by Arthur C. Clarke
This is another great book by Arthur C. Clarke. This is the third that I’ve read and I think this might be my favorite of the ones I’ve read thus far. The writing again is top notch. The tech writing is amazing and sounds reasonable. And I hear there is a television miniseries coming out as well. I’ll be interested to see how that differs from the book.
When I first got into this book I wasn’t sure where it was heading. Early thoughts I had revolved around colonialism and the cold war. The basic idea early on in the book is that aliens have arrived on Earth and take over the planet. And those thoughts fit. But as the story develops it became clear that that was not the case. Within the context of the story it seemed to be about human evolution and our connection with the universe.
It’s interesting that my early thoughts on the story changed later on with the revels. Particularly when the aliens, referred to as the “Overlords”, finally reveal themselves to the humans. Human interaction and thoughts on the “Overlords” changes over time in the book. And that is a huge part of the book, time. From the beginning to the end there is a journey that mankind takes. And it takes a lot of time to go on that excursion.
One common thread that I’ve noticed in Clarke’s work is the superior alien mind. This is readily apparent in those first interactions with aliens and/or their technology. And that is evident here as well. Generally speaking there is a fear of aliens and then over time we see that we should not have been afraid at all. As I reflect on this I find that there is a childlike wonder and awe, in Clarke’s work, in regards to aliens.
The ending really left me conflicted. And I have to say left me feeling sad. But I think there is a hope there that is also uplifting. It’s not always a bad thing to be sad when the book ends. And in this context the title becomes crystal clear and more than appropriate.