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Previous BotM--DISCUSSIONS > Childhood's End-- Finished Reading!

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message 1: by Nick (new)

Nick (doily) | 965 comments Here's a general topic for people who have finished reading Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke.

WARNING: SPOILERS LIKELY!


message 2: by Jim (new)

Jim Mcclanahan (clovis-man) | 479 comments I read this many years ago. I've always felt that it was the fuller version of the basic concept introduced in "The Sentinel". Therefore, the parallels with 2001 A Space Odyssey seem pretty obvious.


message 3: by Nick (new)

Nick (doily) | 965 comments Jim wrote: "I read this many years ago. I've always felt that it was the fuller version of the basic concept introduced in "The Sentinel". Therefore, the parallels with 2001 A Space Odyssey seem p..."

Same here. I was a teenager when I read it, and I saw the link to "2001" also. It's one of those books that led me to like sci-fi in the first place.


message 4: by Shel, Moderator (new)

Shel (shel99) | 2074 comments Mod
I just finished this, and wavered between giving it 3 and 4 stars. I ultimately went with 3, because I felt that the characters weren't as fully developed as I wanted them to be - I tend to prefer more character-driven stories. I almost felt that by the end of the book I knew more about Karellen's character than the various human characters that the book danced between.

That said, I was surprised how relevant this book felt to modern society, given that it was written decades ago. Yes, some specifics of the technology were dated, and certainly some of the social attitudes, but otherwise some of Clarke's predictions about the future were uncannily spot-on.


message 5: by Kathi, Moderator & Book Lover (new)

Kathi | 3030 comments Mod
Shel wrote: "I was surprised how relevant this book felt to modern society, given that it was written decades ago. Yes, some specifics of the technology were dated, and certainly some of the social attitudes, but otherwise some of Clarke's predictions about the future were uncannily spot-on. "

Exactly. The story itself, while aspects were dated, felt timeless to me. And it did also remind me of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

It was hard to get involved with the characters because of the time jumps in the book, and yet I felt like they were developed enough to both move the story forward and make me care.

Somewhat sad to think we would need Overlords to build and maintain a more fair and just society. And it was so striking to me that removing hunger and deprivation makes such a difference--this utopia was not a world of the 1% and the 99%. This was a world of equals, doomed, not because of the structure of the society but because of outside forces (the Overmind).


message 6: by Mawgojzeta (new)

Mawgojzeta | 178 comments I am curious, for those who have read the short story version of this, which did you prefer?

I have found, over the years, that I flip flop between the my answer.


message 7: by Shel, Moderator (new)

Shel (shel99) | 2074 comments Mod
I didn't even know there was a short story version! Where was it published?


message 8: by Mawgojzeta (new)

Mawgojzeta | 178 comments Shel wrote: "I didn't even know there was a short story version! Where was it published?"

It is called "Guardian Angel". I do not recall when it was published, but do know it was before "Childhood's End." I want to say, off the top of my head, that I read it in his short story collection, "The Sentinel." I could be wrong, though.


message 9: by Shel, Moderator (new)

Shel (shel99) | 2074 comments Mod
Interesting. I will have to look for it.


message 10: by Rob (new)

Rob | 15 comments This was my first introduction to Arthur C. Clarke and, well, it was ok... It felt more like an outline rather than a fully developed story (which may be based on modern day expectations vs the norm for the time this was written). The humans seemed pretty much interchangeable but Karellen was intriguing and I would have liked to have learned more about him.

IMO, the most interesting idea was that the overlords were demons/devils from Christian mythology - I wish Clarke had explored that idea further - why was that race associated with the Devil in the Bible? There were a few references to something that must have happened in the past but I would have been interested in reading the specifics.

A few questions for things I was unclear on (apologies for non-specific names, I've already returned the book):

When one of the humans shines his flashlight to see Karellen he mentions that he left the room but not soon enough. I re-read that half page a few times but could never figure out if the human saw the specifics of Karellen (I assume the tail and cloven hooves) or just saw the door closing. This was before the big reveal so I'm not sure if Clarke was just building suspense or if the human really didn't see anything significant.

When the island with the Greek name blew up from a nuclear explosion - what was the cause? There wasn't war, there didn't seem to be any reactors that would have melted down. It just kind of happened.


message 11: by Kathi, Moderator & Book Lover (last edited May 10, 2014 06:30AM) (new)

Kathi | 3030 comments Mod
Rob wrote: "When one of the humans shines his flashlight to see Karellen he mentions that he left the room but not soon enough. I re-read that half page a few times but could never figure out if the human saw the specifics of Karellen (I assume the tail and cloven hooves) or just saw the door closing."
My impression was that he did see the barbed tail and maybe the hooves, and that he believed Karellan allowed him to see that. And near the end of the book, one of the Overlords explained the way their race became associated with the devil/demons had to due with the fluid nature of time and that somehow the connection between the end of the human race was associated with the presence of the Overlords. A future event became imprinted in the minds of people in earlier times. I didn't quite get it but that was my impression of the rather unsatisfactory explanation.


message 12: by Rob (new)

Rob | 15 comments Ahh, that makes sense (well, not literal sense but I understand where he was going), so it was the end of man that caused the Devil to be the evil in Christianity because people were "remembering" something that happened in the future. My mind was hung up on thinking it was a past encounter with the Overlords that led to the whole Satan / hell thing.

So for Arthur C. Clarke fans, how does this rank amongst his works? Is this one of his best? Mediocre?


message 13: by mark (new)

mark monday (happy-end-of-the-world) | 113 comments I think it is considered to be one of his best, mainly because I've seen it appear at the top of various best of lists over the years. I don't have a lot of other Clarks under my belt to do much comparing (so I guess I'm not really answering the question posed because I'm not a diehard fan), but it is certainly one of the better classics of science fiction that I've read.


message 14: by Kathi, Moderator & Book Lover (new)

Kathi | 3030 comments Mod
I read a lot of Clarke years ago and enjoyed what I read, although nothing stands out.

The exception to that is the 2001 series. I thought those books were excellent.


message 15: by Mark Cheverton (new)

Mark Cheverton This is a great book, but did you know it started out as a short story? Also, Pink Floyd recorded a song of the same name. Listen to the lyrics...do you think they wrote the song about the book???


message 16: by Evgeny (new)

Evgeny Mark wrote: "This is a great book, but did you know it started out as a short story? Also, Pink Floyd recorded a song of the same name. Listen to the lyrics...do you think they wrote the song about the book???"

Which album would this be?


message 17: by Kurt (new)

Kurt Rocourt (krocourt) | 37 comments I read this book in high school. Its still one of the best books I've ever read.


message 18: by Nick (new)

Nick (doily) | 965 comments Kurt wrote: "I read this book in high school. Its still one of the best books I've ever read."

I also read this in high school. It was one of the books that shaped my interest in science fiction, even though at that time, yes even way back then, it was considered a "classic." Together with Asimov, Heinlein, Herbert, Bradbury -- all who were still writing at the time -- Clarke formed the basis that was expanding with more social oriented science fiction (at the time --1970's-- that was LeGuin, Elison, Tiptree, Jr., Lafferty).

Of all the Arthur C. Clarke books, the short story collection The Nine Billion Names of God and this novel, Childhood's End, hold that place of classical reverance for me.


Brenda ╰☆╮    (brnda) | 82 comments I was curious about the Pink Floyd song, so....


"Childhood's End"

You shout in your sleep. Perhaps the price is just too stepp. Is your conscience at rest if once put to the test? You awake with a start to just the beating of your heart. Just one man beneath the sky, Just two ears, just two eyes. You set sail across the sea of longpast thoughts and memories. Childhood's end, Your fantasies merge with harsh realities. And then as the sail is hoist, You find your eyes are growing moist. All the fears never voiced say you have to make your final choice. Who are you and who am I to say we know the reason why? Some are born; Some men die beneath one infinite sky. There'll be war, there'll be peace. But everything one day will cease. All the iron turned to rust; All the proud men turned to dust. And so all things, time will mend. So this song will end.

From Obscured by Clouds album.


message 20: by Keith (new)

Keith | 4 comments One thing that stood out for me were the similarities between culture under the Overlords and Ian Banks' Culture. We can't ask him any more but it would be interesting to see if there was a seed set or whether they arrived at the same place separately.


message 21: by Juston (last edited May 29, 2014 02:38PM) (new)

Juston Fenton I finished Arthur C Clarke's Childhood S End a couple of days ago, and while I did enjoy it, I felt there was one inconsistency which didn't sit well with me.

I felt that the inconsistency centered on how the evolved non-human children would have / did have no contact with their parents.

However, the over-mind - which the children joined - regularly contacted (although it is never clear how or to what level of detail that contact included) the over-lords.

IF the over-mind can communicate in anyway with the over-lords, then they should also be able to communicate with the last of humanity.

Apart from that, I have never read an Arthur C Clarke book that I didn't enjoy.


message 22: by Jon (new)

Jon (jonmoss) | 626 comments I really didn't care of this book at all. If anything, it was just okay. It's my first (and probably) last Clarke novel I'll read, if this is his 'best' effort.

The closer I reached the end, the more I just wanted it to be over. I've never been much for psi powers so this fell on deaf ears for me.

If Clarke was trying to sell an alternative to religion, he failed absymally. Mass suicide just because our children ascended to a higher plane? That's a bit much to swallow.


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