If you haven't read 'Childhood's End' by Arthur C. Clarke, I'm about to spoil it for you so continue reading at your own discretion. Childhood's End blew my mind when I first read it many many years ago; it opened my eyes to exactly what Science Fiction was capable of. Before that I was more of a Fantasy geek; I really enjoyed the epic battles of Good Vs. Evil and knew very well how a good fantasy novel could speak to the moral center of your mind. I tended to feel that Science Fiction was a bit stupid; I loved Star Wars but knew that that was essentially a western in space. I hadn't really read much Science Fiction because why waste time with that when I could re-read the Robert Jordan series?
At any rate, I found myself reading Childhood's End and as I said, it changed a few things for me. It's about a race of aliens who appear in a ship one day, and decree an end to all strife and warfare on Earth. Anyone who ignores the warning and starts some international bullying gets a super blast of the alien laser canon of doom from above. It turns out that the aliens play the role of a sort of galactic nursemaid; they are here to supervise humanity's transition to the next step of our evolution to join the galaxy's more civil population. There are a few other things going on in the book but that's enough to be going on with for our purposes.
With all of the 2012 insanity going on these days, and that deeply stupid looking disaster movie exploiting people's irrational fears of the Mayan prophecy, I really think that someone should make a movie of Childhood's End and update it to tie in with 2012. For the record, I don't buy for a second that 2012 is going to be any more dramatic than Y2K was, or the 7th Day Adventist's original belief that the Return of Christ was to occur in 1844. Even the Mayans, contrary to popular belief, don't predict disaster so much as the end of the world as we know it. They saw something more like a sort of renaissance of humanity, or perhaps a disaster or event which leads to a new state of mind. This is a much nicer thought and Childhood's End is an apt vision for this belief. The novel was originally published in 1953, based on a short story that Clarke wrote in 1950, and to the best of my knowledge and research he did not intend for it to have anything to do with the Mayan prophecies of 2012; however it seems to be a perfect fit.
I don't believe that a pleasant state of mind is going to occur in 2012, either, especially if that nitwit Sarah Palin actually succeeds in being nominated for the Republican presidential bid. However I do believe that should humanity survive such a disaster, someday we will reach the next stage in our evolution and it's far more exciting to entertain such notions than it is to watch apocalypse porn. It's time to put aside childish things, humanity.