Childhood's End
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Childhood's End

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  57,095 ratings  ·  1,865 reviews
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....
Paperback, 224 pages
Published May 12th 1987 by Del Rey (first published 1953)
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I've done a lot of odd jobs over the years. At one point, back before I got my degree and I was still working to put my wife through school, I worked as a delivery driver for a company that sold construction supplies - 50 lb boxes of powdered Kool-Aid, portable generators, hammers, safety harnesses, 2x4's, circular saws. It was one of those barely above minimum wage jobs generally populated by people who for whatever reason find themselves unable to get anything else and competing against a larg...more
mark monday
you think you're so fucken smart, don't you mark? ha, think again. all your little plans and goals, your little community of friends and family and colleagues, your whole little life... what does it matter in the long run? not a whole fucken lot. grow up.

take this book for example. a classic of the genre, written by a classic author. you thought you knew what you were getting into; you've read countless examples of the type. you sure are a well-read little scifi nerd, aren't you? for the first h...more
Petra X
I read this long ago, just when I was becoming a teenager and my tastes were changing, you might say I read it at childhood's end.

"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 1 Corinthians 13:11. But we cannot do this without the help of our parents and teachers (view spoiler). And so it is the Aliens come.

The story is ess...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Childhood's End has been sitting on my bookcase for quite a while. I made a promise to my friend Jason: we traded recommendations for our favorites; he fulfilled his end of the bargain by reading my favorite scifi novel (Dune), so I read his.

In recent times, I've shied away from scifi novels published 50+ years ago as I've been sucked into a good sounding stories only to be disappointed. I don't doubt that these novels were fantastic at the time they were written. It's hard to stand up to time i...more
David Sheppard
{Warning: lots of spoilers.}

I read Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End many years ago. I also read it to my son when he was eight. So why did I come back to a book that was originally published in 1953, read it yet again, and feel it necessary to write a review?

What got me thinking about Childhood’s End again is the emergence of the Internet as force for change within the Global Community. Also, my limited experience teaching university students impressed upon me the impact that the Internet is h...more
Oddly, I finally got spurred into reading this great book while watching a documentary on UFOs, featuring Dan Aykroyd! Aykroyd is evidently quite a UFO buff, and during the documentary the discussion (What do UFOs want?) touched upon Clarke's book, Childhood's End. Well, I’m into UFOs. Saw one (at close range) when I was 13 or so. So I went and dug this puppy out of my large “To Read” box downstairs. (My wife says there’s more than one box.)

I’m glad I did, though the book is one of the most prof...more
5.0 Stars. One of Arthur C. Clarke's best novels and one of my personal favorites. This novel is one of the best ever written concerning the evolution of man into a higher order of being. Brilliantly conceived and poignantly executed, this is classic SF at its best.

Nominee: Retro Hugo Award for best SF Novel of 1953.
Dec 23, 2011 Terence rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Clarke fans (of course), big-idea SF fans
Shelves: sf-fantasy
When I was in 8th grade, I wrote a story about humans evolving and becoming “luminous beings” (similar, I suppose, to those Yoda mentions in The Empire Strikes Back), and I was reminded of this when I read the ending to Childhood’s End. Humanity’s last generation joins a vast collective intelligence that has been assimilating civilizations for countless eons, and in the process consumes the Earth and all other life on it. (As I recall, my process wasn’t quite so genocidal; in fact, it took place...more
Kurt Vonnegut said of Arthur C. Clarke’s novel Childhood’s End that it is one of the few masterpieces in the science fiction genre. Vonnegut went on to say that he, Vonnegut, had written all the others.

As humorous as that is, at least the first clause of that declaration I feel to be true. Written simply but with conviction and persuasion, with an almost fable-like narrative quality, Clarke has given to us that rarest of literary achievements: a science fiction masterpiece.

The genius of Clarke...more
I was expecting this book to bore me to tears. Since the book is a classic, I had to give it a try. Clarke's sophisticated, yet easy to read prose had me riveted! While lacking to some degree in human character development, the plot, descriptions and depth of the story more than compensated. I wish Clarke had expanded on the details about how crime, poverty, class consciousness, religion and menial labor were eradicated.

The book left me feeling moved, vaguely sad, yet hopeful about the future o...more
I always feel so terrible when I read, or attempt to read, Arthur C. Clarke. But I also feel terrible when I don't. I like fantasy. I like science fiction. Arthur C. Clark is a genius, a pioneering, farsighted sci-fi icon. I should like reading his books. And so I try every once in a while, in the same spirit that I eat half a banana once or twice a year. I like fruit. Bananas are good for you. But I have yet to finish either a banana or an Arthur C. Clarke book.

It's me. It must be. So I'm givin...more
I am a fan of science fiction, and I wanted to read Childhood's End after hearing it is supposedly one of the best novels in the sci-fi genre. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I just didn't enjoy it.

I won't belabor this review by posting a synopsis; I'll just summarize my general impression of the book (SPOILERS ahead).

First off, the characterization is extremely weak. I understand that some science fiction is more plot driven than character driven, but I still think it is important to w...more
I've always felt a bit mixed about Childhood's End . While at times the writing felt bogged down and a little sluggish, the ideas and concepts Clarke comes up with are astounding and thought provoking. This is a story not just about man's first contact with an alien species and creating a utopia, but also about man's eventual evolution and transformation, by breaking off the shackles of its previous existence.
Clarke has always been intrigued by the idea of transcending ones body and achieving...more
There's something very comforting in the SF novels of Arthur C. Clarke, my favorite of the Big Three SF writers of the Golden Age (the other two being Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov). His stories are clearly-written, unembellished, precise, and focus on the science, ideas, and plot. Though some claim his characters are fairly wooden, I don’t see it that way. They tend to be fairly level-headed and logical, and focus on handling the situations on hand in an intelligent manner. In Clarke's world...more
Seak (Bryce L.)
Review here

Old review:

Over at Of Blog of the Fallen (, Larry issued a challenge to read a book written before 1960 and give a review. I thought this was a great idea and began to scour my shelf for some older stuff, but kept finding books from the ‘70s and almost gave up until I found Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke.

Like the only other Clarke novel I’ve read, Rendezvous with Rama, even though Childhood’s End was written decades ago (and in this case over half a century),...more
Ben Babcock
There's a reason certain science fiction authors are a Big Deal. Even if one doesn't like them, even if one hates their books or thinks they're mediocre writers, there's a reason society has accorded an author "classic" status over the decades. It has nothing to do with the ability to write or even the ability to create a coherent story. It's all about ideas.

I'm going to be honest here: Arthur C. Clarke the writer doesn't impress me much. Written while he was still impressionable about such thin...more
Raeden Zen
Old School, Plot-Driven, Philosophical Speculative Fiction

“He glanced from land to sea and back again: it was some little time before he thought of looking at the sky…The huge and silent shadows driving across the stars, more miles above his head than he dared to guess, were as far beyond his little “Columbus” as it surpassed the log canoes of Paleolithic man. For a moment that seemed to last forever, Reinhold watched, as all the world was watching, while the great ships descended in their overw...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Arun Divakar
The most frightening of all prospects would be a disruption of our daily routines, no matter how mundane they may be. The appearance of a stranger in your life, an entity we cannot comprehend tearing its way into the fabric of your world or a natural disaster that throws all man made things to the wind have all thus become material for the genre of horror. Oft repeated and many a time thinly veiled is a common thread in horror and sci fi genres : an alien race appearing like a bolt from the blue...more
Jun 01, 2007 Illyria rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: sf, 2007
Childhood's End is signature Arthur Clarke in that it blends hard science and wild fantasy and elements of metaphysics and mysticism; if you've read Clarke's "The Nine Billion Names of God" you get the picture.

The story begins with the arrival of an alien race with superhuman powers, whose subtle and not-so-subtle interference in the lives of Men changes the course of human history. Take for instance their first demand: an end to all cruelty to animals. This is enforced by causing all spectators...more
Clarke does Big Idea science fiction. What that means, in a nutshell, is that the entire book is worked around a science fiction idea, big in scope. It also means that character and plot get the short end of the stick, as everything revolves around fully exploring whatever is the big idea of the book. That's exactly what happens here, with Childhood's End. None of the characters make an impression, because they aren't really meant to. It's all about the concept. In this case, Earth is now being...more
Apr 01, 2008 Stacey rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: any sci-fi fan, it's a classic!
Recommended to Stacey by: Sci-fi and fantasy group
Shelves: imo
Shockingly, for a hardcore sci-fi fan, the only Clarke I've read is "Hammer of God" about 10 years ago. So this was like my first (re)introduction to Clarke's fiction. The story was interesting, but I felt it could have been fleshed out a lot. Most of the characters are little more than passing figures, including the mysterious Overlords. I found that I didn't really care too much about their eventuality.

What I loved about the novel were certain, almost incidental concepts that have found their...more
Megan Baxter
From my vast expertise of having read all of two, count them, two, Arthur C. Clarke books, I am seeing a common theme. I don't know if it extends beyond that to his other books, but here it is: The universe is a very, very big place. And humans might just be irrelevant to it. What is going on out there is so vast that it's an immense piece of egotism to think of ourselves as central, or even incidental, to it.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodread...more
Part 1: the libertarian's worst nightmare, where beings from the stars show up and take away our freedoms - but otherwise produce Utopia.

Part 2: Utopia turns out to be really dull for everyone.

Part 3: the cataclysmic payoff.

CE is a prime example of the kind of SF novel you don't read for the characterization. It's minimal. Other Goodreaders have lamented Clarke's inability to write female characters, and I can't disagree with them. It's all about the ideas, putting them on the table, sitting and...more
I picked this one up at LAX on the recommendation of my brilliant fiancée and I'm happy I did. A short but powerful novel about a future that befell the Earth. Before man had a chance to land on the Moon Earth was surrounded by a fleet of alien craft. Their ultimate purpose was unknown but they quickly turned the world to peace.

Arthur C. Clarke was well ahead of his time with a lot of his predictions. Time will tell what else comes true. I think it was a little too quick though, I would have li...more
His name was C. and he was the main reason I took Science Fiction Film my sophomore year of college. I liked film and I liked science fiction well enough, but hadn't seriously considered taking a film class, let alone a Science Fiction Film class. I walked into it expecting to be surrounded by a bunch of stereotypical male nerds and to my pleasant surprise, I was.

I was late to the first screening, which was conveniently held in a room meant for showing films-- each row of seats was further back...more
Sean DeLauder
As one with high aspirations for the human race, in spite of its frequently embarrassing stumbles (wars, politics, persistent absence of flying cars, etc.), the premise and final revelation of this tale saddened me somewhat. The Overlords come to Earth, halting millennia of strife and suffering amongst humanity, yet at a price--essentially the end of extraterrestrial human exploration. People become peaceful, happy, and largely sedentary (two of these three points I find, understanding the often...more
In honor of the late, great Arthur C. Clarke, I picked up one of his books I'd never read: Childhood's End. The book recounts the story of an alien civilization that comes to Earth and rules over it for 150 years, before mankind's true destiny is revealed.

I won't get into the overall story of the book itself - it's a quick read and certainly worth picking up. One of the most interesting things to me about the book was that Clarke wrote it in 1953, but it's set between about 1970 and 2120. It's f...more
Nancy Lewis
I've tried so many times to like classic science fiction, but can't get past the dated writing style. It reads as if Dick Van Dyke is traveling through space, while Mary Tyler Moore is at home fixing his dinner.

Even so, it's interesting to read Clarke's predictions of the future - the one hundred year period between 1975 & 2075. We are well into that time period now. Some of the predictions from this book have come true, some were grossly mistaken, & some have yet to be determined.

I re...more
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Arthur C. Clarke was one of the most important and influential figures in 20th century science fiction. He spent the first half of his life in England, where he served in World War Two as a radar operator, before emigrating to Ceylon in 1956. He is best known for the novel and movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, which he co-created with the assistance of Stanley Kubrick.

Clarke was a graduate of King's Co...more
More about Arthur C. Clarke...
2001: A Space Odyssey (Space Odyssey, #1) Rendezvous with Rama (Rama, #1) 2010: Odyssey Two (Space Odyssey, #2) The Fountains of Paradise The City and the Stars

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“Science is the only religion of mankind.” 53 likes
“There were some things that only time could cure. Evil men could be destroyed, but nothing could be done with good men who were deluded.” 27 likes
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