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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.

Critic Reviews

"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

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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    2,990
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    2,255
  • 3 Stars
    1,063
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    236
  • 1 Stars
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Performance

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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  • Story

Delivery was fine. Story didn't appeal to me.

The story wasnwell told by the author but the story was not what I expected. Even the final conclusion (which, as noted, I didn't like) wasn't very impressive. If nothing else I felt the delivery at this point was lacking.

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Great book!

Sticks with you and keeps you thinking. I love his novels, and this one was a really good one.

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Rough Childhood

After watching the SyFy channel adaption of Childhood's End, I decided to dig into the source material to see if the mini-series did justice to the original work. This review will compare and contrast the two because my point of reference was obscured from the beginning.

In comparison, the movie adaption left me feeling sad yet hopeful about humanity evolving and joining a universal consciousness. I believe this was a conscious decision by the writers and directors to leave out some vital parts of the story to make it seem like a happier ending. Humanity died off, Earth was destroyed, but mankind succeeded in becoming something higher than itself. Seemed bitter sweet.

In the movie adaption, The Overlords were simply unable to further evolve to join the Overmind. The Overmind was presented as a God-like entity which humanity was joining with because we had reached the pinnacle of our evolution. The movie seemed to carry more a positive angle to it.

The source material was much bleaker in comparison. Finding out The Overlords were also a doomed slave race, which did the bidding of the Overmind, brought a whole new dimension of horror to this story. The "benevolent" Overlords helped farm the human race because they had no other choice but to obey a power which they themselves couldn't understand.

Jan's entire trip to the Overlord planet was cut out of the movie as well. This made the greatest impact on the story as I think Jan was mistaken in thinking he was in a museum documenting all the aliens races the Overlords encounter. Jan wasn't in a museum. He was in a memorial to the human race.

At the end, it feels more like the Overmind was nothing more than a monster who fed on the psychic energies of different races. The Overlords were spared destruction because they didn't have the psychic energy. They volunteered to assist the Overmind simply out of self-preservation since it most likely would have destroyed them had they not.

Overall, I enjoyed this book even though I was originally influenced by the movie. I think had I gone into it in the opposite order, I most likely would have been disappointed with the movie's more positive ending.

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Great Story

This story represents what science fiction should be, almost beyond imagination and still perceptively plausible.

The story of encounter is presented in the most connected and inclusive way, binding the reader to the wonder and intricacy of the situation.

It is a great read and an engrossing story; highly recommended.

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  • C.J.
  • Melbourne, Australia
  • 08-24-16

Great sci fi

I have had some bad luck with science fiction lately with stories where the writer cannot even imagine a future without war let alone a positive distant future. I was about to give up on the genre altogether until I listened to this.
I really recommend it. it's hard to believe it was written so long ago, besides some racial observations the book is timeless.

Its Awesome.

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Some classics last forever

Clarke was so far ahead of his time with all his works that when reading the writings of today's science fact authors you quickly realize how poor their imaginations' really are.

Childhood's End never makes use of the title within the story. Only at the very end does its meaning become apparent. Even then it is only comprehended by the introspective mind.

Both sad and yet glorious, this tale of the end of humanity's childhood will open the doors to a world rarely conceived by the minuscule minds that remain within the demon haunted world.

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From atoms to aether

Incredible story. Very well performed. Only suggestion is matching audiobook chapters with actual chapters more closely, to make navigation easier.

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Mind Blowing

This book was absolutely incredible. It starts off kinda slow but with some interesting concepts, but one twist after another the book builds an incredible idea of what humanity's true purpose is.

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astounding book

dated technology, of course, but still an amazingly powerful book. extremely well written with strong characters and a good performance. it does seem like, along with a lot of great authors with good ideas, that they don't know quite how to end things. could have used a little more polish there.

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An excellent story.

I bought his book because of the 3 part TV miniseries, and was curious as to its adaptation.
They changed the story enough, to allow insights in to the core of it, but retained the core, itself.

At first, I was disappointed with the choice of narrator, thinking they would use the actor, who play Korrellan, but that passed quickly, as their choice was an excellent one.

This new interest in this book, and The Rapture, has been prevalent in media as of late, why, I do not know.

The book is solid, the story, excellent, and finely crafted, very mature, instead of pulp sciFi.

I have re listened to this book, a second time, to flesh out the TV series again.

Dare to listen, or read, if you are very religious. It may harden, or crack your resolve.