Chapter 20 Summary
Karellen announces that his work on Earth is done. He regrets the secrecy that has lasted for the hundred years that the Overlords have been guardians of the planet. Knowing that the aliens’ purpose has long been a topic of speculation, he apologizes that the secret was not theirs to reveal. The Overlords saved the Earth from self-destruction. It is true that nuclear proliferation was halted, but that was not the major fear among the races of the universe. Mankind’s greatest threat was what they had only begun to investigate in the twentieth century: paranormal phenomena. Psychic powers were dismissed by human scientists as superstition, a belief that could have spread like a cancer throughout the universe. Therefore, the Overlords were sent to Earth to lead mankind to the next step in evolution.
Karellen surprises human beings with the revelation that the Overlords do not have these powers themselves. Their minds have ceased evolving. So have those of mankind, at least in their present form. The Overlords are on Earth to guide humans to the next level beyond Homo sapiens. This is the last generation of mankind as it has long been on Earth.
As the people of Earth call the aliens “Overlords,” so there is a far superior power that Karellen calls an “Overmind.” It is theorized that the Overmind is trying to grow and extend its powers over the universe. It is not confined to a material existence. It is conscious of intelligence everywhere, and so it sent the Overlords to prepare mankind for the next stage in evolution. All previous changes of the human race took a long time to occur. This final step will be almost instantaneous. The Overlords do not know how the change is produced, only that it begins with a single child and begins to spread like the formation of crystals. Adults will not be affected, since their minds are already formed. The change will have been completed within a few years. The adults will never understand their children, who have evolved into another race of beings. They will not even possess minds as their parents know them. They will be a single entity within the Overmind. The crisis point will occur in a few hours. The Overlords will remain to protect the children, who might be destroyed by the previous generations, even by their own parents. The Overlord ships will begin to evacuate the following day. Karellen begs mankind not to condemn the Overlords, for they shall always envy humans.