There is a question that no doubt crosses our mind from time to time, sometimes just fleetingly and occasionally, when the mind is allowed to wander while idle in a more serious manner. Why are we here? That was one of the first few things that crossed my mind while reading this particular book - Childhood's End. When I finished the book the first time though, it made me feel a tad bit sad... I can't seem to be able to explain it well, so I shall not try.
Now, the book mainly touches the issue of humans and the changes they undergo under the care of the Overlords - who had landed on Earth from a distant sun. It traces the chronology, from the beginning of the invasion (for the lack of a better word) to people's general reaction in the beginning, how their lives are affected after about 50 years and right up till the end when the Overlords take leave because it their time to do so, leaving the last human on Earth behind to witness the destruction (or is it deconstruction?) of the planet.
In the book, we can see that over the years, people seemed to have forgotten their differences, forgotten about war, and everything was like what a utopian society may be, and yet something very crucial to the development of human beings as a species was halted. Creativity, and the inquisitive nature to discover things for ourselves, among others. It makes you wonder if 'real peace' (if there is such a thing) is ever achieved in this lifetime, would we face the same fate? Would we just stop thinking to move forward and accept life as it is? I think it would be awfully dull that way. Imagine if we just stopped at Walkman instead of moving forward to the age of the iPod...
Now, it's been ages since I last read sci-fi, not counting a certain revisit on HG Wells' War of the Worlds somewhere last year, and I found Childhood's End to be a pretty good read (very well written and makes you sit up and think) that I had to read it twice (this is also because I end up reading things really fast and tend to miss out on some important information during the first read) It also makes you keep guessing what is going to happen, who the Overlords are, etc because the story is unfolded in such a way, and peeking at the back of the book - forget it. Just read it.
Edit: I didn't mention this in the post earlier, but the reason I got my hands on this book was because it was lent to me by a friend who's a fan of the book. If you're reading this you know who are. Thanks again.