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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Greatest Classics
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...
Published on March 19 2008 by Zadius Sky

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3.0 out of 5 stars Childhood's OK
I must admit to being slightly disappointed with CHILDHOOD'S END. It's not a bad book by any means; Clarke's imagination is at the forefront. The storyline is full of surprises, and while the characterizations are fairly shallow, that didn't adversely affect the overall book for me. Still, I couldn't help but feel that it wasn't quite as good as its hype would have one...
Published on April 30 2003 by Andrew McCaffrey


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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
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars SUBLIME, May 22 2004
By 
DAVID BRYSON (Glossop Derbyshire England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars interesting book, March 17 2004
By 
David N. Reiss (Haymarket, VA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Profound statement on humanity's role in the Universe, Dec 30 2003
By 
Patrick L. Randall (Silver Spring, MD) - See all my reviews
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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 A Clarke masterpiece!, Oct. 29 2003
By 
Photoscribe "semi-renaissance man" (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA) - See all my reviews
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!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, Fantastic, and just plain Great!, Oct. 18 2003
By 
Atomicwasteland (Rockville, MD USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Childhood's End (Mass Market Paperback)
I loved this book. Personally, it is my favorite Arthur C. Clarke Novel.
Whatever you do, though, don't read too many reviews that describe the plot, as your enjoyment of this book will suffer if you get too many hints about what is going on. The real joy is exploring how things unfold, and how the storyline progresses -it is basically about Mankind's reaction to Aliens coming to earth. (And that's ALL I have to say about the plot!)
It is just one of those cool books where more and more things unfold, and things start to get eerie and interesting, and at the very end the book comes to a fantastic close with a "punchline" that throws everything into a new light (kind of like in movies like "The Usual Suspects" or "The Crying Game".)
If you loved any of Clarke's other books like Rendezvous with Rama, 2001, the City and the Stars, and The Light of Other Days, then this book is definitely something you want to give a read. And if you've read this book and are looking for others, then the ones I just mentioned are also reflective of his best work.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic in the Sci-Fi Genre, Aug. 16 2003
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This review is from: Childhood's End (Mass Market Paperback)
Arthur C. Clarke is the master on the science fiction genre, and Childhood's end is one of his greatest works. The book begins with humanity near the possiblity of nuclear destruction, and just beginning to look to the stars for their future. However, the hope for conquest of the stars is shattered when a fleet of alien ships suddenly appears over every major city on the planet. The aliens are far more technologically advanced than man, and their intellect is unmatched. Instead of having the aliens take over the planet and enslave humanity, however, Clarke has the aliens(dubbed the "overlords" by the citizens) request only a few things- abolish war, poverty, segregation, and cruelty to animals, and set up a global nation. With these obstacles removed, humanity enters a golden age, and earth is a utopian society; yet the Overlord's still keep their true reason for visiting earth secret.
Childhood's end is engrossing, read it in one sitting. The ideas that Clarke puts forward are classic, the characters, such as the enigmatic Overlords, are original and captivating. With the overlords, Clarke has set up an alien race unlike any other in science fiction. Earth doesn't know the intentions of the Overlords, and neither does the reader, making the Overlords mysterious and magnificient at the same time. The Overlords are a key part on the book, and one of the reasons that make it a classic. The ideas Clarke has in the book(despite the caption in the front that reads" the opinions expressed in this book are not those of the author") make you think in a different way, and put a new spin on the history and future of humanity. The ending, which I won't spoil, is both great and sad at once, very bittersweet.
Childhood's end is a classic, and the ideas that Clarke had about the future are far-reaching, and some of the aspects of his future earth can be seen in our modern culture. The only problem with the book is its slightly dated beginning, however the rest of the novel more than makes up for it. Childhood's End has influenced everything from sci-fi movies like "Independence Day" to computer games, and even a Pink Floyd song. I highly recommend it to any fan of the sci-fi genre, and to anyone looking for a new perspective on humanity.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Old Myths rewritten as a Sci-Fi, May 22 2003
This review is from: Childhood's End (Mass Market Paperback)
I think most people have missed the point of this great work.
In this book, Clarke re-tells the old Christian-Islamic creation myth from a mystic point of view in a Science-Fiction novell!
According to this myth, man has a divine gift in him that allows him to finally join in with God , where as the Devil, though the archangel, made of fire instead of clay, can never reach this phase. Though by God's plan it serves His great purpose of making that final union of Man and God possible.
Clarke takes this , wraps it up in a Scientific world-view, even explains the origin of the above myth in its plot's context, in the mean time makes fun of all the prosaic results of the very same myth, and finally portrays the union in perhaps the most fascinating way ever told!
If this is not masterpiece , I don't know what is!
He also gives us a hint at the very first page where he writes :"the opinions expressed in this book are not that of the author".
Ofcourse they're not!
Clarke is a scientifically minded atheist, who uses the very core of modern religions to write a science fiction master piece!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Childhood's OK, April 30 2003
By 
Andrew McCaffrey (Satellite of Love, Maryland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Childhood's End (Mass Market Paperback)
I must admit to being slightly disappointed with CHILDHOOD'S END. It's not a bad book by any means; Clarke's imagination is at the forefront. The storyline is full of surprises, and while the characterizations are fairly shallow, that didn't adversely affect the overall book for me. Still, I couldn't help but feel that it wasn't quite as good as its hype would have one believe. It's a decent and engrossing novel, but I just didn't find it to be anything special.
There were parts of CHILDHOOD'S END that I just found to be too unbelievable. Now, I'm not talking about unrealistic science or an inability on my part to acknowledge the existence of aliens; I read quite a lot of science fiction, and these sorts of things I am more than willing to accept in fiction. No, to demonstrate what I found strange, I'll go through the back-cover blurb. It begins: "The Overlords appeared suddenly over every city - intellectually, technologically, and militarily superior to humankind." So far, so good. It continues: "Benevolent, they made few demands: unify earth, eliminate poverty, and end war." Again, nothing too shocking. Friendly aliens aren't going to make me throw down the book in disbelief. But the following bit I found to be a bit much: "With little rebellion, mankind agreed, and a golden age began." Now personally I just can't see that happening as peacefully and simply as Clarke posits. And the book doesn't give us much more background that that short sentence. Clarke just skips right over parts like this that would be difficult to swallow.
I think part of my difficulty accepting large chunks of the exposition was the way in which Clarke chooses to deliver his narrative. The book skips and jumps through the decades, but also tries to keep itself grounded by introducing us to a variety of easily-exchangeable characters. Clarke is trying to do two things at once here, and in a book that's a slim 212 pages, he simply doesn't give himself enough room to do justice to both. He wants to give us a grand sweeping vision of the future, where the stories of individuals are washed away in the march of time. But then he'll suddenly jump back and relate a chapter or two focusing on a handful of characters. Then it'll be back to the grand historical approach, leaving those individuals far behind. I think that Clarke could have pulled off this approach if he had an extra hundred pages to play around with. Unfortunately, he didn't, and the book ends up being at times neither one thing nor the other.
It sounds as if I'm being a bit too hard on this book, and I've devoted more time that I meant to on highlighting the negative points. But I did find a lot to enjoy here. Clarke writes a plot that I simply couldn't anticipate; many of the surprises caught me off-guard. Clarke is thinking big here. He's looking at mankind's place in a large universe and comparing our progress to what limitless potential there is out there. I really appreciated the scope of his vision.
It just seemed to me as if Clarke was trying to cram too much into the short amount of pages allotted. It forces him to keep rushing forward, not giving himself time to dwell on some of the ideas that he confronts us with. It also forces him to provide exposition by dumping huge blocks of narration at us, or simply by having characters give long speeches at each other. CHILDHOOD'S END is full of thought-provoking ideas, and I'd classify it as a good science-fiction novel, but I cannot honestly say that I found it a great one.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Childhood's End, Feb. 23 2003
By 
Robert Holm (at home behind my keyboard) - See all my reviews
This book was originally written in 1953. It was reissued in 1990 with a foreword and an "updated" first chapter, bringing the beginning of the story into the 21st century. That was a strange decision of Clarke's, since the world as it is described in the early chapters of the book (and aside from the first chapter, the rest of the book is entirely unchanged) is very clearly not the world of the 21st century. In other words, the book is dated, but this is something you notice less and less as the story progresses.
Childhood's End tells the story of the alien "Overlords," who come to Earth in their huge spaceships. On Earth they quickly establish a Golden Age of peace and prosperity, with no more wars, famine or poverty. The World State is finally established, and the Earth becomes a paradise. But, as in all paradises, all it not so well after all, and something sinister is lurking behind the perfect facade. What are the true motives of the Overlords? What is their real agenda, and what are their real plans for mankind?
For a long time the Overlords remain on their ships, refusing to reveal what they look like to the humans. They communicate their wishes, and enforce their benevolent rule, through the use of their vastly superior technology. It is the first part of the book which is the best, with the tension building until, finally, the first secret is revealed, and the Overlords show themselves. After this, the book starts spiraling down into an abyss. The future of mankind turns out to be bleak and nightmarish beyond anyone's wildest dreams, and this is truly one of the saddest and most disturbing stories I have ever read. The absolute pointlessness of human existence is brought home forcefully.
The book is very short, and at first I had the feeling it could have been developed into a full-length novel (the way the book ended, though, I must say I'm glad it is as short as it is). There is, for example, almost nothing said of the first five years after the arrival of the Overlords. Clarke's brief description of the initial reactions on Earth to the changes brought by the Overlords is, although I hesitate to use the word, almost naive. Personally, I think there would have been chaos, panic, hysteria, conflict, protests, and resistance without cease, but as Clarke describes it, everyone just gave up and accepted the situation peacefully and rationally after some, none too impressive, displays of the power of the Overlords. Especially religious fanatics would never have accepted the rule of the Overlords, and although Clarke does touch on this subject, he does it in a way that does not convince.
This is a book to read only once, and never return to. It is a classic, and essential reading for all fans of Clarke and science-fiction, but it is not a pleasant read.
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Childhood's End
Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke (Mass Market Paperback - May 12 1987)
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