an absence of world issues. Technology advances throughout the novel making a more efficient lifestyle for the humans. Also, transportation drastically evolves in this novel as Clarke introduces new types of transportation. Childhood’s End is a perfect example of a utopian world by change.
Arthur C. Clarke’s novel portrays a difference in society to bring peace to all. Some of the changes to society are the human beliefs, increasing imagination, and the decrease of crime. During this time period, many people believed in the devil as evil, but this novel conveys the opposite. The Overlords are sent by the Overminds to bring peace on Earth despite looking like the devil. To the humans, “the shock of revulsion had passed swiftly, though there were many who prided themselves on their freedom from superstition yet would never be able to face one of the Overlords” (Clarke 63).
After seeing the Overlords and their work, the humans change their beliefs on the devil because the devil has only brought peace to Earth and this gains the humans trust. Then, the Overlords give children peace by giving the children mental and physical abilities to enhance the children’s imagination. These powers are, “like an epidemic spreading swiftly from land to land, the metamorphosis infected the human race. It touched practically no one above the age of ten, and practically no one below that age escaped” (172).
This act makes people cheerful because in a perfect world, there is hardly any imagination due to the fact that every idea already exists. One of the Overlord’s biggest achievements is decreasing crime on Earth. It is clear to the humans that, “crime had practically vanished. It had become both unnecessary and impossible. When no one lacks anything, there is no point in stealing. Moreover, all potential criminals knew that there could be no escape from the surveillance of the Overlords” (65). Having less crime on Earth creates a positive and friendly atmosphere for everyone to tolerate.
At the time of this novel, World War II was taking place and this novel comments how Earth should become crime free to make living more secure. Therefore, Arthur C. Clarke comments that society should be less judgemental, increase imagination, and decrease crime on Earth to enhance society. The 1950’s was many decades ago and not many life changing inventions had existed yet. This novel portrays futuristic inventions such as self-sufficient houses, a screen to view everywhere on the planet, and an in ear voice to keep humans out of danger.
Self-sufficient homes are ideal for many because this allows humans to live wherever one pleases. Most humans, “had two homes, in widely separated parts of the world... there was nowhere on the planet where science and technology could not provide one with a comfortable home” (104). Having a self-sufficient home was unlikely in the fifties as technology had not advanced enough to date. Arthur C. Clarke comments that the future should have self-sufficient homes to have humans adapt to new living areas across the globe.
Another invention is the giant screen that contains a view of the entire Earth, anyplace, anytime. The Overlords, “stood behind the three pilots watching the patterns come and go on the great screen that dominated the control room” (51). This is an invention that is use to track humans to keep human existence running which is also use to stop crime. The final invention that the Overlords create is an in ear voice controller to tell humans how to protect themselves from death.
An example of this invention is when a tsunami hit New Athens, a child recalls, “I was right down the beach, by the old wreck, when the voice spoke… get up the hill as quickly as you can. You’ll be drowned if you stay here” (148). Arthur C. Clarke comments that this invention will save many lives during many disasters and would be a great invention in the future. Therefore, Arthur C. Clarke conveys that by making technological advancements in the future, this will help make the human race survive longer and enjoyable.
At last, the fifties lacked much transportation and what existed could only be afforded by the wealthy as cars were luxuries. This novel portrays convenient ways for humans to get around such as illusions of being in multiple places at the same time, recognizing the time difference on Earth versus outer space, and creating air transportation. When the Overlords first arrive on Earth, space ships appear over the major cities enabling humans to believe that there are aliens inside each ship. These aircrafts are later discovered that, “the ships above man’s other cities had never existed.
The day before, the great fleet of the Overlords had dissolved into nothingness… the ships over the capitals of Earth had been an illusion” (59). This invention allows humans to be in multiple places at once because the Overlords create illusions which will be useful in the future. Transportation of space ships undergoes many tests that allow the humans to recognize that space time is shorter than Earth’s time.
The humans realize, “the Overlord ships reach more than 99 percent of the speed of light, so the trip must last forty years of our time… trange things happen as one approaches the speed of light. Time itself begins to flow at a different rate- to pass more slowly, so that what would be months on Earth would be no more than days on the ships of the Overlords” (116-117). This conveys that Arthur C. Clarke is a good astronomer for including his knowledge from his studies into this novel to educate the readers about space travel.
Finally, transportation is increase during the novel by the invention of air travel, Due to the Overlords, “everyone was free to go anywhere at a moment’s notice… he ordinary private flyer or air car had no wings at all or indeed only visible control surfaces” (66). Air transport is a comment of the author wanting to go places easily. This invention fulfills Arthur C. Clarke’s comment because in the fifties, cars were just being created and very few airplanes existed Therefore, Childhood’s End is a comment to the 1950’s society to develop new transportation advancements to allow humans to travel around the world effortlessly.
Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End is majority a comment of the 1950’s society. This novel changes the views of the humans, allows imagination to exist, and abolishes crime to make Earth’s society a better place. Also, the technological advances of creating self-sufficient houses, a screen to watch over the Earth, and an in ear life saver will help the future on this planet by saving the human race.
Transportation advances such as being in multiple places at the same time, the time difference in space, and the invention of air transport will help make the world a more develop planet throughout each country. With all these utopian features, Earth will become a utopia as long as society changes, technology enhances and transportation becomes more efficient instead o having wars, killing humans, and living in hardships like the 1950’s. In conclusion, a utopian planet is achievable if everyone changes, will you change for a better life on Earth?