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Childhood's End
by Arthur C. Clarke
Without warning, giant silver ships from deep space appear in the skies above every major city on Earth. Manned by the Overlords, in fifty years, they eliminate ignorance, disease, and poverty. Then this golden age ends--and then the age of Mankind begins....
 
Clarke has the science of Asimov but can write prose as pretty as Bradbury's. This book contains some poignant passages and images which will probably resonate with you for the rest of your mortal existence. This classic work will shift your worldview and, somehow, make you both look forward with anticipation as well as abject fear of humanity's possible future.

Topic: 
      Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (1 of 58), Read 71 times 
 Conf: 
      Reading List 
 From: 
      Steve Warbasse wk4@qwest.net 
 Date: 
      Tuesday, August 07, 2001 02:36 PM 


I can recall reading one science fiction work in my life. I did
read Dune somewhere between 1976 and 1980. Dune
qualifies, doesn't it? I read several of The Martian Chronicles
by Edgar Rice Burroughs when I was a youngster. That is
more in the genre known as "fantasy" though, is it not? Oh,
shoot! I forgot the other Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury.

In general though, I dunno. Brilliant but socially inept loners
with spectacle lenses like the bottoms of coke bottles;
pocket protectors filled with multi-colored pens and
mechanical pencils; gape-mouthed with moist, protruberant
lower lips; sitting around dreaming up goofy shit and
recording it in the most egregiously stultified prose. And a
bunch of geek readers going gaga over the great gizmos.
"Oh, wow! Neato!" 

Gawd. Perish the thought.

Which brings me to Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke. This
is a startling little book. Not stylistically. Not by virtue of the
characterizations. Not for any of the reasons most of us
read fiction. Well worth the time though. I think it has as
much of importance in it as, say, Brave New World by Huxley.

I will say nothing of substance about the story since the
inaugural date for the discussion is still eight days away. As
he has demonstrated in all of his endeavors, this Arthur C.
Clarke is obviously scary brilliant. He is off the charts.

I don't mean to say that the book is a difficult read. Quite
the contrary. I mean. . . .well, those who undertake it will
see what I mean. It has to do with the copyright date.
1953.

Steve


Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (22 of 58), Read 45 times Conf: Reading List From: Daniel LeBoeuf dan1066@yahoo.com Date: Saturday, August 11, 2001 06:53 PM In a recent printing of this novel, Clarke states in the preface: I have therefore decided to bring the narrative forward into the next century, and was halfway through this task when, on the 20th anniversary of Apollo 11, it was announced that Mars is now one of the goals of the United States space programme. I confess this makes me edgy--how much did he update? While he could have kept his social arrangements (that was a utopia envisioned by others as well as him), he may have added the oral conceptive and DNA paternity in to just provide support to one of his main themes. I hate to question one of my favorite writers, but let's make sure he was prescient and not gifted with enough longevity to tinker with his work over the years. The idea of "updating" just bothers me immensely. Ooooh, I don't like it, don't like it at all... Dan It's OK--they're all smoking!
TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (23 of 58), Read 44 times Conf: Reading List From: Ian Marks comfortably_numb@ecosse.net Date: Saturday, August 11, 2001 06:56 PM I finished it the other day. I know what my initial reaction is. Be interesting to hear those of others. Ian TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (24 of 58), Read 41 times Conf: Reading List From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Saturday, August 11, 2001 07:07 PM By "updating" do you mean that there are editions that differ from each other, Dan? I have 1953. A pretty good year, I think. Ruth, Canoga Park High School, Winter '53 "Nobody belongs to us, except in memory." John Updike TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (25 of 58), Read 45 times Conf: Reading List From: Dick Haggart Date: Saturday, August 11, 2001 08:19 PM I have a new edition, specially for this reading, and it says only Chapter 1 has been modified -- chiefly, if I recall correctly, by inserting a reference to Armstrong on the moon and something about the Mars exploration program. And, without getting to the story, I was interested by the cover blurb that calls Clarke "the greatest living science fiction author". Even allowing for editorial hyperbole, I think he clearly ranks way up there by most measuring standards. Given that, what does this say about science fiction as a literary genre? Can it be said to be literary in any substantial sense at all? Dick "you have to sing your own song in the end." -- John Updike "which is fine, so long as you don't have to mow your own lawn." -- Dick Haggart TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (26 of 58), Read 46 times Conf: Reading List From: Lynn Isvik washualum@yahoo.com Date: Saturday, August 11, 2001 09:19 PM Gee, Ruth, I always thought 1953 was special for another reason... it was the year of my debut on this earth :-) Lynn TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (27 of 58), Read 42 times Conf: Reading List From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Saturday, August 11, 2001 11:09 PM I finished this today and really hope y'all can clear up some points for me. There was quite a bit I did not understand, but I can't get more specific without spoiling the story for those who haven't finished. Beej TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (28 of 58), Read 43 times Conf: Reading List From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Saturday, August 11, 2001 11:10 PM I was born in '53 also. I have the '53 edition. There is no preface but on the page with the publication details (does it have a name?), I noticed a brief disclaimer, "The opinions expressed in this novel are not hose of the author." This raises the question: whose are they? TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (29 of 58), Read 43 times Conf: Reading List From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Saturday, August 11, 2001 11:14 PM Dean , I have the '53 edition, too, but it doesn't say that in mine. I wonder why it was added. Beej TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (30 of 58), Read 42 times Conf: Reading List From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Saturday, August 11, 2001 11:16 PM Thanks, Beej. This is very curious. TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (31 of 58), Read 42 times Conf: Reading List From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Saturday, August 11, 2001 11:23 PM Dean, I just did a quick search on Clarke to see if there was any controversy over the contents of this book at the time of original publication, but didn't find anything. This is really puzzling. Beej TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (32 of 58), Read 49 times Conf: Reading List From: Lynn Isvik washualum@yahoo.com Date: Sunday, August 12, 2001 12:13 AM The prologue to the newer printing (1990) answers that question. Clarke says "When Childhood's End first appeared, many readers were baffled by a statement after the title page to the effect that "The opinions expressed in this book are not those of the author." This was not entirely facetious; I had just published The Exploration of Space and painted an optimistic picture of our future expansion into the Universe. Now I had written a book which said "The stars are not for Man," and did not want anyone to think I had suddenly recanted." Lynn TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (33 of 58), Read 52 times Conf: Reading List From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Sunday, August 12, 2001 12:27 AM Thank you, Lynn. That was really bothering me. TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (34 of 58), Read 40 times Conf: Reading List From: Dottie Randall randallj@ix.netcom.com Date: Sunday, August 12, 2001 02:49 AM Ruth -- I had read the first bit of this before tangling up in McCarthy and so read it again from the first -- I struggled through the first few pages -- and slowed down in Part Two again -- but finished Part Two last night -- into the homestretch! Keep reading. Just when I think I see an indication of where this is going -- it shifts again. Dottie ID is an oxymoron! TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (35 of 58), Read 42 times Conf: Reading List From: Dottie Randall randallj@ix.netcom.com Date: Sunday, August 12, 2001 07:06 AM Well -- got up and started in on the last section -- Jim has departed on his own for the 25th Anniversary Sanicole International Airshow -- and I had polished this off before he left shortly after noon here. I'm waiting patiently -- and will try to digest some of this before discussion begins. And - Steve - I think this is the only true science fiction I've ever read. I could be proven wrong but I do know sci-fi labeled works are not high on my exploration list. I even meant to get hold of Dune and read it with Jonathan and CR folk here -- and then didn't - tsk-tsk. Dottie ID is an oxymoron! TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (36 of 58), Read 47 times Conf: Reading List From: Sherry Keller shkell@starband.net Date: Sunday, August 12, 2001 07:14 AM It was hard to read this book without keeping a kind of scorecard. *He got that one right. *That one is a little off. *Boy, did he get that one right. The one that he really got wrong was religion. Since things were being explained by The Overlords scientifically, then religion's hold on people's mind and imagination was weakened. I don't think that Clarke foresaw that element of religious fanaticism that rejects scientific explanations by saying "that's the devil's work." Or was religion doing that in 1953, too? Sherry TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (37 of 58), Read 39 times Conf: Reading List From: Candy Minx Date: Sunday, August 12, 2001 11:02 AM It depends on which religion you are asking about Sherry. I know there are a few religious factions that do believe that science is the work of the devil. And some of them are archaic religions. Some are recent like the quakers, but I am not sure if all say devil. now devil as opposed to evil? Or unacceptable? I could guess by devil then you mean particular Christian religions. ???? but most Christians benefit and enjoy all the results of science/military. So much of our daily lives comfort is from inventions and off shoots of science and military discoveries. TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (38 of 58), Read 40 times Conf: Reading List From: Sherry Keller shkell@starband.net Date: Sunday, August 12, 2001 12:08 PM I guess several religions have their version of this phenomenon, but an example of what I'm talking about is this: my parents' religion does not believe that dinosaurs really existed because 1) they are not mentioned in the Bible, and 2) their dates do not correlate to the number of years ago their "scholars" say that Earth was created. They believe that dinosaur bones were placed on Earth by the devil to create a lack of faith. Now I don't think that having the Overlords prove stuff would have made them any more rational. Rationality doesn't enter into some people's beliefs. So that part of Clarke's prediction hasn't come about. Sherry TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (39 of 58), Read 43 times Conf: Reading List From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Sunday, August 12, 2001 12:11 PM Why I may throw in the towel on this one is the writing. It's pretty awful. TomSwiftian in some places, she said, menacingly. And the dialog is as stilted as a bad 1940s movie, she said, grouchily. People don't converse, they give speeches, she said, crabbily. Ideas may be interesting, but if they're not couched in good prose, they're a chore to read,she said, sadly. Ruth "Nobody belongs to us, except in memory." John Updike TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (40 of 58), Read 43 times Conf: Reading List From: Sherry Keller shkell@starband.net Date: Sunday, August 12, 2001 12:14 PM Maybe I have no taste, she said optimistically, but I enjoyed it. I used to read books like this a lot, so I guess what you call stilted language just goes over my head. Sherry TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (41 of 58), Read 43 times Conf: Reading List From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Sunday, August 12, 2001 12:30 PM I admit that the older I get, the fussier I get. Ruth "Nobody belongs to us, except in memory." John Updike TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (42 of 58), Read 43 times Conf: Reading List From: Sherry Keller shkell@starband.net Date: Sunday, August 12, 2001 12:39 PM Try to overlook the writing, because I'd be really interested in seeing what you think of his ideas. Sherry TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (43 of 58), Read 45 times Conf: Reading List From: Lynn Isvik washualum@yahoo.com Date: Sunday, August 12, 2001 12:40 PM I think that religion is just one area where Clarke tends to gloss over or treat lightly some very major cultural changes. In fact, he doesn't spend all that much time explaining how the earth went through the major changes it did between the arrival of the Overlords and the time of Jan, Rupert, the Greggsons, etc. Lynn TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (44 of 58), Read 49 times Conf: Reading List From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Sunday, August 12, 2001 02:12 PM In a radio interview, Clarke said that he was not religious, yet Overmind, seems to me to be a version of God. He contradicts himself within the novel as well. On the one hand, he tells us that Jan "knows" that NGS 549672 is the home of the Overlords without having been there to confirm it. Yet, he makes a point of confirming every one of Jeff's dreams with the empirical observations of Rashaverak to Karellen. Dean Tempus optimus doctor est. Male, omnes discipulos semper interficit. TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (45 of 58), Read 51 times Conf: Reading List From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Sunday, August 12, 2001 03:20 PM Dean, I saw the Overmind as a version of God too, and even, for awhile, thought perhaps Jean was a modern version of Mary, George of Joseph and Jeff of Jesus. Beej TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (46 of 58), Read 34 times Conf: Reading List From: Ian Marks comfortably_numb@ecosse.net Date: Sunday, August 12, 2001 04:33 PM >>Dean, I saw the Overmind as a version of God too<< Dean & Beej ~~ This never entered my head. I must be thick. Ian TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (47 of 58), Read 27 times Conf: Reading List From: Jane Niemeier jniemeie@hotmail.com Date: Sunday, August 12, 2001 08:59 PM Dan, The edition of the book that I read is from 1953. I got it at our school library before summer break (which is over tomorrow, by the way - boo hoo!). The passage about the oral contraceptives and the testing of paternity is in this edition. Clarke forgot about teenagers when he wrote that this would do away with unwanted pregnancies. He forgot about raging hormones and not thinking beyond the next 10 minutes. If you ask a pregnant girl why she didn't practice birth control, she will probably say that it takes away the romance. Ha. Jane TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (48 of 58), Read 25 times Conf: Reading List From: Sherry Keller shkell@starband.net Date: Monday, August 13, 2001 07:03 AM Jane, I think that ties in with the religion, in a way. Clarke expected people to act rationally with the proper knowledge. Sherry TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (49 of 58), Read 25 times Conf: Reading List From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Monday, August 13, 2001 10:40 AM Interesting that he had all creative activity screech to a halt. Yet at the same time people were more educated than ever, and took classes all their lives. I always thought these kind of went hand in hand. I finished last night. My overall perception of the book is that the writing is pedestrian. The plot picked up in the middle and I got really interested, then when the touchy-feely stuff came in, I zoned out. Ruth Ruth "Nobody belongs to us, except in memory." John Updike TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (50 of 58), Read 19 times Conf: Reading List From: Sherry Keller shkell@starband.net Date: Monday, August 13, 2001 11:23 AM I think he may have had a point about the creativity. Since there was no adversity in people's lives, they may not have felt compelled to be creative. Things were taken care of for them. This may not always happen, but I do think it's human nature to look for new solutions to problems, or to be expressive in new ways, when they bump up against insoluble problems. Sherry TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (51 of 58), Read 20 times Conf: Reading List From: Dottie Randall randallj@ix.netcom.com Date: Monday, August 13, 2001 11:24 AM There was touchy-feely stuff in there? Hmmm -- did I blink? You can elaborate on that later for me if you will, please. I think I agree that it was somewhat pedestrian but the ideas are intriguing. I'm digesting a bit before jumping in on this one. Dottie ID is an oxymoron! TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (52 of 58), Read 21 times Conf: Reading List From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Monday, August 13, 2001 11:27 AM Well, what do you call it, Dottie? All the stuff about the Overmind, and ESP and the 'greater consciousness.' You know that always brings out my eye-glazing propensities. :) Ruth "Nobody belongs to us, except in memory." John Updike TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (53 of 58), Read 22 times Conf: Reading List From: Dottie Randall randallj@ix.netcom.com Date: Monday, August 13, 2001 11:34 AM Oh -- THAT stuff -- I don't know what I call that stuff -- but yeah -- it sometimes makes my eyes glaze over, too, though I am more open to it than some people (not indicating you here, Ruth -- honestly not) because I've had some odd experiences myself -- I tend to define my experiences and the conclusions I have reached concerning them "spiritual" and this other stuff including much para-normal mumbo-jumbo and reincarnation and past lives and such -- is something "other". I think lots of pop psychology falls into this touchy-feely arena and is worth zilch. Okay -- later. Dottie ID is an oxymoron! TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (54 of 58), Read 22 times Conf: Reading List From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Monday, August 13, 2001 11:38 AM Did anyone else catch the reference to Flatland? When the kid is zipping around in his 'dreams?' I'm wondering if the other worlds/universes/whatevers he 'visited' were also references to famous fictional places. Maybe some of the sf readers here can help me out. And Sherry, I agree that some creativity has to do with practical problem-solving, but don't you think that much of it, particularly in art/music/lit, has to do with exploring the human psyche, and our place in the world/universe/humanity, etc? Ruth "Nobody belongs to us, except in memory." John Updike TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (55 of 58), Read 13 times Conf: Reading List From: Dottie Randall randallj@ix.netcom.com Date: Monday, August 13, 2001 12:19 PM Geez -- I sounded flip there -- wasn't my intent at all, at all -- I guess touchy-feely to me is always sort of the knowing yourself and I'm OK You're OK and stuff like that while these other things fell into a general para-normal umbrella -- and I do, as I said, have a different category for spiritual experiences which others can and do lump in with the para-normal stuff. Maybe some people would say I'm fooling myself with that approach -- I don't really believe I am. I read and reread all those dreams of Jeffrey's wondering the same thing sort of -- trying to make the descriptions and the experiences fit into things read or heard in conjunction with para-normal and other fields over the years. Of course, the chance I'd read or paid any attention to anything which may have served as a model for Clarke's segments on Jeffrey's dreams is remote since this was published when I was in the third grade and precocious reader though I was -- I wasn't reading Clarke's Childhood's End then {G} nor studying paranormal current events and so forth! Dottie ID is an oxymoron! TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (56 of 58), Read 10 times Conf: Reading List From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Monday, August 13, 2001 12:27 PM You missed my point, Dottie. I wasn't trying to connect the paranormal gobbledegook with anything I've read. I was wondering about the locations Jeff went to in his dreams. Flatland posited a world in which everything was 2-dimensional, no 3rd dimension existed. When Clarke has Jeff 'visit' such a world, I presumed it was a direct homage to Flatland, which was written in the late 1800s. So I was wondering if any of the other places Jeff went to in his dreams were also references to other famous SF locations, which I might not have recognized. Ruth "Nobody belongs to us, except in memory." John Updike TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (57 of 58), Read 3 times Conf: Reading List From: Dottie Randall randallj@ix.netcom.com Date: Monday, August 13, 2001 12:45 PM Okay. But those "dreams" weren't really dreams in this story -- they were para-normal time travels into other worlds -- so I guess I'm not following why the locations would necessarily be non-para-normal -- Obviously Flatland was not a very "real" place in the sense of our own world. I still wonder along with you about the other locations and experiences being in other works as you suggest. Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (58 of 58), Read 7 times Conf: Reading List From: Steve Warbasse wk4@qwest.net Date: Monday, August 13, 2001 12:39 PM I made a valiant attempt to warn everyone about the nature of this writing in the first note: This is a startling little book. Not stylistically. Not by virtue of the characterizations. Not for any of the reasons most of us read fiction. Well worth the time though. I think it has as much of importance in it as, say, Brave New World by Huxley. I used the word "fable" earlier in reference to this book, and I'm sticking with that. As a fable it's worth arises out of it's conception not its execution. The conception was brilliant, I thought. I'm not so sure that he was so far off on the religious angle, Sherry. There were actually two things at work here--not only the rational scientific approach but also, the fact that life had been made so easy. One of the major reasons for religion is as a psychological strategy for dealing with the difficulty of life, is it not? This idea was also related to the loss of creativity, too. A small aspect of the story that interested me was the physical form assumed by the Overlords. Apparently, they had given a great deal of thought to how they should best appear to humanity. They came up with a form that looked very much like a cartoon Devil--little horns, a tail with a point, etc. What's with that? Steve TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (49 of 83), Read 86 times Conf: Reading List From: Dick Haggart Date: Monday, August 13, 2001 01:03 PM I didn't get that the Overlords were created in the satanic image specifically for service on earth, but rather that they had been selected for this duty because of their evolutionary short-comings (they couldn't transcend to the 'next level'), and that ancient humans, through some unspecified kind of ur-consciousness, had developed foreknowledge that when these hoofed, winged, horned critters arrived, humanity would be in big trouble. From this racial fore-knowledge, the entire web of superstition and religion about the devil, etc. arose: kind of a mental Klein Bottle, if you will (which is how time-travel, or as here, 'out of time consciousness' always tends to work out, in my opinion). Anyway, I hadn't read this book in at least 35 years, probably more and was amazed at how unimpressed I was by it here in the late summer of my years. As various folks have noted the writing is painfully uninteresting and the characterizations non-existent -- all is sacrificed on the altar of 'big and imaginative ideas'. When I was a kid, that was a sufficient basis not only to entertain, but to mesmerize. Unfortunately, it no longer is. I was put in mind of the literary device of deus ex machina during this reading --the plot device where some unexpected, completely out-of-the-blue event rescues a character in peril or resolves some apparently insurmountable problem. The term is taken from the old Greek plays, where a god would, literally, be lowered from the ceiling into the middle of a play (via lifts or pulleys -- hence 'machine'), there to make mischief or a miracle, but in any event to appear as 'god from machine' and turn human events on their ear within the play. There is much deus ex machina going on in Childhood's End, and, in the end, it seems to me that in this case (and in much sci-fi generally) the device has essentially become the entire story itself: one startling revelation after another, essentially unconnected by character or plotline development, except as they exist within the various, serial miracle events. And, as Steve noted way back up there: no sex. No wonder the human race died out. Dick "you have to sing your own song in the end." -- John Updike "which is fine, so long as you don't have to mow your own lawn." -- Dick Haggart TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (50 of 83), Read 102 times Conf: Reading List From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Monday, August 13, 2001 02:32 PM Dottie, I know those 'dreams' were supposed to be paranormal travels. My question had nothing to do with that idea. My question had to do with Clark's having paid homage to earlier SF writers by making the descriptions of the worlds Jeff 'visited' match descriptions in earlier SF works. So, can anybody help me with this? Is there homage to other SF "worlds," or did Clark just plan steal Flatland? Ruth "Nobody belongs to us, except in memory." John Updike TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (51 of 83), Read 102 times Conf: Reading List From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Monday, August 13, 2001 02:54 PM And Dick, you did a pretty good job in summing up the book. Ruth "Nobody belongs to us, except in memory." John Updike TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (52 of 83), Read 106 times Conf: Reading List From: Steve Warbasse wk4@qwest.net Date: Monday, August 13, 2001 03:11 PM Dick, I think our somewhat differing reactions to the book are the result of the very different expectations we brought to it. My expectations were low as low can be, and I ended by being entertained. You have refreshed my recollection about the form taken by the Overlords. You're quite right. There was discussion of time bending around in a circle in connection with this racial memory thing. As for me I am not ready yet to make the mental move from Möbius Rings to Klein Bottles, however. The thesis that man is in no way adequately equipped for space I thought was pretty fascinating. Even more interesting though was the twist put on the traditional Christian ideas about the end of the world and ultimate union with God. The Revelations thing. In the Christian scheme there will only be a small elite who are resurrected and then taken to God's bosom--the saved. However, there is a human logic to that. At the end of Clarke's world there is a small elite who are melded into the Overmind's mind--the children. Everyone else is left to oblivion. There is a more cosmic than human logic to that, which seems to comport better with other cold cosmic phenomenon that we have already observed. The Overmind is blithely unaware of our piddly little human ideas of justice. Steve TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (53 of 83), Read 108 times Conf: Reading List From: Steve Warbasse wk4@qwest.net Date: Monday, August 13, 2001 03:18 PM I admit that the high end Ouija Board plot device was a little weak though. Steve TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (54 of 83), Read 115 times Conf: Reading List From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Monday, August 13, 2001 03:56 PM Is this fable trying to tell us that reasoning will make the world boring and that one-mindedness, which I took to be believing, will destroy us and the world? Jan, then, becomes the ideal having found a meaning for his life as the mediator between the two. Dean In all knowledge there is error. In every belief there is a wish. TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (55 of 83), Read 61 times Conf: Reading List From: Jonathan Metts jonathan@planetgamecube.com Date: Monday, August 13, 2001 05:11 PM I read this book back in the spring, after Dale recommended it so highly. I wasn't as impressed as some of you were, but I wasn't as disappointed as others. It was very much in tune with the other bit of Clarke I've read...2001: A Space Odyssey. Bold, sweeping ideas and concepts; bland, lifeless storytelling. Kubrick had the good fortune of Clarke's ideas and his own directing talent, which is why the 2001 movie is so damn great and well-rounded. I would've liked to have seen a film version of this book as well. The most interesting part to me was the secrecy around the Overlords' true form, and then the unveiling of it after all those years. I thought Clarke handled it all pretty cleverly, and I certainly never would have thought to make aliens look like Satan. ;-) Anybody know where Dale is? I know this is one of his favorite books... Jonathan Published daily at PlanetGameCube.com TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (56 of 83), Read 59 times Conf: Reading List From: Dick Haggart Date: Monday, August 13, 2001 05:12 PM The idea that technological development will cause either a holocaust or the decline of humans into indolent lotus-eaters has been a regular theme in sci-fi from H.G. Wells to Robert Heinlein (and undoubtedly subsequently, since early 70's Heinlein is where I pretty much gave up on the genre). Generally speaking, sci-fi is not a medium for the consideration of the middle-ground of possibilities, although there are exceptions. I'm thinking here of the famous Dick novel (not me, the other one) Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? which was ultimately made into the movie Bladerunner and Neuromancer by William Gibson, to name two very famous examples. Dick "you have to sing your own song in the end." -- John Updike "which is fine, so long as you don't have to mow your own lawn." -- Dick Haggart TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (57 of 83), Read 45 times Conf: Reading List From: Ian Marks comfortably_numb@ecosse.net Date: Monday, August 13, 2001 05:58 PM >>As various folks have noted the writing is painfully uninteresting and the characterizations non-existent<< Dick ~~ Phew! Thank goodness I'm not alone! Could I just add that, on the evidence of Childhood's End, Clarke just cannot write dialogue. Ian TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (58 of 83), Read 50 times Conf: Reading List From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Monday, August 13, 2001 09:16 PM I have a question..what was the purpose for including Stormgren's kidnapping? I just don't see what it had to do with any of the story. Beej TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (59 of 83), Read 48 times Conf: Reading List From: Dick Haggart Date: Monday, August 13, 2001 09:34 PM The entire Stormgren portion of the story is a bridge to get you from the 'Look out! Flying saucers!' point to where the real action commences. The kidnapping allows some room to explore the capabilities of the saucer-people and kind of build the tension about what their real intentions may be. It also gives a slightly right-wing jab at underground, secret movements (recall how the 'real' leaders of the underground are compared to post-revolutionary Leninists) in opposition to wise and provident central authority -- not too surprising in a book written as the McCarthy-style hysteria was beginning to really get going in the United States. The message: perilous times, call for a firm hand from above, and wise leaders to administer that firm hand. Americans of 1953 would respond well to such a message, particularly since we were undergoing our own saucer invasion at the time. Dick "you have to sing your own song in the end." -- John Updike "which is fine, so long as you don't have to mow your own lawn." -- Dick Haggart TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (60 of 83), Read 48 times Conf: Reading List From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Monday, August 13, 2001 09:57 PM Ahhhh..okay, I see. Thanks, Dick. Also, if everything was so ideal, why was New Athens created? There is no more ignorance or disease or poverty, and yet people seem so deeply unsatisfied. The New Athens guide says: "The reasons (for this dissatisfaction) are obvious. There's nothing left to struggle for." By this time the world had become placid. Nothing new was being created. Wasn't that the true death of humanity? Beej TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (61 of 83), Read 42 times Conf: Reading List From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Monday, August 13, 2001 11:17 PM There is sooo much I just don't understand and feel dumb for asking, but I will anyway. Was the Overmind's existence dependant on assimilating these minds? I mean, if he didn't do this, would he (it?) perish? And if not, why was it happening? Does the book tell why? if so, I missed it. (not a rare thing for me to do.) Beej TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (62 of 83), Read 40 times Conf: Reading List From: Dick Haggart Date: Monday, August 13, 2001 11:20 PM Social Darwinism is being saluted here , I think. Fairly popular in the sci-fi I read and recall. Again, related to the major underlying theme of the age in 1953: in capitalist societies, the citizens advance by competitive effort and the ablest and most capable rise to the top. If there is no contest, if the struggle is eliminated, society will sink into stagnation. Cf. 'Worker's Paradise'. That was certainly not Clarke's express message, but I think it was a major part of his implied message, not because he intended it so much, but because it was an integral part of the social milieu in which he was writing at the time. Dick "you have to sing your own song in the end." -- John Updike "which is fine, so long as you don't have to mow your own lawn." -- Dick Haggart TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (63 of 83), Read 42 times Conf: Reading List From: Dick Haggart Date: Monday, August 13, 2001 11:24 PM Beej: Your last question slipped in there. I don't think the question you ask was addressed at any level I can see by Clarke. I'd just think of the 'overmind' like one of those giant Whale Sharks on the Discovery Channel -- cruising along, sucking up all the little plankton and fish along the way, and with a mental process about as fathomable. And we readers are like the divers in those programs -- swimming along side, stroking the flanks of the great beast and muttering "Gee, whiz!" through our mouthpieces, but not really having much of a clue about what's really going on. Dick "you have to sing your own song in the end." -- John Updike "which is fine, so long as you don't have to mow your own lawn." -- Dick Haggart TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (64 of 83), Read 41 times Conf: Reading List From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Monday, August 13, 2001 11:48 PM Thanks again, Dick. This is really beginning to fascinate me. Beej TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (65 of 83), Read 41 times Conf: Reading List From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Tuesday, August 14, 2001 11:14 AM I kept wondering why the Overlords weren't stagnating and, as a result, dying as a civilization, since they were no longer creating or evolving as a species. And then I went back and re-read a little bit toward the end. Karellen tells Jan the Overlords are captive to the Overmind, that they have no choice. But they still have a dream of someday being released from this captivity. So they watch and study what has happened, in hopes of discovering a clue that will free them. So they are not mere puppets and are definitely not stagnating..They are fighting for the survival of their species. Beej TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (66 of 83), Read 38 times Conf: Reading List From: Steve Warbasse wk4@qwest.net Date: Tuesday, August 14, 2001 12:05 PM Please don't be bashful about questions concerning the layout here, Beej. I confess that I was a little fuzzy on the whole situation with the Overlords and the Overmind, too. Steve TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (67 of 83), Read 29 times Conf: Reading List From: Jonathan Metts jonathan@planetgamecube.com Date: Tuesday, August 14, 2001 04:50 PM I got the impression that the Overmind isn't a conscious collective being that goes around sucking up species, but rather the final destination of these various species (except the Overlords). When the humans matured to a certain extent, they left their bodies and joined the Overmind naturally...I don't think the Overmind was just passing by and decided to scoop us up before moving along. This was going to happen...it was always going to happen. It was the destiny, the future of our race, as long as we didn't destroy ourselves first (which is where the Overlords came in). Jonathan Published daily at PlanetGameCube.com TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (68 of 83), Read 31 times Conf: Reading List From: Steve Warbasse wk4@qwest.net Date: Tuesday, August 14, 2001 05:36 PM Excellent, Jonathan. Thank you. And again, what Clarke has done is put a frightening twist on the traditional and comforting Christian view of our ultimate resurrection and union with the Big Guy Upstairs. Steve TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (69 of 83), Read 31 times Conf: Reading List From: Dick Haggart Date: Tuesday, August 14, 2001 05:51 PM I think I saw it more as a version of physical evolution than of purely religious transfiguration, but I could well be misreading. Was the Overmind the end-all, be-all as suggested by Jonathan? I don't recall that being stated expressly; I thought it was kind of open-ended, with the possibility that "it's Overturtles, all the way down!" All I got was that the Overmind was the 'next level', but not that it was necessarily the 'last level'. Possibly not important to the overall story, one way or the other. Dick "you have to sing your own song in the end." -- John Updike "which is fine, so long as you don't have to mow your own lawn." -- Dick Haggart TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (70 of 83), Read 33 times Conf: Reading List From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Tuesday, August 14, 2001 06:00 PM Dick, it sounds like physical evolution can lead to a non-physical state which seems to me to be self-contradictory. Dean Tempus optimus doctor est. Male, omnes discipulos semper interficit. TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (71 of 83), Read 32 times Conf: Reading List From: Dick Haggart Date: Tuesday, August 14, 2001 06:15 PM Certainly the Overmind was non-physical relative to, say, clog-dancing or playing the accordion, but did the book actually say that it was some kind of spiritual being, or did the description just kind of drift off into non-specific 'mental energy/pure intellect' areas at least by implication? To me, the former description implies a religious angle, the latter merely an unknown process which may or may not involve the physical, perhaps at a level not yet understood. Occam's Razor would, on that basis, tend us toward the (unknown) physical process solution. Dick "you have to sing your own song in the end." -- John Updike "which is fine, so long as you don't have to mow your own lawn." -- Dick Haggart TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (72 of 83), Read 29 times Conf: Reading List From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Tuesday, August 14, 2001 07:29 PM Well, if the Overmind is coming, count me out. Ruth "Nobody belongs to us, except in memory." John Updike TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (73 of 83), Read 28 times Conf: Reading List From: Dick Haggart Date: Tuesday, August 14, 2001 08:20 PM Geezers need not apply, Ruth. But you'll have plenty of us around for company. Which reminds me of one of the odder prognostications in Childhood's End --namely, that the adults, when finally confronted with the loss of their children and the end of the species would choose to exit in a flash of nuclear fire, rather than expiring of old age or perhaps taking a pill. Kind of an act of nuclear vandalism, which I thought reflected both the horrified fascination people had with nuclear explosions in those days as well as demonstrating how far from "environmentally sound" the world of 1953 was. While humanity was done for, it wasn't clear (at that juncture) that the rest of the planet was doomed as well, so the choice of something messy and radioactive as an exit line seemed, well, odd to me. I'm trying to remember here, so please help me out: was there any reference in the book to living things other than (a) humans and(b) aliens of one stripe or another? While I scanned some parts rather hurriedly, I can't remember a single critter that didn't arrive from outer space. Another small point, but the lack of such homey touches made the story kind of barren to me. I always like a dog or a cat in a story. Dick "you have to sing your own song in the end." -- John Updike "which is fine, so long as you don't have to mow your own lawn." -- Dick Haggart TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (74 of 83), Read 11 times Conf: Reading List From: Edward Houghton eddh@pacbell.net Date: Tuesday, August 14, 2001 11:08 PM DICK No animal? The dog's name was Fey. He belonged to the boy, Jeff. Jeff's transformation is seen through the eyes of Fey. "...And Fey would sit watching, looking up at him with tragic puzzled eyes, wondering where her master had gone and when he would return to her." and later when Jeff is boarding the ship supplied by the Overlords, the reactions of Fey are used to amplify the story. "...The great doors began to close. And in that moment Fey lifted up her muzzle and gave a low desolate moan. She turned her beautiful eyes toward George, and he knew she had lost her master. He had no rival now." EDD TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (75 of 83), Read 29 times Conf: Reading List From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Tuesday, August 14, 2001 08:22 PM Oh, boy. Now I really am confused. I thought the Overmind had been assimilating the minds of various civilizations throughout the galaxies for eons. It was just Earth's turn. I also saw the Overmind as a purely spiritual entity, but didn't it 'suck up' the children's bodies at the end? I think its pretty obvious that I haven't read a lot of sci-fi..not that I'm against sci-fi, but I think I'm trying to logically reason out something that's not logical. Beej TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (76 of 83), Read 31 times Conf: Reading List From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Tuesday, August 14, 2001 08:24 PM Dick, Jeffrey did have a dog... Beej TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (77 of 83), Read 26 times Conf: Reading List From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Tuesday, August 14, 2001 09:26 PM Dont' forget the African animals, let alone that poor elephant. Oh, and the undersea stuff. Was that a nuclear explosion, Dick? I thought it was the volcano blasting off. But I admit, by that point I was skimming. Ruth "Nobody belongs to us, except in memory." John Updike TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (78 of 83), Read 26 times Conf: Reading List From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Tuesday, August 14, 2001 09:30 PM DICK says: "I think I saw it more as a version of physical evolution than of purely religious transfiguration." That's the way I remember it. Think of the story in terms of "What is the future of the human race?" Posit that Clarke wants to (a) answer the question in something less than the evolutionary time-frame we know, and (b)doesn't want the answer to be religious. Ergo: it is our manifest, built-into-our-genes destiny, to reach the Overmind state, which is a part of the physical, galaxy-ridden universe we have overlooked until now (then) and won't discover until the Overlords hand us the keys. Why do you think American capitalism is investing so much money in bio-technology ? FOR CANDY: By way of an answer to your question about my take on religion : I don't have any. I think it is good that religion (generic) serves so many people in dealing with our day-to-day world. I think it is bad when a religion wants to drag me kicking and screaming and tithe paying before the Lord. I think no religion possesses absolute truth, since religions are a human construct, not a divine construct. I think the ending of Childhood's End is a cop-out because the answer - the future of the human race - is provided by a god-in-the-machine, a solution that is an authorial construct, only acceptable if you swallow the fictions leading to it. Which is not to say that I don't sometimes enjoy the fictions. But I prefer the blur in my vision to be rheum rather than wool. Whew. pres delicate things on feet and wings Are all worn out. TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (79 of 83), Read 31 times Conf: Reading List From: Jane Niemeier jniemeie@hotmail.com Date: Tuesday, August 14, 2001 09:31 PM Beej, I got the impression that the children's bodies were transformed to pure energy and then the energy was sucked up by the Overmind. It (the Overmind) seems like a greedy sort of god. Jane TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (80 of 83), Read 31 times Conf: Reading List From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Tuesday, August 14, 2001 09:45 PM Oh! Okay..thanks Jane. I don't know why I am having such difficulty with this book. I really had the impression the Overmind needed to do this to survive. Maybe that's why he was so greedy. Beej TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (81 of 83), Read 24 times Conf: Reading List From: Dick Haggart Date: Tuesday, August 14, 2001 10:33 PM Thanks for the update on the animals; must have skimmed that part. And, I think it was an atomic explosion -- something about two pieces of uranium coming together and the 'island rising to meet the sky'. Sort of a 'The dawn came up like thunder' touch there. For some reason, I'm signing on and missing a substantial number of intervening posts -- what shows as 'new' is in fact only the tip of the ice-berg. Sorry if I've missed responding or reacting to a post, but for whatever reason I'm not seeing all the new posts. Dick "you have to sing your own song in the end." -- John Updike "which is fine, so long as you don't have to mow your own lawn." -- Dick Haggart TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (82 of 83), Read 26 times Conf: Reading List From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Tuesday, August 14, 2001 10:37 PM Well said, pres. I found the fictional preparation for the climax contrived and self-contradictory. A.C. seems to be pandering to the desire in humans to be considered special. Either that or he really believes that even though we may meet ET's we're the "chosen" ones. This is more wishful-thinking-fiction than science-fiction. If he is trying to indicate some ideal future, he misses the mark as far as I'm concerned. The loss of individuality which he describes makes the prospect of apotheosis very unappealing. I'm with Ruth. If the Overmind is non-physical then it cannot interact with the physical. This implies that there is something in humans which is non-physical. This is another thing which humans like to hear. They like it so much that many fail to see the contradiction. Dean Tempus optimus doctor est. Male, omnes discipulos semper interficit.
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (83 of 83), Read 5 times Conf: Reading List From: Candy Minx Date: Wednesday, August 15, 2001 06:46 AM Interesting Pres. Thanks for your time. Are you saying you don't tithe PERIOD! I'm shocked. Not even ten percent in a non-religious motivation? What's the world coming to, oh right hell in a hand basket. heh heh. go on share ten percent you can do it! Not for god, but for fun!!!!! Trust me it is super fun! Um, I thought that this was a observation of how the mind works in our culture. For better or for worse. Sure lots of people aren't into god, but the SAME function exists for other passions. some people manifest these functions via their belief in the trendy "creation myth" we all call science. And a heck of a lot of people believe in art. I thought this novel was a kind of evaluation of our cultures attitude. I think Dean hit on something or someone did, that idea "it's in our genes". I relate this to EO> Wilson...he is a gene pioneer and he pretty much says all our behaviour can be traced to genes. Wilson rejects religion because it is "unscientific".I felt this novel was emulating that kind of explanation, that much of our behaviour was from genes---ish, okay? What I found interesting about it is that it seems to hint that even an attitude to adopting religion or treating ascience or anything new within a matrix of religiouslike fervor was in "in our genes" or "destiny" and the concept of "chosen" can be a metaphor for "genes". And I always think it's funny that EO. Eilson, the great naturalist and science brain has never come up with the idea that religion might be "in our genes" he says there is a gene for everything, why not a gene for religious passion. Even after god died(heh you know what I mean) we tend to approach our activities and life and our belief in science or literature or spouse(look at all those self help books for marriage!) as our new religions. TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (84 of 88), Read 36 times Conf: Reading List From: Steve Warbasse wk4@qwest.net Date: Wednesday, August 15, 2001 02:43 PM My take, Dick, was that the Overmind was not spiritual (in the sense that I use the term anyway) but rather that "non-specific 'mental energy/pure intellect'" deal you refer to. Either way though, why do you leap to the conclusion that the Overmind could not have played the accordion if it were so inclined? Steve TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (85 of 88), Read 35 times Conf: Reading List From: Dick Haggart Date: Wednesday, August 15, 2001 03:58 PM Fat fingers, my friend, fat fingers. They've been the curse of the Haggart family, too. Dick "you have to sing your own song in the end." -- John Updike "which is fine, so long as you don't have to mow your own lawn." -- Dick Haggart TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (86 of 88), Read 38 times Conf: Reading List From: Steve Warbasse wk4@qwest.net Date: Wednesday, August 15, 2001 04:10 PM Ah, I see. I myself leaped to the conclusion that if it were so inclined, the Overmind could simply suck the concept of an accordion into its mind and rip off a perfect rendition of "Lady of Spain," fat fingers or no and without even practicing. Steve TOP |
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (87 of 88), Read 34 times Conf: Reading List From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Wednesday, August 15, 2001 04:43 PM This Overmind business sounds a little like the Jungian collective unconscious, taken to the extreme. Ruth "Nobody belongs to us, except in memory." John Updike
Topic: Childhood's End: Arthur C. Clarke (88 of 88), Read 29 times Conf: Reading List From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Wednesday, August 15, 2001 09:40 PM DANIEL nominated CE for this reading. CRs, looking to fellow members for new (or loved familiar) reading experience, chose it. I was particularly interested in the choice because I had read the book, remembered it fondly over a period of years, and wondered what it would seem like today. If I had known that it was DANIEL'S choice, I would have been even more interested, because I appreciate the way his mind and personality, and particularly his enthusiasm, works. I don't think it was unfortunate that the book came to stand for a genre in the discussion that grew out of it. For myself, the discussion churned up a mess of ideas. I still wonder if there isn't perhaps a legitimate consensus as to what "literary" means or if any and every usage will always be subjective - and meaningless. P.S. Note, CE has not yet been nominated for Classic Corner. (How does any book make it over there ?) pres, (my genre is mine mine mine!) delicate things on feet and wings Are busy finding work to do.

 
Arthur C. Clarke
Arthur C. Clarke

 
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