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Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke
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Childhood's End (1953)

by Arthur C. Clarke

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,597137573 (3.93)221
  1. 50
    Nightfall by Isaac Asimov (weener)
  2. 30
    Lilith's Brood by Octavia E. Butler (Medellia)
  3. 20
    The Sentinel by Arthur C. Clarke (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: Contains the short story upon which Childhood's End is based.
  4. 10
    Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind by Richard Maurice Bucke (bertilak)
  5. 01
    More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon (rickyrickyricky)
    rickyrickyricky: Similar philosophy, stronger writing, & less dated by mid-century sci-fi cliches and ignorance.
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» See also 221 mentions

English (129)  Danish (4)  Spanish (2)  French (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (137)
Showing 1-5 of 129 (next | show all)
It has been several decades since I last read this book. I started reading it with some trepidation -- would it hold up to my memories? How dated would it be?

The answer is that the technological trappings are indeed dated, but they are not the heart of the story. That has to do with what mankind is, how we as a species will grow and change, and what makes us human. While the author now disagrees with his conclusions (as stated in his foreword), it is still an interesting exploration of those themes.

The hard part for me is deciding how I feel about the novel. It is well-told and well-written. It made me think. Like the author, I don't think I like the ending at all now; in my youth I thought it marvelous, though. It is a classic as no one really explored the topic as well as Clarke did back then.

If you like classic, thought-provoking science fiction, then I think you should read this book. I cannot predict who will like it. ( )
  Jean_Sexton | May 13, 2016 |
I found this 1953 sci fi classic to be well-written and thought-provoking but I didn't like the ending. Clarke in the foreword hinted that he himself didn't like the ending anymore (~50 years after it was first written) when he mentions that after working with Yorkshire Television on a show about paranormal abilities, he discovered that the paranormal was almost all fraudulent and no longer believed in it. ( )
  leslie.98 | Apr 13, 2016 |
Even though this book was published in 1953, it holds up very well 60 years later. Of course, not perfectly but much better than some other sci-fi novels written at the time. Perhaps that is because Clarke, unlike contemporaries such as Isaac Asimov, doesn't spend as much time explaining the technologies, instead the they function only as tools. Themes of societal control, acceptance, utopia, and the quest for and limits of human knowledge. A "hard" sci-fi classic! ( )
  Kyle_Winward | Apr 8, 2016 |
A painful read if you’re a woman.
I think this book deserves five stars for science fiction, zero for its misogynist and male chauvinistic undertone. Thus the two stars.
The author’s impressive imagining of a future step in humankind’s evolution is marred by his myopic view of woman’s involvement in said future.
In this future world without war or disease, women are still second class citizens subjected to male rule, and the family structure remains the male utopia recreated in the 1950’s American sitcoms.
The only roles women have in this story that covers over a century into the future are those of girlfriends, wives, mistresses or mothers.
The girlfriends are childlike and unable of independent thinking or smart conversation, wives are dedicated, loving and long suffering. They cook, keep house and, kid you not, knit sweaters to keep warm their much smarter and important husbands. As for the mistresses, they are a necessity as men are biologically compelled to have multiple partners. Which mean they are following a genetic mandate and are not to be blamed.
Although I appreciated the brilliant scope of the author’s vision for humanity, his misogyny made for a gag inducing and painful read. ( )
  CarmenFerreiro | Mar 28, 2016 |
I have always been a huge fan of Arthur C Clarke’s novels, and this, which was his first major commercial and critical success, was apparently his own favourite. Published in 1954, as the Cold War was gathering in intensity, the novel starts with the Americans and Russians in the midst of a space race (prefiguring the bitter competition that would flourish during the latter half of that decade and then throughout the 1960s). This is, however, rendered redundant by the arrival of a fleet of huge spaceships marking the arrival of an alien race, immensely more powerful and technologically accomplished than mankind.

The aliens, known informally as The Overlords, assume power over the Earth almost immediately, with the human population realising that resistance would be pointless. They are benign, and under their suzerainty the world embarks upon an extended period of peace, accompanied by a surge of technological advancement and economic growth. The world’s woes are largely vanquished and the population can concentrate on a life led by leisure. Not everyone is happy – some feel that their cosseted existence is robbing mankind of its initiative and ability to progress.

Clarke’s description of the Utopian lifestyle afforded the world under the benevolent guidance of The Overlords is beguiling and demonstrates his awesome prescience. In a throwaway remark he predicts the introduction of a readily accessible, reliable oral contraceptive and something remarkably similar to DNA fingerprinting, decades before either would become a reality.

Clarke is a great science fiction writer because, in addition to being an accomplished scientist, he had that happy knack, so rare among other performers in the genre, of being a genuinely good writer. He understands the intricacies of plotting and development of plausible, sympathetic characters. In Childhood’s End plausible characters abound, ranging from gushing socialite Rupert Boyce, independent and dangerously inquisitive astrophysicist Jan Rodricks, and the domesticated Gregsons, George and Jean and their two children. Clarke’s compelling verisimilitude over the everyday makes the fantastic seem utterly credible. More than sixty years since its publication, and nearly forty since I first read it, the book remains just as gripping, enjoyable and rewarding. ( )
2 vote Eyejaybee | Mar 24, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 129 (next | show all)
I'm not sure Childhood's End is the first book my dad gave me, but it was one of the first, and it's certainly the one I remember most vividly. And it's probably a book that changed my life.
added by RBeffa | editDaily Kos, DOM9000 (Jul 8, 2011)
 

» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Arthur C. Clarkeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bacon, C.W.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bing, JonForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bringsværd, Tor ÅgeForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Csernus, TiborCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Deutsch, MichelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ellis, DeanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fernandes, StanislawCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Haars, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kempen, BernhardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Powers, Richard M.Cover Artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sawyer, Robert J.Narratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schjelderup, DaisyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevenson, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Summerer, Eric MichaelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The opinions expressed in this book are not those of the author.
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The volcano that had reared Taratua up from the Pacific depths had been sleeping now for half a million years. (Original)
Before she flew to the launch site, Helena Lyakhov always went through the same ritual.  (1989 Updated Version)
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This was the moment when history held its breath, and the present sheared asunder from the past as an iceberg splits from its parent cliffs, and goes sailing out to sea in lonely pride. All that the past ages had achieved was as nothing now; only one thought echoed and re-echoed through Mohan's brain: The human race was no longer alone.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345347951, Mass Market Paperback)

Without warning, giant silver ships from deep space appear in the skies above every major city on Earth. Manned by the Overlords, in fifty years, they eliminate ignorance, disease, and poverty. Then this golden age ends--and then the age of Mankind begins....

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:34 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

The author questions the survival of mankind in this science fiction tale about Overlords from outer space who dominate the world.

» see all 8 descriptions

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