Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Hollywood highbrow in 2050?

Childhood's End
"... most of [Hollywood] 2050's productions would have seemed incomprehensibly highbrow to 1950."
Oh dear. I can't see this vision of the future becoming reality any time soon.

Childhood's End begins in the aftermath of WW2, when the development of nuclear weapons threatened to annihilate life on earth. Spaceships arrive and hover over the world, and alien Overlords establish order to ensure humans do not destroy themselves.

As a story, I can see why the book is highly rated but it just didn't appeal to me. The writing style felt unemotional and the characters flat, which left me struggling to identify with anyone. There was a distinct lack of decently portrayed women, perhaps because at the time of writing, women's main role in society was to raise children. So perhaps I'm being unfair in judging the book on such quotes as, "it was such a nuisance that men were fundamentally polygamous", or, "Jean ceased to pine for the car, and discovered all the things one could do with one's own kitchen."

It's not a character driven story and neither is the setting important. I didn't get a sense of place, apart from scenes set on the island of Athens. When the book was published in the early 1950s, space travel was what excited people; to imagine what is out there beyond planet earth in terms of other worlds and higher intelligence.

So, does it matter if Clarke's descriptions of life in the 21st century were off target? Probably not.

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