read online pdf Childhood's EndAuthor Arthur C. Clarke –

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 BeganBut 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

10 thoughts on “Childhood's End

  1. says:

    No utopia can ever give satisfaction to everyone, all the time As their material conditions improve, men raise their sights and become discontented with power and possessions that once would have seemed beyond their wildest dreams And even when the external world has granted all it can, there still remain the searchings of the mind and the longings of the heart The United States and the Soviet Union were in the midst of a military space race when large ships appeared in the skies over all the major cities The aliens have come to keep humans from annihilating themselves An act of altruism Or do they have another agenda The press dubs them THE OVERLORDS, but they much prefer to refer to themselves as The Guardians They allow humans to govern themselves by whatever means they feel comfortable unless policy decisions involve hurting people Man s beliefs were his own affair, so long as they did not interfere with the liberty of others The Overlords also did not approve of hurting animals for sport In Madrid, when the Spaniards insist on continuing to hold bullfights, a lesson is administered Every time the bull is stabbed, the pain the animal is feeling is transferred to the audience No bullfights.Robotics and computers are advanced to the point that humans are only needed as overseers Work weeks are cut down to twenty hours a week OMG sign me UP People are encouraged to go to college, to develop hobbies and skills, and even go back to school several times over their lifetimes to learn something completely new The existence of so much leisure would have created tremendous problems a century before Education had overcome most of these, for a well stocked mind is safe from boredom And for a while the excitement of improving themselves keeps the humans on a spectacular track of not only bettering themselves, but also evolving civilization Murder has become almost nonexistent, and when passion inspires such aggression, it is only the matter of turning a dial for The Overlords to find the perpetrator When I google NSA, the National Security Agency of course comes up, but so does No Strings Attached, which I found very ironic Given the range and the depth of what the NSA knows about all of us, not just US citizens by the way, maybe we should start applying the term The Overlords to the United States government It would be nice if they would convert all this information into something practical, like catching murderers Knowing how these things work, they may not want us to know that they are capable of doing that We might get fearful of our government Barrage balloons over London during World War II Clarke observed balloons like these floating over the city in 1941 He recalls that his earliest idea for the story may have originated with this scene, with the giant balloons becoming alien ships in the novel.It seems to be the fate of all Utopias to turn leisure into sloth and turn unlimited possibilities into boredom Interesting that Arthur C Clarke uses the advancement of Television technology to be a major contributor to the degradation of a perfect society People became passive sponges absorbing but never creating Clarke mentions that people in this society started watching television three hours per day Rookies The latest statistics that I saw mentioned that Americans now watch five hours of television a day on average.Obviously, I don t watch television five hours a day as can be ascertained by how many books I read a year If the Kansas City Royals are playing, I do watch about three hours, but I m also still reading and researching while the game is on Baseball is the perfect background noise for doing just about anything, including taking a much needed nap to rest the noggin for a few minutes When people ask me how I read so many books a year and still work full time, I usually ask them how much time they spend watching television or playing with their cell phone or playing games on their iPad Everyone has the same number of hours in their day it just depends on how you choose to use them I choose to read People who read fewer books than me are making different choices or in some cases may have obligations Of course, this is relevant only because I see reading as the best way to evolve the mind I m old fashioned that way There were some things that only time could cure Evil men could be destroyed, but nothing could be done with good men who were deluded There are concerns voiced by various religious groups and also by people who are not thrilled about humans losing their ability to govern themselves, but for the majority of people the lack of responsibility and the lack of ambition to succeed are concepts they readily embrace A society that was evolving to the greatest heights of artistic and progressive achievements starts to prefer apathy The Overlords are very careful to control what the humans learn about them A man named Jan Rodericks stows away on one of their ships and sees a world he can barely comprehend And in its sky was such a sun as no opium eater could ever have imagined in his wildest dreams Too hot to be white, it was a searing ghost at the frontiers of the ultraviolet, burning its planets with radiations which would be instantly lethal to all earthly forms of life For millions of kilometers around extended great veils of gas and dust, fluorescing in countless colors as the blasts of ultraviolet tore through them It was a star against which Earth s pale sun would have been as feeble as a glowworm at noon In one of those time travelling, mind bending events that I always have trouble fully comprehending, Jan only ages a few months, but has missed eighty years on Earth The Overlords make allusion to the fact that science can destroy religions, but that science is not the top of the mountain, but only a stepping stone to a much greater understanding of life They search through our archives looking for information on the paranormal and other elements that have been written about outside the realm of science When the children of earth start to develop telekinetic powers, the true reasons for The Overlords being our guardians becomes clear We also learn that the Overlords defer to another power much greater than their own capabilities called The Overmind I caught a commercial for the six hour miniseries that the Syfy Channel is planning to launch in December and realized that I have hauled a copy of this book around with me for a couple of decades without reading it Sometimes we need one push As always I m impressed with Arthur C Clarke s ability to tackle the bigger issues and to be somewhat controversial in his presentation of the best and worst of being human It does seem that we are incapable of possessing true happiness for very long We are designed for strife, for pain, for joy, and ambitious achievement When any of those elements are removed from the equation, we start to falter Joy can only be fully appreciated if we experience pain Ambition can only be relished if strife was overcome to achieve it As The Overlords fix all the problems, there is a huge cost, too big of a cost, in that we lose what makes us unique It is disappointing to think that harmony and lack of fear will turn us into beings unworthy of admiration When defense is no longer a primary objective, it is disheartening to believe that the energy previously expended on security can not be transferred to higher levels of achievement in the arts, philosophy, music, and literature To be the best that we can be, we still need the growl of the Sabretooth tiger coming from just beyond the edge of the firelight We still need to be capable of picking up a club and saying here kitty, kitty, kitty This is a short book, power packed with ideas and concepts, and certainly deserving of inclusion in the list of classic, influential, science fiction books See all my recent book and movie reviews at

  2. says:

    Kurt Vonnegut said of Arthur C Clarke s novel Childhood s End that it is one of the few masterpieces in the science fiction genre Vonnegut went on to say that he, Vonnegut, had written all the others As humorous as that is, at least the first clause of that declaration I feel to be true Written simply but with conviction and persuasion, with an almost fable like narrative quality, Clarke has given to us that rarest of literary achievements a science fiction masterpiece The genius of Clarke s achievement is compounded by the fact that his accomplishment remains so unique, how have later artists failed to match or even make an attempt at duplication I especially liked the racial memory or racial premonition ideas and the ideas of collective consciousness Interestingly, Clarke s concepts could be seen as having a theological transcendent theme, perhaps even an allegory for awakening to a collective ego Clarke s ingenuity remains untouched and this work stands atop the science fiction canon, comparable to only a handful of other science fiction classics, including the novel that won the Hugo Award in 1954, the same year Childhood s End was nominated for that award, Ray Bradbury s Fahrenheit 451.

  3. says:

    I ve done a lot of odd jobs over the years At one point, back before I got my degree and I was still working to put my wife through school, I worked as a delivery driver for a company that sold construction supplies 50 lb boxes of powdered Kool Aid, portable generators, hammers, safety harnesses, 2x4 s, circular saws It was one of those barely above minimum wage jobs generally populated by people who for whatever reason find themselves unable to get anything else and competing against a large number of similar people where the decisive advantage is often no than you show up everyday My colleagues were an interesting mix an ex door gunner on a SOCOM gunship, a teenage kid dreaming of rapping his way off the street, the musician whose real job was Jazz and who d played everywhere in N awlins, a bow kneed redneck that could still remember fondly when racism was acceptable but couldn t manage to make his hatred stick because he didn t really believe it, and the black racist ex boxer would be preacher who once told me with an apologetic smile that white people couldn t get into heaven because they had no souls One of my colleagues was an aging chain smoking gray haired country boy missing half of his teeth and so learning disabled as to need my help with basic addition.He probably knew about literature than many of the professors I ve had, or at the least he was interesting to talk to and his opinions were less rote I found this out after he came in one day aglow after seeing Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon He absolutely needed someone to talk about the experience with, and by that time I was unable to hide the fact that I was an egghead so I was probably the only person he knew that was qualified Turns out, he d lived a rather interesting life He was fluent in Spanish and had spent his youth working construction on hotels up and down the Central and South American coasts And, he d read everything As I came to realize that this redneck knew something about books, despite as best as I could tell never completing high school, I started inquiring into his tastes What I found remarkable was not so much that he d read everything I d ever read and then some, but that on those things we d both read he shared much of the same opinion At some point in one of the conversations Arthur C Clarke came up, and he said, Well, I liked 2001, but I really think that Childhood s End is his real masterwork Not only do I agree, but I lack the ability to give a better recommendation.I don t recommend the works of Clarke in general, and certainly not to anyone who isn t a fan of science fiction His works even the better ones always suffer from seeming to be short stories turned into novels He also displays a strange combination of fascination with but complete incuriosity towards religion and spirituality that can probably be infuriating at times to the religious and non religious alike But this work rises above its defects and is well worth your time.

  4. says:

    you think you re so fucken smart, don t you mark ha, think again all your little plans and goals, your little community of friends and family and colleagues, your whole little life what does it matter in the long run not a whole fucken lot grow up.take this book for example a classic of the genre, written by a classic author you thought you knew what you were getting into you ve read countless examples of the type you sure are a well read little scifi nerd, aren t you for the first half, maybe longer, you were right a well crafted central character, flavorful supporting characters, intriguing aliens, a spicy mystery to solve it was all laid out as expected and the pleasures were of a familiar sort when the mystery of the aliens appearance was solved, you were a wee bit surprised but it was a comfortable sort of surprise it s not like it blew your mind it was clever but everything up until then was as you expected well fucking Congratulations, chump, your predictions came half true you want a medal you don t get one there aren t any half medals there are some fucking spoilers that follow you weren t expecting what came after those revelations came out of the blue for you, didn t they you didn t expect to be made to feel so small, to get a little depressed, to have your expectations pounded all to pieces it was kinda beautiful in a way, kinda mind blowing but mainly it was fucken sad oh you poor baby you have your own private little dreams of widespread empathy and the future of children and the future of humanity and our future place in the world and at the most secret, sentimental heart of you some corny spiritual post life higher consciousness transcending type shit you didn t expect that to be a part of the novel, did you you didn t expect it to all come out, be laid out on the page like a body in a morgue, your body, and then just get eviscerated your dreams of some sort of future beyond this present, where you are still you, a wistful dream that you like to think is both delicate and profound like one of those origami things you like to do what s your favorite one a pinwheel well you get to watch that pinwheel of a dream get smashed and turned inside out and torn up into bits revealed as a typically naive and childish fantasy ha so much for that grow the fuck up, chump.

  5. says:

    I read this long ago, just when I was becoming a teenager and my tastes were changing, you might say I read it at childhood s end When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 1 Corinthians 13 11 But we cannot do this without the help of our parents and teachers view spoiler and politicians Well some of them A few One or two, you know hide spoiler

  6. says:

    As a sci fi fan, I ve been trying to go back and read some of the classics and it s been interesting.The book manages to have some very captivating concepts while being quite tedious to read.The book felt dated when mentioning POC and women which, while not surprising, did still take me out of the story at times.Overall I m glad I read it, at least I can consider that an achievement as I look at all the top 100 sci fi books to read in your lifetime type of lists but, contrary to popular opinion, I don t think it s something you must read If you re curious go for it If you re not feeling it, it s fine to skip it.

  7. says:

    Theological PoliticsFor an avowed atheist, Arthur Clarke had a great deal to say about God, and not all of it negative Childhood s End is a tale of the theological roots of politics and how religious belief simultaneously stimulates and inhibits human society Clarke s view is subtle, complex, and appropriately cosmic As a commentary on the centrality of religion to human existence for its opponents as well as its adherents Childhood s End is hard to beat.If I read Clarke correctly, his view is that God is not the product of frightening illusion but of loving emotion God is the idea we use to describe the wholly irrational but irresistibly compelling force of human affection Fear is merely a derivative emotion brought about by the threat of loss of affection, not something positive, therefore, but an absence of love The force of love is invisible, immaterial, unmeasurable, enacted everywhere and at all times but it is, without any doubt, real What Clarke does in Childhood s End is provide a voice for such philosophical realism.Love in all its forms sexual, familial, communal, special, and inter special is only minimally an instinct, that is a motivation or drive Rather it is a learned ability, a capacity which increases with experience and practice Childhood s End opens with conflict moves to feelings of trust and friendship by one individual towards a powerful alien and develops, under alien direction which is effectively omniscient and omnipotent into general peace and harmony among all of humanity The capacity to love evolves over a century such that personal jealousy has disappeared, crime is almost unknown, involuntary or oppressive human toil has been eliminated, economic abundance and equality have been substantially achieved In other words paradise has arrived Love is also a metaphysical condition That is, it cannot be demonstrated to be beneficial, or even to be at all, except through a commitment to it It is self validating just as its antithesis, fear, is self validating Love and the world is loving fear and the world is fearsome The alien Overlords bring the whole of humanity to the metaphysical revelation of love through their tutelage and discipline Only when love has been created as a reality can it be perceived and appreciated as a reality This is a metaphysical paradox which is known to the Overlords, but must be demonstrated by human beings to themselves But the stars are not for man, the Overlord Supervisor proclaims Human beings are not sufficiently competent in the skills of love to include anything outside their rather insignificant world They may never be They are therefore denied by the Overlords in the name of love the knowledge which would allow them to travel to distant worlds This constraint is annoying and incomprehensible to many, mainly scientific types not unlike the prohibition of eating from the Tree in the Garden And the Supervisor could foresee the consequences, just as the book of Genesis had described a loss of the Golden Age of innocence view spoiler But it is not the scientists who are the first to rebel The trouble starts among creative types artists, actors, film producers, writers, musicians They feel cheated because they have nothing to struggle against Without an other, they say that society has lost the ability to be creatively imaginative So they club together in an isolated sub culture to reverse the trend, as they see it, of people becoming passive sponges absorbing banal popular culture Led by a Moses like figure, the artistic inhabitants, appreciate the peace and ease of their world but still feel it is inadequate.So according to Clarke s story, the half life of metaphysical appreciation is extremely limited Love and its effects are easily taken for granted We are a thankless species in our search for , better, adventure or just something different The skills of love can be lost within a generation The absence of love spreads like a virus among a society s children, creating a new species through a sort of Lamarckian mutation The consequences are catastrophic It was the end of civilization, the end of all that men had striven for since the beginning of time In the space of a few days, humanity had lost its future hide spoiler

  8. says:

    If science fiction usually treads the fine line between mere speculation and actual scientific feasibilities, then Arthur C Clarke can be accused of taking a cosmic leap of faith into the realm of highly unrealistic speculation, in this book.For at least 75% of the narrative, I remained largely clueless about where the story was heading and for the remaining 25% I couldn t help but roll my eyes at the ludicrousness of it all Aliens, who are referred to by a fancy name like Overlords eyeroll to boot, come down from a distant galaxy in the universe and establish their rule over Earthlings Earth transforms into a kind of utopia in a hundred years during which disease, poverty, hunger, crimes, social inequality, threat of nuclear wars are permanently eliminated thanks to the diplomacy and benevolence of the Overlords And then comes the shocker or the real reason for the Overlords colonizing our cherished planet turns out the almighty Overlords are no than mere agents in the service of an even higher form of intelligence called the Overmind eyeroll who seek to tap into the reserves of metaphysical power of the mind of man and help mankind transition into the next stage of evolution.Don t bother trying to make sense of that last part It didn t make much sense to me either and I generally keep an open mind while reading science fiction And what happens at the end sounds way ridiculous that what I wrote for the sake of this review In his effort to explore a subject like existential crisis why are we here what is the meaning of life and ponder on phenomenon Science has still not been able to explain convincingly enough, Clarke has taken a tumble into the abyss of sheer absurdity Not even willing suspension of disbelief helped endear me to your theories Mr Clarke view spoiler Mankind s purpose of existence is to birth an ultimate generation of not very human children with potent psychic powers insert eyeroll who achieve a sort of communion with the Overmind was this Clarke s euphemism for God and get to be one with the Universe While their progenitors eventually die out, thereby, wiping out the last of the human species as we know it Huh hide spoiler

  9. says:

    If you re into stuff like this, you can read the full review.The Silent Ships Childhood s End by Arthur C Clarke No one of intelligence resents the inevitable In Childhood s End by Arthur C ClarkeOne of my favourite long novel is Childhoods End , but commenting on it without revealing the ending is difficult That is the whole point after all, but still, think the early 80 s TV mini series series of V with Jane Badler as a seriously sexy, sociopathic alien think they really were benevolent and took humanity to generations of peace and prosperity Well, not exactly many generations

  10. says:

    This is a strange and beautiful novel Written in the early 1950s some 15 years before 2001 A Space Odyssey , it is, with Asimov s overrated Foundation, Bradbury s superb The Martian Chronicles and a few others, one of the significant works of sci fi s Golden Age Oddly enough, apart from a few plot irregularities and the outlandish author s naivety regarding the paranormal and the occult, Arthur C Clarke s story does not feel a day older The plot, based on a few episodes scattered in time as in 2001 , has some unexpected twists and turns it is not easy to talk about it without giving the game away Let s say that it starts with a situation that, since this book, has become commonplace in SF literature and film alien UFOs descend from space and park themselves over the major cities on Earth a vision inspired by the barrage balloons Clarke had seen hovering above London during the Blitz in 1941 However, there is neither destructive attacks cf The War of the Worlds, V, Independence Day nor strange signs coming out of these spaceships cf Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Arrival Stories of Your Life In this instance, the aliens bestow utopia upon humanity Later on, after a few leaps forward in time and through the generations, we will understand how this new heaven on Earth was humanity s swan song.Arthur Clarke s style as that of many other SF writers of the day is explicit, plain, nondescript, almost flat He manages nonetheless to make his story perfectly lively and suspenseful But the real masterstroke of this novel is indeed the ending, in which, as we witness the last moments of our planet, the story takes a genuinely Dantesque and sublime dimension, evocative of the majestic and unfathomable vistas into the future imagined by Olaf Stapledon in Star Maker and Last and First Men, or by Teilhard de Chardin in Le Ph nom ne humain This is the essence of a true masterpiece in its genre.Quite recently, Syfy released a four hour miniseries, based on Arthur Clarke s novel, which I have still to see As someone prophetically says in the novel, it has become a full time job keeping up with the various family serials on TV Edit Just watched the Syfy TV show mentioned earlier It is, roughly speaking, true to the structure of the novel three episodes, one for each section of the book, and a plotline that thins down but doesn t deviate too much from Clarke s vision The imagery is reminiscent of Kubrick 2001 , Spielberg Close Encounters and Carpenter Village of the Damned However, the screenwriters have obviously considered appropriate to elaborate on the main characters love lives Stormgren, Rodricks and Greggson, in particular and indulged in a melodramatic tone that, unfortunately, bogs the whole thing down.