5.0 out of 5 stars Profound statement on humanity's role in the Universe
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,...
Published on Dec 30 2003 by Patrick L. Randall
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as his other famous books
I'm a big fan of sci-fi and deem Clarke as the best author of the category. But after reading great novels such as Rendezvous with Rama, 2001, 2010 and Fountains of Paradise and also having read good reviews about Childhood's End, I was expecting more of it. This book does not follow the good old Clarke's hard sci-fi. The story begins with an alien invasion pretty much...
Published on May 10 2003 by Fernando
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4.0 out of 5 stars Aliens here for unique purpose,
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This review is from: Childhood's End (Arthur C. Clarke Collection) (Kindle Edition)I love Arthur C Clarke. Not for his characters but for his imagination regarding space, humanity's evolution, and alien planets and species. I don't necessarily love all of his books, but I know where he is coming from and I applaud the efforts he took to put his speculations into words in the form of stories. I love his use of the laws of the universe and quantum mechanics to create a plausible story.
** Spoiler Alert ** I don't know whether to be happy or sad about the ending of this one. Humanity moves on to a new stage in our evolution (good) but it is not the glorious transition you might imagine it to be (bad) and in the end they destroy the planet and everything on it in the process (very bad) to become one with the "Overmind" - a collective of minds from throughout the universe who had shed their physical selves long ago. This book ended reminding me very much of Olaf Stapledon's Starmaker
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound statement on humanity's role in the Universe,
This review is from: Childhood's End (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. Is this designed to make Earth pliable for invasion, or is there a greater, more benevolent purpose behind these actions by the Overlords?
"Childhood's End" is an appropriate title as it references the end of humanity's childhood. The Overlords are on a quest to condition the people of Earth for it's new role in the order of the Universe. Current humanity will not be able to handle what is asked of them, but through the generations they can be evolved to be prepared to take their next step. "Childhood's End", in the space of a mere 224 pages tells the stories of the different steps of this evolution in an episodic manner that is rich in detail and profound in meaning. Clarke is fascinated by the potentials of human destiny. Sometimes, as with "Light of Other Days", he is not as successful in realizing that destiny as he is in other stories. "Childhood's End", though, extraordinarily realizes what humanity can become and its importance to strive towards that. "Childhood's End" is as relevant and compelling and novel in 2003 as it was in 1953.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Greatest Classics,
This review is from: Childhood's End (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.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Study of Humanity,
This review is from: Childhood's End (Mass Market Paperback)No one person is the main character of this book. The main character is the Human race. Childhood's end challenges the typical views of humans and forces you to think thoughts that have never occured to you.
How would humanity act while facing a global crisis?
What if Earth's existance owed a "superior" civilization for even living?
What if Mankind could achieve what no other race could?
When will the time of humans come to an end?
These deep philisophical questions are what Childhood's End is all about. Highly recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars SUBLIME,
This review is from: Childhood's End (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.
5.0 out of 5 stars The best,
By A Customer
This review is from: Childhood's End (Mass Market Paperback)This is an absolutly wonderful book dealing with the asscention of the human race into "the ultimate being" their most perfect existance. It covers politcal and emotional subjects that some people may not agree with but I believe the point of this book is not to fall in love with the charecters but to reflect on your own actions. It is an eye opening book and vey well written in classic sci-fi form.
5.0 out of 5 stars interesting book,
This review is from: Childhood's End (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.
5.0 out of 5 stars Not to be missed SF classic,
This review is from: Childhood's End (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.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Clarke masterpiece!,
This review is from: Childhood's End (Mass Market Paperback)Somewhere in the mid 70s, I finally read Clarke's "Childhood's End", a book recommended to me by the clerk/manager of a local science fiction/fantasy book store. I was pretty much a lifelong fan of Clarke's due to "2001: A Space Odyssey" anyway, but this novel cemented that.
This book's plot will remind an awful lot of people of "The Village/Children Of The Damned" movies, derived from the novel "The Midwich Cuckoos", another sci fi classic published a bit later. The children here are also bred for excellence in everything, specifically mental acuity, by mysterious, supposedly benificent aliens, a major subplot shared by both books. This story follows the fortunes of mankind in general, and the hand-picked and germinated children specifically, as the entire world lives under the benign rule and nurture of the aliens. The world essentially turns into a Utopia that nonetheless has a few skeptics fomenting rebellion amongst normal humans.
Clarke has given so many classic concepts to the world of sci-fi, he puts both Asimov and Roddenberry to shame. Science fiction just might still have been mired in Jules Verne and 50s monster flicks if it wasn't for him. This is probably his first major conceptual contribution to the field.
As a Clarke fan, I highly recommend this book, a classic for all time, and I am patiently waiting for the day when this book is finally made into a faithful movie adaptation! (Something Columbia-Tristar promised a few years back, as a matter of fact, with nothing even being rumored to be in production so far!)
My God, it's full of stars!!
5.0 out of 5 stars Innocent look at a First Encounter,
This review is from: Childhood's End (Paperback)Clarke has returned to the "First Encounter" theme several times and from several points of view. They all have one thing in common though - the workings of the alien races are at first utterly mysterious, a puzzle for humans to solve. But slowly, over time, we learn the true purpose (always something other than what is generally conceived).
At least he does not fall into the trap of an INDEPENDENCE DAY or any of the numerous copies in which Zoogoo from the planet Glowboh tells us mean Earthlings to stop our atomic testing or we will be destroyed. Perhaps Clarke is trying to say that the difference in cultural perspectives are so great as to make it difficult to understand the workings of such higher beings.
This is a rather innocent book that has retained its charm. Of course, the weak points are character development, the strong points being the plot line itself and the ultimate realization of our destiny.
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Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke (Mass Market Paperback - May 12 1987)
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