Thursday, January 21, 2010

StampReview | Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke

Over at Of Blog of the Fallen, Larry issued a challenge to read a book written before 1960 and give a review. I thought this was a great idea and began to scour my shelf for some older stuff, but kept finding books from the ‘70s and almost gave up until I found Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke.

Like the only other Clarke novel I’ve read, Rendezvous with Rama, even though Childhood’s End was written decades ago (and in this case over half a century), Clarke has the amazing ability to create a future that is still believable and just as interesting as I’m sure it was when it was first written.

mmpb - 218 pages
Publisher - Del Rey
First Publication Date - 1953

Earth is on the cusp of entering into space, when space comes to earth. Out of nowhere come what the people of Earth begin to call the “Overlords”. People quickly learn that nothing can be done about them and the fact that everyone is subject to their will. This, however, is not necessarily a bad thing. Immediately, the standard of living goes up, wars stop, and people have much more free time (the average work week even shortens to 20 hours a week).

Thus enters the first ethical dilemma; is it better to be free or live in a world where peace and prosperity abound? Most of the world accepts the rule, though they really have no choice in the matter, while a few factions continue to fight for freedom. Add to this the fact that the Overlords refuse to divulge their intent and only refer to themselves as guardians of the human race.

I have to say I enjoyed Childhood’s End from start to finish. The story evolves quite a bit and the ending half of the book is much different than the beginning while losing nothing of the story. I do have to warn you not to read the blurb on the back of the book (at least my 1978 printing) because it gives away some events that don’t even occur until the end, which I was waiting to happen from the beginning.

Who should read this?

If you are in the mood for a philosophical novel that doesn’t seem so at first glance, Childhood’s End might be for you. This is a quick read with a surprisingly interesting end.

3/5 Stars

3/5 Stars for the Cover



  1. Sounds interesting, though I am glad of the warning against the book cover's own blurb. That is a bit annoying when they give away things.

  2. Haha, I know. I just kept waiting and waiting and couldn't believe it didn't happen until the end. :( Good book though.

  3. I have this book and have been considering reading it, especially since I haven't read anything yet by Arthur Clarke, but the copy I have doesn't have any blurb on the back so I had no idea what it was about. Thanks for the review. I think I'll be reading this one soon

  4. I liked Rendezvous with Rama a lot more just so you know, but they're quite a bit different. Clarke is pretty good if you can get past the stiff prose.

  5. I need to join this challenge! First, I am old enough to have bookshelves filled with "old" books and I love to rewind and re-read!

    Thanks for bring back memories with this book. Excellent review!


  6. the back cover sounds like so many movie trailers now a catch all the good stuff watching that and then are somewhat let down by the rest.

  7. Sounds like a challenge perfectly suited to my classics-heavy bookshelves!

    This sounds like a really interesting book. I love when sci-fi goes philosophical (Which is a lot of the time) and makes you think.

  8. @Cym and Michelle, That's exactly what I thought when I took the challenge, plus I loved Rendezvous with Rama. Great stuff. You need to get on it!

    @Colleen, that's so true. I almost don't want to watch movie trailers anymore, but then again I probably won't watch any movies without them. Quite the Catch-22. :)


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