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Childhood's End [Paperback]

Arthur C. Clarke
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)

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Book Description

8 Jun 2001
Silent spacecraft take the light from the world, superintelligent aliens rule with wisdom not force, a new era of invention and prosperity brings hope and peace. The twilight of the human race has begun.

Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Tor; New edition edition (8 Jun 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330487698
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330487696
  • Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 11 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,047,755 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Somerset in 1917, Arthur C. Clarke has written over sixty books, among which are the science fiction classics 2001: A Space Odyssey, Childhood's End, The City and the Stars and Rendezvous With Rama. He has won all the most prestigious science fiction trophies, and shared an Oscar nomination with Stanley Kubrick for the screenplay of the film of 2001. He was knighted in 1998. He died in 2008 at his home in Sri Lanka.

Product Description


"'There has been nothing like it for years' C. S. Lewis; 'The Colossus Of Science Fiction' New York Times"

Book Description

Arthur C. Clarke's classic in which he ponders humanity's future and possible evolution. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
A brilliant book in which Clarke explores the theme of man's position within the universe. Unlike a lot of Clarke's work which draws heavily on scientific principles this is not a factually based novel.
A highly fantastic plot sees a race of aliens take control of earth and outlaw all immoral acts, instantly producing world peace, through use of their superior technology. Unlike many SF novels, however, they are here not to conquor the globe but to prepare humanity for the future. Some, of course are not willing to sit back and accept this life of blissful slavery from the moralistic aliens. They are determined to discover the truth behind the alien's plans, why noone has ever seen one an alien and precisely what this future holds. The nature of what is to come in the future may not be very believable but this is one of Clarke's space-fantasy novels not factual science-fiction. The end of the book will make you turn back to the front cover to double check it has Arthur C. Clarke's name on it.
The first few editions of the novel had the words "The views expressed in this book are not those of the author" printed on page 1. In the introduction to the later editions, Clarke explains why he insisted on those lines being included as the novel revolves around the idea that man's place is here on earth not in the stars.
This is a superb, thought provoking novel. While the plot may not be all that credible the themes discussed in this book: man's positition in the universe; whether enforced heaven is acceptable and whether man's place is on earth or in the stars are what makes it one of the best science-fiction novels ever written. It may have been written over thirty years ago but it is still relevant in today's world.
Not necessarily for all Arthur C.
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41 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SUBLIME 7 July 2002
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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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best 8 Mar 2000
By A Customer
For anyone who claims that science fiction is a genre that cannot produce classic literature, they should read Childhood's End. It provides, compact, readible philsophy of the first kind; something you rarely find. Childhood's end confront the value of mere survival for humaniy. A wonderful book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Childhood's End and the real ETs 25 Sep 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Sir Arthur wrote Childhood's End in a simple style that was as easy and enjoyable for me to read at the age of ten as it has been throughout my adult life. The book overflows with exciting and inspiring ideas but they are always expressed clearly and concisely. There is no attempt to impress the reader with techno-babble or fantasy. The action ranges across the Earth from great cities to wilderness areas, from deep underground to underwater, and aboard alien starships that cross interstellar space to a home-world forty light-years distant. The book's ideas, the thoughts and words of its characters (human and alien) and action sequences drive the story forward logically towards a transcendental vision of our future that has been mediated by non-human beings.

The book seems directly relevant today, even though it was written sixty years before we discovered potentially-habitable exoplanets around other stars, and also before it was generally accepted by those who have researched or investigated the subject intensively, that what seem to be non-human beings actually visit or reside on our planet. The thoughts and discussions of the book's human characters about the nature and purpose of the aliens whom they call the Overlords seem uncomfortably prescient as we now struggle to understand the nature, purpose, and activities of the aliens that people have reported they observed or encountered. When the Overlords finally show themselves, their physical appearance seems to anticipate the research that was later carried out into folklore resources by Dr. Jacques Vallée and others.

The book's main protagonist identifies the parent star of the Overlords' home world by taking advantage of a social gathering around a high-tech version of an Ouija board.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Classic Clarke but not his best.
The book didn't age as well as many of his other works and a tad to meta-physical for my liking but still an okay read.
Published 1 month ago by Mojo
5.0 out of 5 stars An Awesome story
I first read this Sci Fi story nearly 50 years ago and it has lost nothing of its awesome thought-provoking grandeur since. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ralph Walker
5.0 out of 5 stars Rivew of Childhood's End
This is the first decent sci-fi book I read and it's a fantastic tale. Considering it was first published in 1954, it remains a first class read today with a most original theme.
Published 2 months ago by JOHN SKILLIN
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book
I found this a very interesting read because it isn't just your average sci-fi novel where the aliens come take over earth, and then humans fight for freedom, no this was much more... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Andrew Ward
4.0 out of 5 stars Unsettling
I really enjoyed the concept, and the set up in the first half of the book. How it developed took me by surprise and went in an unsettling direction. Read more
Published 3 months ago by S. Haffner
4.0 out of 5 stars A Classic
What can I say , this is just simply a classic that demands to be on everyones shelves. The storyline is plausible in Sci-Fi terms and makes you think, Why when and how will the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by R. Packham
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic science fiction
Glad I read it. Didin't know what to expect but enjoyed it. Story built through the narrative leading do an unexpected end.
Published 5 months ago by Bethan Kalynka
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Clarke's best
I'm usually a big fan of Clarke, but I found this one a little underwhelming. There is a recurring theme of the evolution and future of mankind throughout Clarke's work and this is... Read more
Published 8 months ago by GoodOldNorthernLad
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for any scifi fan
Ever had one of those books you cant put down?
Then buy this now.
2001 might be Arthur C Clarke's most famous story, but this is his best story.
Published 8 months ago by Shepard616
5.0 out of 5 stars Among the best works of science-fiction.
Fantastic, imaginative science-fiction. Arthur C. Clarke at his best. Deals with the massive question of Mankind's place in the Universe and blows away the idea that the Earth is... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Ian Ward
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