Childhood's End

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Childhood's End is a 1953 science fiction novel by Sir Arthur C. Clarke. The story follows the peaceful alien invasion of Earth by the mysterious Overlords, whose arrival ends all war, helps form a world government, and turns the planet into a near-utopia. Many questions are asked about the origins and mission of the aliens, but they avoid answering, preferring to remain in their ships, governing through indirect rule. Decades later, the Overlords eventually show themselves, and their impact on human culture leads to a Golden Age. However, the last generation of children on Earth begin to display powerful psychic abilities, heralding their evolution into a group mind, a transcendent form of life.

Clarke's initial idea for the novel began with the short story, "Guardian Angel" (1946). This story later formed the basis for "Earth and the Overlords", the first part of the book, with Clarke expanding the story into a novel in 1952. Along with The Songs of Distant Earth (1986), Clarke considered Childhood's End one of his favorite.[1] Science writer Steven J. Dick calls the book "a classic of alien literature".[2] Childhood's End is generally considered Clarke's best novel by both readers and critics.[3]

Director Stanley Kubrick was interested in a film adaptation of the novel in the 1960s, but it wasn't available. Instead, Clarke and Kubrick collaborated on 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), a film that features similar themes to Childhood's End. Clarke's interest in evolution and transcedence are attributed to the influence of British author Olaf Stapledon. The BBC produced an original, two-hour radio dramatization of the novel in 1997. The book was later nominated for the 2004 Retro Hugo Award for Best Novel.


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