|Can Jennifer come out and play?|
Imagine Greater Cash Flow
I imagine it was a difficult challenge for Syfy to present a version of Childhood's End that conforms to its television mi$$ion while also being true to Clarke's vision. Did they bend and magnify that vision or shatter it?
|The End of the World.|
How can anyone possibly tell a story about space aliens who lead an existence that is beyond what we humans can imagine? Clarke, Kubrick and Syfy were forced to craft tales of enigmatic ambiguity while struggling to provide an audience with entertainment and edification.
|Karellen's Last Picture Show.|
Karellen and the "Overlords" serve as a near-human intermediate between a human audience and the unknowable Overmind. In the end, we get a brief peek at an alien planet: Jenjedda, in the "Carina star system" (apparently Miaplacidus is the star, 111 light-years away), a world with lotsa lava. Jenjedda is presented to viewers as a vision of the mythical hell.
We get to witness an alien world because Milo stays fresh in a futuristic alien zip-lock storage bag for the 50 year trip from Earth to Jenjedda.
|Vindarten greets Milo near Jenjedda|
Staying just long enough on Jenjedda for the aliens to off-load the last of their collected bio-samples from Earth (including a giant squid) Milo and Vindarten quickly return to Earth, arriving just in time to see Earth sucked dry of all its last remaining "energy" by Jennifer.
It's Not OVERmind Until It's OVERmind
|Return to Jenjedda: we'll have a hot time tonight.|
Viewers would like to know if the Overmind made sure that the "Overlords" could never merge into the collective consciousness of the universe or if maybe it was just some fluke of evolution that leaves them trapped in the physical universe, but in Hollywood nothing needs to be explained. I like to think that the "Overlords" are simply peaceful and kind and careful enough so that they can successfully create a space-faring civilization that does not destroy itself. They deserve to inherit the material universe of stars and galaxies. All the many "failure species" (such as we humans) need to be protected from self-destruction and quickly sucked into the Overmind ASAP.
|Jenjedda's portal to the Overmind.|
Arthur Clarke showed Humanity being sucked into the Overmind, but going down while continuing our great struggle to explore, hypothesize and understand.
|A great send-up.|
Of course, there is no Overmind, but what should we humans expect if and when we have our First Contact with space aliens? The usual Hollywood answer to that question is: invaders, just like a Mongolian horde arriving to pillage Europe. Clarke had a more rational and a more interesting vision of what First Contact might be like.
|Red number nuke day.|
Syfy's adaptation blurred its projected image of Clarke's vision by showing us a dozen hapless characters who were simply lost and bumbling (or even atomic bombing) their way to the grave. Yes, Milo is on screen occasionally, doing some sort of Hollywoodesque science, but his lone voice is lost in the Syfy wilderness and he never really manages to "science the shit out of" the Overlords.
|Milo experiences contact with the Overmind.|
Clarke's novel illustrates how humans use science to explore the universe. Yes, we can get ourselves into trouble. In 1953, the possibility of nuclear war was on Clarke's mind. Here in 2015, our attention has shifted to CO2 and climate change. In the future there will be additional challenges to our ingenuity and self-control. An alien Supervisor is not going to show up and save us from ourselves. Our childhood's end will arrive after we have all successfully snapped out of our dreaming fantasies, our myths and fantasies about there being a god-like force watching over us. Really: we have to grow up and take care of ourselves.
|The City at the Edge of Forever.|
|reading is fundamental|
|Tails high, brothers!|
"this “Childhood’s End” is so wrapped up in perpetuating suspense that it’s not very thought-provoking" - Tim Grierson
Next: the end of science fiction?
|Karellen sure knows how to get a rise out of the children. Maybe Syfy will|
do a television series that follows Karellen on future assignments around the galaxy