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Childhood's End Mass Market Paperback – May 12, 1987
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“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
From the Trade Paperback edition.
From the Publisher
CHILDHOOD'S END and 3001: FINAL ODYSSEY
A couple of years ago, at the national television syndication convention, I was chatting with Stan Lee (of Marvel Comics). He was asking me what was up at Del Rey, and I mentioned 3001: FINAL ODYSSEY, as well as the new mass market edition we'd just done of CHILDHOOD'S END. Stan stated enthusiastically that, if there was one thing he most wanted to do in this world, it was make a movie of CHILDHOOD'S END, one of his favorite novels. He apparently loves Clarke's work.
So when I got back to the office, I dropped a copy of the two books into the mail. About a week later I was listening to my lunchtime voice mail messages, and there were Stan's unmistakeable tones, sincerely thanking me for the books. This guy deals with the James Cameron's of the world, yet a gift of Arthur C. Clarke causes him to make the time to express his gratitude.
--Steve Saffel, Senior Editor
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Top customer reviews
The title, “Childhood’s End” is a metaphor for the evolution of the human race to a higher level. That evolution is shepherded by an alien species called Overlords in the book. In only 226 pages, Clarke takes us through an understanding of the Overloads and their somewhat benign relationship with man, a visit to the aliens’ home world, and the evolution of our species. His prose is tight and gorgeous; and paints marvelous pictures throughout the story. It is an easy, quick read that will stay with you long after. Why this book has not been turned into a film is beyond me, although I do think it has probably inspired many other movies.
Some readers complain the book is a bit of a downer. I did not read it that way at all. I highly recommend “Childhood’s End” to any science fiction fan.
This is a unique tale of humanity. Where did we come from and where are we going? What is our place in the universe? Do we have one?
The book starts with the arrival of an alien race deemed, "The Overlords". They communicate through one man, but he never sees them. The Overlords say it will be 50 years before they reveal themselves to humans, which will help humans get used to them and their appearance.
When those 50 years pass, their appearance is made and is shocking, but the story Clarke weaves to describe how they look and how that figures into the distant past and the present is brilliant. I remember reading it over and over again because it just made so much sense. Is it really possible for past events to echo throughout history? Clarke makes it real and believable.
The Overlords are here to help humanity through the next stage of its evolution--to join with other races in the universe, although not through space travel. The evolution combines a sense of exhilaration with a profound sense of loss. To move forward, humanity must give up its past--and its future. Once again, the story is absolutely brilliant.
I finished the book feeling sad, not for humans, but for The Overlords. They guided humans through their evolution, along with many other races, but can't accompany them on the journey. For all the knowledge and technology they have, they have this limitation. It seems they are only doing their jobs as given to them by the universe.
Childhood's End is still the best book I have ever read.
I'm a life-long SF fan and Arthur C. Clarke is near the top of my list of great authors. His writing is beautiful and evocative. I still have a mental image from one of his books of a monorail on the Moon dipping into shadow then rising into sunlight, and from another of a guy floating on a long tether, surrounded by stars, between Earth and Mars.
He was no mere dreamer; he had a lot to do with Britain's radar defenses in WW2 and is credited with inventing the idea of communication satellites.
Bottom line: If it's by Arthur C. Clarke, buy it!
My own children have just started to leave home, so Clarke's tale of human evolution and transformation resonates quite strongly with me. They are moving into a future I will be unable to enter. I've seen and read a lot of SF in my time and no one has told this kind of story better than Clarke. I'm sure I would not have appreciated its nuances as a teenager.