Childhood's End Hardcover – Jun 1963
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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 --This text refers to the 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 --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
** 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 of 5 stars.
Clarke does an amazing job of building mystery and awe from the very start. Who are the visitors? Why won't they show themselves? Why won't they let us explore space? Why are they here? All these answers are given and each one is more interesting than the last.
If there is one flaw, it's that the book jumps around a lot as it details events that happen over generations but the final payoff is worth it. This is the kind of ending that makes you stop and think for days about it's ramifications.
A must read for anyone that even remotely likes sci-fi.
CE is about the dramatic events that take place when humanity is suddenly invaded by "benevolent" aliens who, rather than torture humans, require that they bring peace to their world, feed the hungry, and solve other issues. What results is a civilisation unlike that which we currently know, but also one that has trouble dealing with the absence of individuality and creativity. The question that casts a shadow throughout the novel is: Why invade humans to create this utopia? What is the purpose?
Clarke plays with this question and the response comes in different forms actually, throughout the book. Two issues are particularly well illustrated. The first concerns the purpose of humanity. Is it possible that, although this can never be admitted by any 21st century human, we are present and created for someone or something else, for purposes that go beyond those that we can pursue or even imagine? What if there is a logic to evolution, to the order of things that goes beyond random mutation and natural selection? How could we know?
The second is that utopia, which in an important way is part of most, if not all except nihilist philosophies, does not seem to be ultimately satisfying to humanity.Read more ›
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.
Most recent customer reviews
What an amazing story! I am awed by the fact Mr Clarke wrote it so many years ago. The ending was not even remotely close to what I imagined. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Whizmo
And I still love it. While some of the characters and scenarios are slightly outdated, the underlying themes and concepts are just as compelling and disturbing today as they were... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Heather Cuthill
Had this book on my have-to-read-someday list. The storyline is creative and full of unexpected turns. Quite an accomplishment to have written this in 50'sPublished 9 months ago by John West