A Review of Childhood’s End

Childhood's EndChildhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Childhood’s End is simply one of the most brilliant, excellent, and exciting science fiction novels I have ever read. To think that it was published in 1953, years before so much of this technology had even been thought of, is miraculous.

One day numerous huge space ships appear and hover over all of Earth’s major cities. Aliens have “invaded” the earth. They are called “Overlords” and people are now at their mercy. However, they’ve come to do good! They solve Earth’s political, criminal, religious, military, and nuclear war problems and introduce a life of leisure and prosperity to all of humanity. Yet they won’t show themselves and this drives people nuts. The head of the UN is the only human allowed to talk to the Overlord Supervisor and he does so once a week. Finally, he begs him to show himself to humanity and is told that the Overlords will … in 50 years.

Fifty years later, when mankind has grown lazy and incompetent, the Overlords descend from their ships and show themselves and what humans see is shocking. Yet they get used to seeing them among them.

Meanwhile, one man, Jan, decides to stow away on an Overlord ship to go their home planet. He estimates it will take 80 earth years, but because of light speed, only two month his time, or four months going both ways, as he’s sure he’ll be sent back once he’s found there. And he succeeds. And is stunned at what he finds. The Overlords’ planet and cities are unlike anything he could ever have imagined and he yearns for Earth.

Meanwhile, a couple named Greg and Jean have two young children where they live on an island commune. Their oldest boy is saved from a tsunami by an Overlord and starts having odd dreams. His parents become worried. Greg eventually meets with Karellen, the Overlord Supervisor, and what he is told chills him. Mankind is changing. The Overlords are here to supervise that. What happens to facilitate that is truly original and the ultimate fate of humanity is rather sad, in my opinion. When Jan gets home from the Overlord’s planet, he is stunned at the changes on Earth. And a lot is explained to him, and to us. The final pages are chilling and simply unreal. I’ve never read anything like them before. Clarke can really write some original stuff.

To me, this is easily a five star book. In fact, I’m under the impression that this won a Hugo at some point. If so, it was much deserved. The book “only” has a 4.07 out of 5 rating on Goodreads, so there are obviously some people who don’t agree with my assertion, but that’s still a pretty good rating. Do I recommend it? Hell yeah, I do! This is easily one of the best books I have ever read. And frankly it helps that it’s only about 200 pages. You can read it in a day or two. Strongly recommended.

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One thought on “A Review of Childhood’s End

  1. I will put this on my To Read List! I still have some birthday money leftover from Sept…so I can buy a few books.
    I’ve recently read Bossypants by Tina Fey, Zoo by James Patterson and A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson.
    How are you doing, Scott? You’ve been in my prayers.
    (((HUGS))) for you and for SweetG.!!! 🙂


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