“Childhood’s End” by Arthur C. Clarke

I’m convinced that science fiction works for me only as movies and TV shows. I don’t take well to it in novel form.

I was eager to read Childhood’s End because I’d seen the TV miniseries that aired on SyFy a couple years ago. I think it was three episodes total, and I liked the first two but didn’t like how it ends. I thought the book would be better, but the show has since grown foggy in my mind so now I can’t tell. I just know that I enjoyed watching the TV show more than reading the book.

Genre:

Science fiction

Series:

n/a

Pubbed:

August 1953

Goodreads summary:

Childhood’s End is one of the defining legacies of Arthur C. Clarke, the author of 2001: A Space Odyssey and many other groundbreaking works. Since its publication in 1953, this prescient novel about first contact gone wrong has come to be regarded not only as a science fiction classic but as a literary thriller of the highest order.

Spaceships have suddenly appeared in the skies above every city on the planet. Inside is an intellectually, technologically, and militarily superior alien race known as the Overlords. At first, their demands seem benevolent: unify Earth, eliminate poverty, end war. But at what cost? To those who resist, it’s clear that the Overlords have an agenda of their own. Has their arrival marked the end of humankind . . . or the beginning? (Goodread)

My thoughts:

I’m glad to have read a sci-fi classic. Unfortunately, I didn’t like it. It didn’t work for me. The story presents some interesting ideas about the evolution of humanity, which is brought about by an alien race, but it didn’t appeal to me and I didn’t believe it. It turned me off, actually, and the reason why is because I disagree with the author’s vision. Because of that, I won’t go in detail because Clarke was only presenting what he imagined would happen in his story’s situation, so my discussion will just be a ranty argument.

There was nothing about the story that appealed to me in its novel form. The characters didn’t work for me and seemed to lack development, and so, too, the plot. The story instead places more focus on the topics and ideas that arise from this peculiar situation of having an alien race intimidate humans to reveal them for the children they are. Then that race helps humans to better themselves by having humans put away childish things — war, religion, etc. — before revealing themselves to have a close likeness to the monster humanity has feared for centuries (I actually liked this part). This alien race ushers in a new age where there’s no war or strife, and humans are able to pursue interests at their leisure and tend to live longer, but it’s all for an evolution humanity will not expect.

This book is a great one to discuss. I think I would have enjoyed it better if I’d buddy-read it or was able to discuss it afterward with someone who had read it. Since I read it purely for enjoyment, it didn’t work for me. It’s interesting that this is the case for me with books. I don’t have this difficulty when watching a TV show or movie. I also tend to be more open to the sci-fi genre in those forms. However, this will not be my last sci-fi novel. I intend to try again. I think Clarke’s writing may have also thrown me off because I didn’t like it and found it difficult to get into the story.

Overall: ★★☆☆☆ ½

Meh. I guess it’s a decent read since everyone says so, but it didn’t work for me. Also, my book is an updated version where parts of the beginning was changed by the author to fit a more modern time, but I think the beginning would have been more impactful if it had retained the race between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., which was in the original.

Buy | Borrow | Bypass

17 thoughts on ““Childhood’s End” by Arthur C. Clarke

  1. I always thought this was part of the Ender’s Game series or something for some reason hahah Sorry to hear it didn’t work for you. I find that some of the sci-fi classics tend to focus more on the ideas rather than the characters or plot too. It’s when they understand how those elements are just as important as the ideas that things are magical with scifi. Great review!

    Like

  2. I had a similar experience with Orwell’s 1984 which I read a couple of months back , not sci-fi but think the “story” part of the book would be more palatable on screen . the protagonist Winston smith I thought impotent and highly dated , it had me hoping that the thought police would give him a jolly good thrashing earlier , say page 3 or 4.
    I found myself a-murmering cut to the chase already and had me wondering how this book made the list and then the “chase” happened , at about pg 70.
    Although his characters are shallow and unlikable they do tie Orwell’s idea’s on totalitarianism together and effectively lead one there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol! Lol!
      Yea, I agree on that about 1984. It worked for the ideas Orwell was trying to get across. I was bored by it too when I read it years ago, but it makes for good discussion.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. True that!
        My favorite part on pg 83:
        I understand HOW: I do not understand WHY.
        He wondered, as he had many times wondered before whether he himself was a lunatic. Perhaps a lunatic was simply a minority of one. At one time it had been a sign of madness to believe that the earth goes round the sun: today, to believe that the past is unalterable. He might be alone in holding that belief, and if alone, then a lunatic. But the thought of being a lunatic did not greatly trouble him: the horror was that he might also be wrong.

        I just love that !!
        A wrong lunatic!
        This would be a fate worse than death!!!
        On the topic of lunacy, if it wasn’t for lunatics we wouldn’t know that the moon is made of cheese!
        Which incidentaly is the real reason why they are so eager to get back there!!
        World cheese stocks are running drastically low!!!

        Liked by 2 people

        1. On a serious note , in the quoted text he mention’s that it was a sign of madness to believe that the EARTH goes around the SUN
          Which is a madness! , that’s still in use. It leads to confusion and simply is wrong. If it were so the stars would be different as we gaze upon them from different sides of the SUN.
          The truth been that the EARTH spirals after the SUN and is gradually moving away from it.

          As the planets move away from the SUN , LIFE has needed to leave the OLD worlds and MOVE closer to our LIFE giving SUN.

          VENUS , our next move , will “shortly” have it’s twin “sister” she shall be called THEA a retrograde planet the SUN’S new “child”.

          When I say ” shortly ” TIME is a funny thing , when VAST quantities are listened to ,
          These are the sound’s it made:

          Liked by 1 person

      2. Hehehe!
        On a seriously serious note now
        QUESTION
        If human DNA were to be found on mars , Do you think that this information would be made PUBLIC and if yes what do you think would be the likely outcome of such knowledge ??

        Like

        1. Hmm, no. I don’t think it would be made public and if it was I think many people wouldn’t believe it. But those who do would want to test it to its limits.

          Like

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