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.
"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)
This book is a good example of the drive toward making sci-fi more abstract (not sure if that's the right word -maybe "next-dimension-y" is better) and out-there around the late sixties. This book doesn't have one set of main characters that one could follow from start to end. Instead the story is told through a few sets of characters spread over a period of a hundred years. And, the plot moves along to a fantastic, mind-bendingly abstract / next-dimension-y sort of finish.
This is just my second Arthur Clark novel. I read "2001: A Space Oddity" first. This novel was one of the author's first and, in the view of some, his best. Personally, I liked 2001 better. I did not find the characters in this novel all that engaging, even though the overarching story was really quite good.
I'd still recommend this novel to sci-fi fans as a neat story and worth their time.
I've read it's being made into a miniseries to be released in December 2015. The story is good, so hopefully the miniseries does it justice and makes the characters more likable to boot.
tough to believe this was written 30 years ago, arthur c clark was way ahead of his time. extremely imaginative, highly introspective. blew through this audiobook in a couple days. highly recommended.
In a small, peaceful town on the Equator, the sun always sets at 6, and a good audiobook is always the perfect evening companion.
“I have a 4 millimeter camera and thousands of meters of film,” remarks one character. Arthur C. Clarke’s science fiction masterpiece doesn’t predict everything with accuracy, whether it’s the evolution of digital cameras or the failed dream of worldwide adoption of the metric system. But it does paint a fascinating future in which the malaise of prosperity and unlimited leisure time leads in an unexpected way to the complete disappearance of professional sports, for example, and most scientific research.
I must admit that I’m not a serious science fiction fan, though I do appreciate a good story. And my conclusion is that this is a better story than it is spellbinding prose. The plot, despite those occasional holes, is inventive and often surprising. It covers a lot of territory, sometimes in dramatic leaps, after a bit of a slow start. The writing, however, is stilted and formal in style, and so is the narration. But the story carries the day, as it must, and the result is a good listen to a seminal work.
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.
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!
Mommy of twins
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.
A well written and narrated novel about the slow progression of humanity's end. This novel is rather unique in that sense since most novels tend to depict humanity soldiering on even after untold billions parish.
I suppose no one can really predict what the future truly holds for humanity's survival but, and I may be a bit biased here, I prefer novels that show us continuing ... if only so future generations can have the joy of reading new/exciting SciFi/Fantasy adventures.
I'm amazed that Clarke could envision star drives and extraterrestrials but not, like, women scientists or pilots. It's omnipresent in all his work, but this one suffers particularly.
Not what I thought it would be. Much worse actually. The concept of the plot grabbed me but the execution and finality disappointed.
I guess the true beauty of this book is not so much the journey but the thoughtfulness it provokes when finished. It made me want to join a book appreciation society that i might find someone to discuss it with. In the end i annoyed my friends on facebook until they read it too. i'm pleased to see that everyone has a different stance on it and everyone had their own person/race to empathise with. The book can be heart-breaking but only if you are the sort of person who dwells on a book on completion.
"Good but depressing"
I enjoyed this book. It was well written and thought-provoking, but the ending seemed somewhat empty and hopeless, although I expect other listeners will interpret it differently. It is certainly worth listening to and is well narrated, and I can understand why it is regarded as a classic, although some of the plot-lines seem a bit higgledy-piggledy and unsuccessfully shaped to fit.
"A Classic well worth the listen"
Not the greatest narration, and written some time ago so some technological references were a little dated.
But none the less it is a classic with some great twists and real impact.
"An engrossing performance; vintage Sci-Fi"
A great audiobook performance means you don't notice the narrator. Eric Michael Summer puts in a clear well-voiced performance. Like all the best performers, Summer's range persuades you to forget only one man is doing the voices; you soon get immersed in the story.
Childhood's End is a mini-epic of a novel, written with Clarke's usual clarity and poignancy. For those of us who have been downloading his five volumes of Collected Short Stories from Audible, Childhood's End is a MUST. And certainly my book of choice for my desert island disc selection.
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