- Paperback: 222 pages
- Publisher: Ballantine Books (1953)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0345027507
- ISBN-13: 978-0345027504
- Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 3.7 x 0.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1,277 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,528,944 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Childhood's End Paperback – 1953
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Top Customer Reviews
"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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is one of the classic sci-fi novels. Arthur C. Clarke has always been one of my favorites.Published 9 days ago by Amazon Customer
The story that influenced "Independence Day." Yet, "Childhood's End" is epic. "2001 a Space Odyssey" epic. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Donald Cain
Great book by one of the best Sci Fi writers and scientist himself.Published 12 days ago by Valerie
An excellent retelling of the book that I read a long time ago. The premise was very interesting and I also noted that this was earlier in Clarke's career, and that he was largely... Read morePublished 13 days ago by Amazon Customer
I am kicking myself (AGAIN) for violating one of my rules and watching the mini-series before reading the book! Read morePublished 14 days ago by Melissa McCauley
Childhoods End started off as a typical alien invasion story but it quickly evolved past that into something larger and much more profound.Published 17 days ago by Stealth Spectre