Thursday, April 30, 2015

Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke

(pb; 1953)

From the back cover:

"The last generation of Mankind on Earth.

"Without warning, giant silver ships from deep space appear in the skies above every major city on Earth. They are manned by the Overlords. . . mysterious creatures from an alien race who soon take over control of the world.

"Within fifty years, these brilliant masters have all but eliminated ignorance, disease, poverty and fear. Then suddenly this golden age ends. . . and the end of Mankind begins!"


Review:

Childhood's End is a superb, thoughtful and genre-engaging (and often off-beat) take on the end of the human species. It spans a hundred years of the fictive last days of our kind, with some surprising -- sometimes disturbing, sometimes warm -- turns and notions (as illustrated and voiced by characters, Overlords and men), often spiced with Clarke's wry humor. There is little physical violence shown in Childhood, though it is mentioned in passing, so those looking for action-flick science fiction should look elsewhere.

Those who have read Clarke's Space Odyssey quadrilogy may spot Childhood's plot and thematic similarities with the those books (though the two storylines possess distinctive and entertaining variables). This adds -- for this reader, at least -- to the zest of Childhood: it reads like an author having good-natured fun with a previously published theme. That said, this is not (directly) linked to the Space Odyssey series.

This is an excellent novel, one worth owning.

#

The resulting three-episode miniseries is scheduled to air on the Syfy television channel in 2015.  Nick Hurran directed it, from a teleplay by Matthew Graham.

Charles Dance played Karellen. Mike Vogel played Ricky Stormgren. Ashley Zukerman played Jake Greggson. Jacob Holt played "Young Jake". Lachlan Roland-Kenn played Tom Greggson. Hayley Magnus played Amy. Benedict Hardie played Vindarten.

Colm Meaney played a thus-far unspecified character.

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