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Childhood's End | [Arthur C. Clarke]

Childhood's End

The Overlords appeared suddenly over every city - intellectually, technologically, and militarily superior to humankind. Benevolent, they made few demands: unify earth, eliminate poverty, and end war. With little rebellion, humankind agreed, and a golden age began.
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Publisher's Summary

The Overlords appeared suddenly over every city - intellectually, technologically, and militarily superior to humankind. Benevolent, they made few demands: unify earth, eliminate poverty, and end war. With little rebellion, humankind agreed, and a golden age began.

But at what cost? With the advent of peace, man ceases to strive for creative greatness, and a malaise settles over the human race. To those who resist, it becomes evident that the Overlords have an agenda of their own.

As civilization approaches the crossroads, will the Overlords spell the end for humankind...or the beginning?

BONUS AUDIO: Includes an exclusive introduction by Hugo Award-winning author Robert J. Sawyer, who explains why this novel, written in the 1950s, is still relevant today.

©2001 Arthur C. Clarke; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"In Eric Summerer's capable hands, the plot of Childhood's End is smoothly presented and fully credible. He highlights the patient nature of the Overlords, which has caused humans to become ever more complacent. Summerer excels at delivering the aliens' quiet and intensely engaging dialogue with people. His nuanced performance creates a growing feeling of uneasiness in the listener as the Overlords' insatiable curiosity and watchfulness begin to suggest something less than benign at work." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Amazon Customer Mesa, az, United States 02-15-12
    Amazon Customer Mesa, az, United States 02-15-12 Member Since 2003

    My Opinion's for your review, Thank You!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Childhood's End"

    It was a good book up until the end for me. I did enjoy the story and the narrators reading the story but I did not like the final twist. But I like Arthur C. Clarke's ability to tell/write a good story in general.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marilyn Uxbridge, MA, United States 07-14-11
    Marilyn Uxbridge, MA, United States 07-14-11

    I read all the time, or nearly. I always have, I guess, since I was very young ... and now, getting older, more audio than any other medium.

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    "Still a great book: a must read for sci-fi readers"

    What's really startling is how NOT dated the book is. Clarke was a visionary and a very accurate one. And of course, a very fine author. This is one of my top ten favorite science fiction books and one of the foundation books for all of science fiction. If you haven't read it, do it now ... and if you read it in print years ago, time to read it again. It's well narrated, too and will definitely keep your interest.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vered Tel-Aviv, Israel 11-05-08
    Vered Tel-Aviv, Israel 11-05-08 Member Since 2008
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    "Enjoyable, Classic, old fashioned Eutopia Sci-fi"

    A sweet reminder of Old fashioned somewhat philosophical Sci-fi - men encountering superior outer space beings and questioning their own existance.

    A bit simplistic, but considering the decade in which it was written, it's a real beauty.

    15 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dylan PUEBLO, COLORADO, United States 04-21-11
    Dylan PUEBLO, COLORADO, United States 04-21-11
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    "Absolutely breathtaking..."

    This was the first Arthur C. Clark novel I have ever read. After watching 2001: A Space Odyssey, I was a bit concerned that I wouldn't "get" what was going on in this novel. However, the book totally blew my mind and left me feeling awe and wonder in the concluding chapters. This is a must read!

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DSD Georgia 08-23-12
    DSD Georgia 08-23-12 Listener Since 2009

    Stop listening to other people's opinions and form one of your own. That's sound advice, or not. It all depends on how literal you take it.

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    "Fooled once again"

    Once again the reviewers are smoking crack. Greatest Sci-Fi of all time... what?? really??? Did you just finish your bowl of lucky charms? If you had a choice between this and 2001... you'd pick this??? why?? At least in 2001 you have the idea of mystery and a goal. With this book you have spaceships hovering and an ending, while pretty cool, fails to make up for the rest of this less than great story.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ian Newcastle, Australia 04-05-11
    Ian Newcastle, Australia 04-05-11 Member Since 2011
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    "Not Clarke's best, but still worth the listen"

    I found this enjoyable as an audiobook - the production was good, and the narrator did a fine job.
    I've been a Clarke fan since childhood, and I read this in print many years ago, but wasn't quite captivated by it then. I still found this to be the case now - it's a good book, probably quite visionary in its' day, but it just doesn't grab me in the way '2001' or 'Rendezvous With Rama' would. Some of the technology references seem rather quaint, but considering the original publishing date of 1953, this doesn't detract from the story too much.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Hoeilaart, Belgium 03-19-12
    David Hoeilaart, Belgium 03-19-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Dated and tired"

    While this was probably fresh and intrigueing in 1953 when it appeared, it reads now like a new author's first attempt at the genre. The human race is torn by senseless conflict but an alien civilization imposes peace. All the old unscientific beliefs are abandoned. The religious beliefs of mankind are exposed to be the result of ancient alien visitations.

    This is replaced by another form of spirituality that feels contrived. It is an idealized form of Sci-Fi that definitely pre-dates The Neuromancer and other works that project the complexity of human existence into another reality.

    That, together with the outdated vision of technological progress (there are flying cars, but computers and other electronics hardly appear), made listening to this book a bit like watching a 1950's Sci-Fi film in black and white.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CRISTY Bluffton, SC, United States 08-18-11
    CRISTY Bluffton, SC, United States 08-18-11

    Mommy of twins

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    "Science is the only religion of mankind." -Clarke"

    All in all not a bad read, but not my favorite either. I am a fan of sci-fi fiction, but CHILDHOOD'S END, for me was a victim of a too chaotic plot. There is just so much going on. The idea behind the chaos was a decent one, but the story itself had just too much overall general information covering such a vast array of characters over a long span of time, making it very difficult to connect with any one protagonist or any of the many characters for that matter. I found CHILDHOOD's END to be a very grandiose idea that lacked depth and detail and even though the ending is quite strong, I can't say I didn't see it coming; nor was it the first sci-fi story to come to a similar end. Granted it very well may be The First (being that Clarke originally published CHILDHOOD'S END back in 1953), but it's far from the first of its likes to cross my path and unfortunately not the best executed/developed. Think Independence Day meets Twilight Zone.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gary Las Cruces, NM, United States 11-28-13
    Gary Las Cruces, NM, United States 11-28-13 Member Since 2001

    Letting the rest of the world go by

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    "Why can't all sci-fi be this good"

    The zeitgeist of the 50s wonderfully comes through in this splendid novel, man is our own worst enemy and we need a higher power to safe ourselves from nuclear annihilation.

    There are a couple of wonderful things about this book. You can read many different interpretations into this book. One possible reading is that we create our own god(s) and the universe becomes self aware through us (I like Ray Kurzweil books!), or you can read something else into what the story means. It's up to the listener.

    Overall, the book is a really intelligent look at what 1950s thinking thought we would become. I'm amazed in a lot of ways we have progressed even more than what was predicted by such an intelligent thinker as Arthur C Clark.

    The book is not dated whatsoever (what a compliment to the author). It's narrated splendidly.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike From Mesa Mesa, AZ 11-22-13
    Mike From Mesa Mesa, AZ 11-22-13 Member Since 2003

    MikeFromMesa

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    "The view 50+ years on ..."

    I first read Clarke's Childhood's End when I was very young. At that time I spent most of my waking hours when out of grade school in the Public Library and I remember reading through this book and feeling that all of my questions about war, cruelty and fate were answered within its pages. I never forgot the book and carried fond memories through my life. Of course when I saw it on Audible and realized that it was a Daily Deal I immediately bought it.

    My experience with this book as an adult turned out to be quite different from that when I was a child. What I thought of, as a child, as clear analysis and thoughtful solutions now seem to me to be naivety and silly suggestions. Clarke has presented us with answers that work well for a child but which I, as an adult, can only think of as foolish nostrums and wishful thinking. Some examples of Clarke's ideas in this book:

    War and violence solves nothing. Of course I was told that as a child and Clarke's statement of it in this book made perfect sense to me when I was 13 years old, but as an adult I know how silly that statement actually is. Heinlein had the right answer to that statement in Starship Troopers when one of the characters refers to the end of World War II as proving that often violence is the only answer to some problems. All one has to do is think about The American Civil War, The English Civil War, the fate of Napoleon, The Punic Wars, The Battle of Salamis, The Battle of Thermopylae and the list goes on. It is not nice, it is not pretty but it is often true.

    Theft and robbery would disappear if everyone had enough to satisfy their basic needs. One only has to look at the crime statistics from the Soviet Union where everyone had about the same level of goods to see that is not true.

    A world constitution is easy to create and would satisfy all of the nations. And more ...

    Clarke's writing is, of course, wonderful and his characters and control of the story are superb. Clarke was a wonderful writer and a great storyteller. Unfortunately, as an adult, this story strikes me as mostly silly nonsense and my sense of disappointment after re-reading as an adult it is profound. This book is wonderful for a young teenager but not so great for an adult aware of the limitations of the world. Many of the ideas presented are very simplistic and the notion of how humanity would likely react when they finally saw the Overlords seems like a far cry from reality.

    Many reviews would probably take issue with my analysis and point out that the core of the book is about what happens after humanity is "reformed" and "changed" but getting past the initial assumptions, which occur somehow painlessly and without violence, is a bridge too far for me.

    Of course this is a science fiction book, but I still expect it to reflect a basic level of reality as regards human beings. As well read as this book is I feel I have to differ from many of those reviewing it and say that I can only recommend this book if the reader is willing to suspend common sense. On the bright side the narration is excellent.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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