Arthur C. Clarke, you clever fiend! (Childhood's End spoilers)

So I’m reading Childhood’s End, and, as the Sophisticated Connoisseur of Contemporary of Speculative Fiction, I am of course way ahead of the charmingly quaint Sir Arthur. The Overlords have visited Earth in the past, have they? Yawn. Yes, of course I see what’s coming.

Ah, yes, here we are, the Great Unveiling. “They [a boy and girl] were too busy playing with Karellen’s wings to take any notice of the watching multitude.”

Uh huh. Angels. Very clever. Perhaps this was JMS’s inspiration for the Vorlons? Clarke came first, of course, and I’m sure it was very shocking and revelatory for the niave readers of the early days . . . but for the modern student of science fiction, this is nothing special . . .

Then I was completely blind-sided by, "There was no mistake. The leathery wings. . . "

At this point, I howled with delight. Oh, Mr. Clarke, you devil!

The book’s been delightful. Why didn’t someone make me read this ages ago?

p.s. I know I said “spoilers” in the title, but don’t spoil it for me . . . I’m only about halfway through.

Be warned, when I finished the book sleep did not come well to me.

Heh. So far…

This is cool, there are actually people out there who love this book as much as I do! You’ll remember the ending for a very long time.

I remember reading and re-reading this part, over and over again. I just couldn’t understand (or, perhaps, accept) what it meant. It all became clear, of course, when I got to the end…

No kidding. I was incredibly unnerved by that book.

Chapter 20 made me cry.

So…I’m the only one who thought that it had a happy ending? (Overall…the lives of the specific characters were somewhat bleak, but, well…the end as a whole…)

As I remarked in another thread just a day or so ago, even though [BChildhood’s End** is supposed o be classic, I’ not terrificaly fond of t.

Incidentaly, the opening section appeared as a short story, long before the book CE came out. It’s reprinted in the collection The Sentinel.

Childhood’s End is still my favorite Clarke novel, though there are days when I think I might like Rendezvous with Rama better.

If you are still enthralled when you finish it, Podkayne, consider tracking down one of Clarke’s inspirations: Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon. If your local library doesn’t have it, consider requesting it through interl-library loan.

Hmmm . . . now I’m even more intrigued. :slight_smile:

Knead, we do have a copy of First and Last Men. My husband aquired it because a friend put him on to it . . . something to do with Lovecraft, if I recall correctly?

This is just killing me. Podkayne, finish the bleeping book already, so we can discuss the bleeping ending!

Podkayne, do you mean Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon? Here’s a note from

Pretty good summary, IMHO. Read it next!

I’m not looking! I’m not looking! I’m not looking!

I’m bumping this thread. I saw it a couple of days ago and I wanted to post to it so I could find it easier later. I’m reading Childhood’s End right now, but you shalt not spoileth for moi! So there.

Um…that’s it. I guess I’ll post more in a few days.

I hated the ending to that book. Hated, hated, hated, hated, hated. Bad, bad, bad, evil, stupid ending. :stuck_out_tongue: Curse you Arthur C, and your little dewlap, too.

It’s about my favorite Clarke novel, actually. The surprise of the appearance of the Overlords was spoiled by my reading ‘Barlowe’s Guide to Extraterrestrials’ before reading the novel (it had an artists depiction of an Overlord).

The ending creeped me out too.

I agree with Tengu - it is a happy ending. Sort of. (Except for the Overlords, of course…) It’s also - I’ll try not to spoil it for anyone - one of the best and most explicit depictions of the notion of “transcendence”, which some critics and writers (Maureen McHugh springs to mind) claim is central to science fiction.

Dunno why some of you seem to have took against it. Perhaps once Podkayne and Enderw24 have finished it, we can have a proper discussion?

(And Podkayne - Stapledon and Lovecraft? The mind boggles… Er, basically, they’re not related, except sometimes HPL, in his more cosmic-immensity and science-fictional moods, verges on Stapledon territory - but he lacks Stapledon’s broad vision and intellectual rigor. IMHO.)

Even though I know it’s technically a happy ending, it still made me really uncomfortable for a few days. I’m not planning on reading it again, but not cause it’s a bad book :).

Oh. My. God.

Well, damn, now we can’t talk about it until Ender’s finished.

FTR: I found it deeply, profoundly sad.

Fabulous book. Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous. All must read. I shoved it into my husband’s face as soon as I finished it this morning and said, “You will read this.”

Gotta admit, I rejected that ending the same way I would reject a surprise piece of okra in a sandwich.


But I really dig a lot of Clarke’s other stuff. Lady Chance got me that massive TOME of every non-novel story he ever published. I’ve been plowing through it sporadically for 9 months now and there’s STILL an enormous amount ahead of me.