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Childhood's End [Hardcover]

Arthur C. Clarke
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (205 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 1963
The Overlords appeared suddenly over every city - intellectually, technologically, and militarily superior to humankind. Benevolent, they made few demands: unify earth, eliminate poverty, and end war. With little rebellion, humankind agreed, and a golden age began. But at what cost? With the advent of peace, man ceases to strive for creative greatness, and a malaise settles over the human race. To those who resist, it becomes evident that the Overlords have an agenda of their own. As civilization approaches the crossroads, will the Overlords spell the end for humankind...or the beginning? "In Eric Summerer's capable hands, the plot of Childhood's End is smoothly presented and fully credible. ...Summerer excels at delivering the aliens' quiet and intensely engaging dialogue with people. His nuanced performance creates a growing feeling of uneasiness in the listener as the Overlords' insatiable curiosity and watchfulness begin to suggest something less than benign at work." (AudioFile)
--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Review

"A FIRST-RATE TOUR DE FORCE."
--The New York Times

"A FRIGHTENINGLY LOGICAL, BELIEVABLE, AND GRIMLY PROPHETIC TALE . . . CLARKE IS A MASTER."
--Los Angeles Times


From the Trade Paperback edition. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette 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 --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.


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BEFORE SHE FLEW to the launch site, Helena Lyakhov always went through the same ritual. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Greatest Classics March 19 2008
Format:Paperback
This book is one of the greatest classic and most influential works that I have ever read. Not only that, it is also the most prophetic novel as it seemed to reveal the culture to which we now live: a new generation being absorbed to a greatest extent in the worlds of cyberspace and mass media where we might as well be under the control of the extraterrestrial intelligence. This is certainly a book that cannot be put down, as I would surly recommend it.

I won't bring here a spoiler, but to say that this book will certainly leave you as uncertain as well wanting to know more and also not knowing what outcome will be. It is very easy to read and relatively a short book. I was quite amazed at the fact that this book was written over a half a century ago because I felt this book is very relevant today as it was then. It is both terrifying and most certainly an eye-opening read.

Recently, the author Arthur Clarke has passed away and he will greatly be missed. His works and legacy has the greatest impact on the modern culture. His classic works, especially "Childhood's End" and "2001: A Space Odyssey," are highly memorable.
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5.0 out of 5 stars SUBLIME May 22 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
It will now be hard to film Childhood's End because the opening, with the great ships suspended over the cities of the earth, was cribbed, intentionally or by coincidence, for Independence Day. That's a pity because it would make a tremendous film being a shattering and most skilfully written story. Here the visitors have not come to despoil our planet, indeed so well put together is the plot that we may well forget to ask ourselves why they have bothered to come along and preside over a golden age of universal peace, prosperity and others of Clarke's (and my) liberal preoccupations such as no cruelty to animals. The book is not 200 pages long but it combines Clarke's special narrative gifts as a short-story writer with a vision of the whole nature and purpose of the universe that I find staggering and intolerably poignant to this day, 30 years after I first read it.
Brian Aldiss has perceptively said that if Stapledon has a successor it is Clarke, and Clarke himself has told us how deeply Stapledon has influenced him. However this book resembles Stapledon in nothing except the scale of the concept. Childhood's End is written by a recognisable human being with power over our emotions -- power indeed! When the overlord first shows himself, I wondered whether the story could ever recover from such a dramatic coup so early on. I need not have worried. The story has not even begun: the truth, when we finally get it not far from the end, wrenches my innards to this day, and between times the crux of the narrative (the seance) is as brilliant a false clue as was ever laid by Agatha Christie. Those of us who have been cursed or maybe blessed with a compulsion to worry about our world and our fate, and who cannot find any clue to it in bibles and such like, are bound to react emotionally to an effort like this. It is not 'tragic' in Aristotle's sense, but for a 'purging of pity and terror' I'm not sure I know anything like it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars interesting book March 17 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"Childhood's End" is one of the best novels of the 20th century. Arthur C. Clarke is one of the best writers of the period.
Many scenes from this book have been cribbed into the public consensuses over the years via Hollywood movies, some good and some bad. The most specific image copied from it is that of the giant space ship hovering over cities... done so whacked out well in the movie "Independence Day". Of course, there the aliens were evil invaders rather than the benevolent Overlords. Other ideas that morphed from this novel into Hollywood flicks were in the films 2001 and 2010. Of course, Clarke was directly involved with both of those, so they were much more faithful to the source materials. And naturally, Clarke's influences are seen in Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5 and other Hollywood SF series over the years.
The major question dealt with here is "where are we going?" as a species. The weirdness is that many people don't like the answer Clarke attempts to give here. I, myself, don't find it an appealing concept. I am not sure what I don't like about it other than that it seems Alien to me. Very alien. Which is why this is great SF... Clarke makes us feel that we humans can be aliens to ourselves, and not in a normal way. It is something that I think Asimov himself hooked into with his later Foundation novels and the Gaia concept... but Clarke did it first.
Clarke, along with other writers like Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Philip K. Dick, Theodore Sturgeon, Fredrik Pohl, Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, and several others, made the future what, in many ways, it has become.
Clarke has written many other novels on, somewhat, the same concepts... "2001:A Space Odyssey", "Rendezvous with Rama" and "The City and the Stars" standing out, with this novel, as, in my opinion, his best work. Read this book for something that is more mature in outlook than the usual Hollywood faire that gets the sci-fi label.
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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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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Loved the book, especially as a metaphor for the changes that will happen on this earth soon. Great book:-)
Published 22 days ago by Nicholas Maxheleau
5.0 out of 5 stars Awkward structure, amazing book
This is the first Arthur C. Clarke book I've read and I became an instant fan.

Clarke does an amazing job of building mystery and awe from the very start. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Piata
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read!
In my teens I read this book and loved it then! Decades later I bought the book again and loved it even more! It's classic Clarke at his finest!
Published 9 months ago by John S.
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Tangibly connects the quantum entanglement concept into a logical progression of the human condition. Read more
Published 9 months ago by ANTHONY J RIGBY
4.0 out of 5 stars Aliens here for unique purpose
I love Arthur C Clarke. Not for his characters but for his imagination regarding space, humanity's evolution, and alien planets and species. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Rose
2.0 out of 5 stars AC Clarke vs. PT Barnum....
Like most dystopic novel fans, I, too, became engrossed in the movie presentation of "2001, A Space Odyssey". Read more
Published on July 12 2011 by Ronald W. Maron
5.0 out of 5 stars One Of Clarke's Best
Sir Arthur C. Clarke (1917 - 2008) is one of the masters of the genre of Science Fiction from its golden age. Read more
Published on May 16 2008 by Dave_42
2.0 out of 5 stars Sadly diminished
Although I have enjoyed many of Arthur C. Clarke's books, this is one that made almost no impression upon me. Read more
Published on Aug. 30 2006 by Krypter
5.0 out of 5 stars I continue to be a huge Arthur C Clarke fan!
Along with Asimov and other great science-fiction authors whose works have added themselves to other great works by other sci-fi masters: "Stranger in a Strange Land",... Read more
Published on June 15 2004 by Christopher
5.0 out of 5 stars The Future of the human race
This book is one of the most important books ever written. It's authored by a man whose statement: "The greatest human tragedy was the hijacking of morality by religion. Read more
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