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Childhood's End (Del Rey Impact) Paperback – July 3, 2001

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Editorial Reviews


“A first-rate tour de force.”The New York Times
“Frighteningly logical, believable, and grimly prophetic . . . [Arthur C.] Clarke is a master.”Los Angeles Times
“There has been nothing like it for years; partly for the actual invention, but partly because here we meet a modern author who understands that there may be things that have a higher claim on humanity than its own ‘survival.’ ”—C. S. Lewis
“As a science fiction writer, Clarke has all the essentials.”—Jeremy Bernstein, The New Yorker

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8 1-hour cassettes --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Del Rey Impact
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; 1st Impact ed edition (July 3, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345444051
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345444059
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (916 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #175,895 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

"SIR ARTHUR C. CLARKE (1917-2008) wrote the novel and co-authored the screenplay for 2001: A Space Odyssey. He has been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, and he is the only science-fiction writer to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. His fiction and nonfiction have sold more than one hundred million copies in print worldwide.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

228 of 248 people found the following review helpful By Claude Avary on January 17, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It sounds like a story you've heard before: great alien masters descend on Earth and take control of the world, ushering in a golden age that may be cleverly disguised creative slavery. But Clarke's legendary novel (equal to _Rendezvous with Rama_ and _2001: A Space Odyssey_ in fame) isn't about a human rebellion against alien overlords, but the evolution of humanity into its next stage, and the ultimate dwarfing power of the unknowable order of the cosmos. The narrative glides between different characters and different eons, occasionally with a seeming clumsiness that turns out to be purposeful plotting devices. The pay-off is sublime science-fiction poetry that shows the genre's power to transcend human drama and fly into the infinite. The sheer scope of its conclusions leaves the reader wiser and sadder, the sign of a superb novel.
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232 of 253 people found the following review helpful By Patrick L. Randall VINE VOICE on December 30, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Author Arthur Charles Clarke is renowned as one of the greatest science fiction writers of all time. His "2001: A Space Odyssey", written with and filmed by Stanley Kubrick, is viewed as one of the seminal works in science fiction history. Obviously, Clarke didn't make his career out of one single book (and movie). He has been quite a prodigious, and proficient, writer. In addition to writing three sequels to the "2001" saga, he also wrote the best-selling "Rama" series, numerous single novels like "Hammer of God" and "Songs of Distant Earth", and untold numbers of short stories. His stories have won just about every conceivable award for this genre and have achieved the dual goal of garnering critical praise and popular approval. Of all his novels, though, it may be one of his earliest that still stands as his best.

"Childhood's End" was first published in 1953, a time when the cold war was in full form and people were beginning to truly look towards the stars for other life and possibilities for exploration. "Childhood's End" tapped into that fertile imagination to craft a story of profound scale and meaning. It begins one day when numerous spaceships suddenly appear in the sky above Earth. They are flown by an alien species referred to as the Overlords. The purpose of their journey to third planet of the Solar System is subject to much speculation and fear. These aliens seem to be a benevolent race that only wants to help humanity solve the problems that plague it. In fifty years, these Overlords will end ignorance, poverty, war, and disease. To what end do they do this, though? The absence of any obstacles and struggles renders humanity complacent and inert.
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245 of 273 people found the following review helpful By HugePedlar on September 21, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have to give this edition one star. The story itself is magnificent, as you'll read in other reviews.

However, the introduction, by Adam Roberts, utterly ruined it for me. It gave away the physical appearance of the Overlords (saying that we learn this 'fairly early' in the book. By my estimate we actually learn this about a third of the way through - NOT early at all, and all the suspense leading up to this revelation is ruined).

The introduction also tells us pretty much exactly how the story ends! I mean what the hell! A book whose overarching theme is the question of what the Overlords are here for and what mystery awaits humanity, and the conclusion of the plot is spoiled before I even got a chance to start reading!

Utterly unforgivable. I feel cheated.

You only get to read a book for the first time once, and this one was ruined before I started. Thanks a lot, Adam Roberts.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 4, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was strictly a dabbler in science fiction, until this book grabbed me and pulled me in. To this day, it ranks as my favourite in the genre.
The Overlords appear one day over every city on Earth, and with little resistance, mankind submits to the technologically superior race. After all, their demands are entirely benevolent; they seem to want no more than to end war, poverty, and the other evils that have always plagued the Earth. But why? Through three generations, a few people endeavour to find out.
What they finally learn is something they never imagined: mankind's terrible and wonderful final destiny, and the part the mysterious Overlords are fated to play in achieving it.
Many of Clarke's novels are somewhat lacking in character development, and though Childhood's End is not an extreme example of this tendency, some fairly important characters are only half-formed. In some books, this is a flaw, but when Clarke is truly in his element, the vagueness of the characters seems to work in the story's favour. Here, particularly, I found myself getting quite attached to characters it seemed I barely knew (including some of the enigmatic aliens).
One feature I particularly liked in this book was the glimpse of the Overlords' home world, a tour of wonders that Clarke knows better than to try and explain in terms of known science, at least not with any detail. If anything, the mystery of it all makes the story-- and the Overlords-- seem more real.
The ending, though inspiring from a certain angle, can be a downer in terms of the characters you come to know and like, no matter where your sympthies end up lying. Mine, in the end, fall with Karellen, the Overlord supervisor, who, like the other Overlord characters, manages to be thoroughly believable despite the fact that his background and motivations remain more or less a mystery.
Science fiction is often infused with philosophy; this book pulls off the mixture better than any other I've read.
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