Childhood's End


Apr 20, 2005
Living in Thanet, home of the cabbage and seagull.
Any thoughts anyone?

I'm surprised not to see it as one of Clarke's best works. Considering it's only a handful of pages, I thought it would appeal to short story and novel lovers.

Would really love to have your opinions - as it has been a while since I've read it and I have a hankering to reaquaint myself with it again......
i have fond memories of childhood's end! it's actually the very first scifi book i EVER read. my mother gave it to me when i was 12 or 13 in an effort to get me hooked on reading and BOY did it ever work. clarke is one of my favorite authors and this is one of my favorite books by him. the plot is very timely and i think applies to almost any period of history: the world is full of unrest, humans fighting against humans, and then out of the sky, we're clobbered over the head with the knowledge that we're not alone and all the petty bickering is just that, petty, when looked upon at a galactic scale. the story is points out that humans are inherently homo-centric, that we feel we're the center of the universe.. and then that attitude is swiftly crushed under the weight of alien knowledge and compassion. i also liked the addition of ESP and other psychic phenomena. it's an all-around well-crafted novel, if short.

my other favorite novels by clarke are the rama series (i loved them all but rama 2), imperial earth, and against the fall of night/lion of comarre.
That's it, you really have done it! I dug out the masterpiece - and will be dusting down the cover and getting myself comfortable while waiting to be sucked into Clarkes world. Thank you!

I do remember it having that almighty 'slap in the face' resonance - rightly as you say, when the discovery of petty things are just that.

I've read the Rama's - muchly enjoyed them - spent most of the books wondering where they were going and more over where they came from - that sentence makes as much sense as the plot did to me when I first read them!

I have to admit the 2001, 2010 etc.. stories were engrossing. I do enjoy Clarkes ability to work closely with science fact to make science fiction. He does remain my favourite SF author. Stephen Baxter is a way off second.... no-ones come close to Clarke!
clarke's da bomb! and a damn good scientist as well. he's extremely smart and i think that's evident from his clear understanding of "science fact", as you say. i always point out that the geo-synchronous satellite was HIS idea! and that many of the plotlines in his stories are based on proofs and theories that he has read of other's.

that said, i have to say that his latest novels don't interest me as much as the stuff that he wrote in the 70s and 80s. when you get done with childhood's end, you should read against the fall of night. another one of my favorites!
Got to agree that I like Clarke's work because it always seems to have believable science in it (or at least Clarke makes it all sound possible).

Like Steven Baxter too though and kind of look on him as a modern day Clarke.

Childhood's End is a great read although maybe a bit dated now. Loved the sudden rude awakening mankind was given and I was intrigued by the notion of "future memories" which made the aliens have such a frightening appearance for humans.

For me, the award winning first Rama book was easily the best and the collaboration ones did not even come close.
Carl Sagan's 'Contact' was a damn good read too. Goes along the same science-fact thinking. I admire it so, cos it's a really good read - strong characters and well thought out story. Admittedly, the film (of the same name) was pretty good too - a bit Hollywood - and has become dated quickly, and the ending was different, but still in my top ten book and film list.

Baxter is also an author who's many books I own and have read -I can't remember many of the title or plots - just that the main character was called Malenfaint (sp?). Not too distressing tho', just means I'll read 'em again, and possibly again.

Clarke - yes I do concur - early work beats recent stuff (much like paper beats rocks..) 2001, 2010, 2061 and 3001 - cracking!!

Know of any other science-fact authors you recommend?????
Sooby said:
Know of any other science-fact authors you recommend?????

science-fact authors are a bit hard to come by but i think that if you love clarke you'll also love asimov. there's another great thread going on over at the classic scifi board about asimov. a lot of his novels are based upon what is/could be possible and aren't entirely far-fetched. good stuff like clarke's novels are hard to come by but asimov and he were contemporaries and good friends. their novels have the same voice, i feel.
Thanks Gleek - have read Asimov, bit it's been some years. About time to re-visit!

Carl Sagan's 'Contact'. If you've never read it then give it a go. Same lines - brilliant story.

If your up for a mindbending non-fiction, give Michio Kaku a go -
It is the most lovely listening ever!! Although I think the link goes to a transcript of the interview.... but even his hard-science-fact book are filled with concepts even the layman can grasp. Scintillating, honest!


it was 1 of the best the end of it i was transported to a diff space-time altogether..........:rolleyes:

in fact there was a short story featured in a book called 'the sentinel' by a.c. clarke.......that worked as the first chapt for the novel...!!

the concept of community memmory of future was good....:eek:
Sooby said:
I'm surprised not to see it as one of Clarke's best works.
I'm not sure where you've been looking; Childhood's End is widely considered one of Clarke's masterpieces.

Personally I've always felt it got a little too much acclaim, as I can rattle off a good handful of title I feel are better works: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Rendezvous With Rama, Imperial Earth, and The Sands of Mars are all of higher caliber, in my opinion.

I think there are only two Clarke novels left for me to read, Ghost From The Grand Banks and another title I can’t specifically recall, one of his earlier novels. Even a bad Clarke is better than the vast majority of science fiction out there.
Sooby said:
Carl Sagan's 'Contact' was a damn good read too. (...) Know of any other science-fact authors you recommend?????
Talkin about Sagan, we mustn't forget "The Listeners" by James Gunn - a book in which we can see science overhelming fiction even more, a book not strictly about the contact but about the people who can make that, about their philsophy, beliefs, way of thinking, about their dreams and fears, a book which shows how would it look like if one day they saw red light and heard "beeeep" in SETI central... Great book, I recommend it!

"Childhood's End"? I haven't read many Clarke's novels, I liked short stories and first "Space Odyssey" (although, movie makes bigger impression - book is like many others science fiction novels), I don't remeber "Rama" (I read it too long ago), but from what I've read I must say that "Childhood's End" is the best! Even more - probably it's the best science fiction novel I've ever read! Why? Beacaus it has everything: goog plot, good ideas, good performance. Well, maybe it's not like romances or thrillers where you identify with heroes, you love with them and are scared with them, maybe Clarke is not the best author in case of using the language and holding a reader in tension. But he's good enough. And he is the best considering the idea. In "Childhood's End" we have a monumental story from first contact with aliens, through changes in people's life to the magnificent vision of one of probable mankind's futures... till it's very end. I've never felt so small and still so complete, so lost and so sure, so excited and so scared like when reading last chapters of that book.
I've always considered Childhood's End the best of Clarke's concepts, myself. Not just good SF, but incredibly deep and resonant in humanity. Imagine a racial injury in the future so bad that its resonance is felt in the past! Childhood's End really challenges the reader's sense of scale, physically, mentally and temporally.

Always amazed me that no one ever managed to make a good movie of it (Universal tried decades ago, and the closest we got out of it was "V").
Hm is it that good.

Lucky me i picked it randomly as my first book by him. The name sounded interesting and also it was the only book by him i could find in the library that wasnt a sequal ;)
Really? Hopefully that's because the rest of his books were checked out, and not that the library is falling down on the job of providing a good variety of Clarke's good works.
Sadly my library arent big on SF,F specially not in english. I cant read any original english langauge book on translated swedish.

The books by ACC in english on the hole library are the many 2001 sequals,Rama and its seqauls,this book and thats it. I can of course order a book from another library but the costs and takes alot of time.
That's a shame. Many of his books are available as e-books... if you'd be willing to read them on a computer, handheld PC, or smartphone. I can recommend any of the earlier ones, but his more recent collaboration books aren't considered the best.
It doesnt matter cause if like an author i go to my bookshop and buy his best books/short stories.

I am hoping this is good cause i havent read that much SF. I have read Assimov's Foundation series,Adams Hitchhiker's Guide to the galaxy and Starship Troopers. Thats it cause i didnt read that much SF before but now i want more and i choosed ACC cause he is seen as one of the greatest.
I loved Childhood's End! It's one of the few Clarke books the library has, and definitely one of my favourites. Another Clarke I loved was Earthlight, especially the last-but-one chapter.

Sagan's Contact is also brilliant. Good characters, strong plot, brilliant ending... I couldn't put it down.
CoR: It's been quite a while, but yes, I think you'll like it. It is definitely one of the classics of the genre, and deservedly so...
I found it ammusing that in "3001: Final Odyssey", the book's ending mirrored that of the film "Independence Day" and not to mention that the film took the beginning from Childhood's End.

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