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Childhood's End (Del Rey Impact) Paperback – July 3, 2001
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“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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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
A truly fantastic book since when the "magical" power of the mind steps in, which is not exactly to be expected in a hard sci-fi book. Read morePublished 10 hours ago by Maurizio
Great alien, and I think the science would have been cutting edge when the book was written (and isn't really outdated, even all these years later). Read morePublished 6 days ago by Patty Meeks
there is not a book by arthur c. clarke that i would not like. one of the greatest writers of all time!Published 7 days ago by bakerstreet
Good tale, very well told. Only hope that it will not come true. Would human kind trade several good years for what we got.Published 9 days ago by Steve Rider
Yet is fast paced and well written. There are some interesting insights into the future of the human race as well as life on other worlds.Published 11 days ago by relube
Not so much like this book. interesting at times, cool ideas, but not like the book so much. It is okay, just lamePublished 13 days ago by Ken K
I thought this was an entertaining book. It was a good summer read and kept me interested while on vacation.Published 13 days ago by Amazon Customer
A surprisingly astute and modern story given it was written in the 60s.Published 14 days ago by Bryan Hamilton