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Childhood's End Childhood's End School & Library Binding – Oct 1999

4.4 out of 5 stars 220 customer reviews

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School & Library Binding, Oct 1999
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The Great Writing Series The Great Writing Series

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Product Details

  • School & Library Binding: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Turtleback Books: A Division of Sanval (October 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881032646
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881032642
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 10.7 x 2.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 163 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 220 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,336,641 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“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

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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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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: 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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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I came to Childhood's end in a rather strange way. I am running through the last volume of CS Lewis' letters and in it, he describes to a few correspondants his appreciation for the book. Lewis also had an ongoing correspondance with Clarke and had expressed to Clarke how he felt that CE made perfect use of the science fiction literary genre. For me, CE was one of only a few incursions into this genre and frankly, it was interesting.

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.
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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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