“Childhood’s End” by Arthur C. Clarke

– a well-stocked mind is safe from boredom;

How does one even begin to describe this book? I suppose I should take the edge off by saying that if, by some reason, you own a copy but have yet to read it, this is your sign to pick it up right now.

It is the third novel that falls under the category of Science Fiction I ever read and it is definitely one of the most well-written and incredibly profound books I have read during the last month. It left me pleasantly numb, in that odd way that makes one simultaneously feel physically drained and mentally challenged.

So far, I think I’ve made my point clear: “Childhood’s End” is a book that gets you thinking.

But what is it about?

Well, it’s science fiction. Of course there are aliens and spaceships.

However, the astounding thing about this novel is the way it goes vehemently against the Sci-Fi stereotype. The extraterrestrial elements are far from stealing the spotlight. With a refreshing change, the book focuses on what happens with humanity when it’s faced with the large cultural shock of alien encounters.

One of the things I’ve first noticed about “Childhood’s End” is the amazing way it’s written. Arthur C. Clarke’s writing style was definitely the thing that entranced me into this read. For that reason alone, this novel is a must-read.

Let’s look at some (spoiler-free) quotes that carry quite the heavy meaning. When placed in context, they hit very close to home.

“Jan had always been a good pianist- and now he was the finest in the world.”

Now, I cannot comment on it, since I want my review to be as spoiler-free as possible, but this is a quote that gave me shivers. A few other emotionally charged quotes (mind you, these aren’t chronologically listed) would be:

“No one of intelligence resents the inevitable.”

“It is a bitter thought, but you must face it. The planets you may one day possess. But the stars are not for man.”

I see this as a crucial quote because, while it appears somewhat early in the novel, it relates to something much bigger by the end. The way everything ties up by the end is mind-blowing.

“We have had our failures.” Yes, […] that was true: and were you the one who failed, before the dawn of human history? It must have been a failure indeed […] for its echoes to roll down all the ages, to haunt the childhood of every race of man. Even in fifty years, could you overcome the power of all the myths and legends of the world?”

“Detachment was all very well, but it could change so easily to indifference.”


In all fairness, until the curtain started its metaphorical rise, I thought the book was mediocre to good. However, when everything tied together, I had to admit, hands down, that this novel is absolutely stunning.

While it does start with the stereotypical science fiction elements, it develops into so much more. It grows to approach a question I’ve never seen addressed during any of my reads: what happens when you take individuality from mankind?

It definitely brought new dimensions to the way I perceived certain things. For me, it was one of those books that radically changed my perspective. It was a wholesome experience that I definitely recommend for anyone.

These are my thoughts (as spoiler-free as I could manage) on Arthur C. Clarke’s ‘Childhood’s End’! Let me know if you’ve read it (or if I succeeded to convince you to do so) and feel free to share your own thoughts! However, do be mindful of other readers and add a spoiler alert, if it’s needed.

Thank you for reading!

Andrea.

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

  1. ProxySci-fi says:

    If you likes this you may like The last question by Isaac Asimov, it’s a very short story but still very interesting.

    Like

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