Childhood's End

  • by Arthur C. Clarke
  • Narrated by Eric Michael Summerer, Robert J. Sawyer - introduction
  • 7 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The Overlords appeared suddenly over every city - intellectually, technologically, and militarily superior to humankind. Benevolent, they made few demands: unify earth, eliminate poverty, and end war. With little rebellion, humankind agreed, and a golden age began.But at what cost? With the advent of peace, man ceases to strive for creative greatness, and a malaise settles over the human race. To those who resist, it becomes evident that the Overlords have an agenda of their own.As civilization approaches the crossroads, will the Overlords spell the end for humankind...or the beginning?BONUS AUDIO: Includes an exclusive introduction by Hugo Award-winning author Robert J. Sawyer, who explains why this novel, written in the 1950s, is still relevant today.


What the Critics Say

"In Eric Summerer's capable hands, the plot of Childhood's End is smoothly presented and fully credible. He highlights the patient nature of the Overlords, which has caused humans to become ever more complacent. Summerer excels at delivering the aliens' quiet and intensely engaging dialogue with people. His nuanced performance creates a growing feeling of uneasiness in the listener as the Overlords' insatiable curiosity and watchfulness begin to suggest something less than benign at work." (AudioFile)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Food for Thought

Great dialogue and deeply-drawn characters were never Arthur C. Clarke's strengths. Instead, what makes him an all-time great are his IDEAS. And CHILDHOOD'S END is as good a novel of ideas as sci-fi has seen. The story is somewhat simplistic: a powerful alien race descends upon Earth and dominates the peoples of the planet, ostensibly for their own good. Earth, essentially, accedes to the Overlords - and a Golden Age ensues. But Man's ultimate fate is not necessarily the one we'd choose for ourselves. This was an especially resonant theme for the 1950's, when the Nazi threat of WWII was a fresh experience - and the Cold War loomed. But it's no less urgent a message for today.

The book does take a while to get going, and the latter half is far more satisfying and better written. (Thankfully, Eric Michael Summerer's narration more than makes up for the sluggish pace early on.) If some of the characterizations and technology seem archaic, that's actually perfectly consistent with the story - after all, the immediate impact of the Overlords' rule is that Mankind stops advancing - technologically, artistically and spiritually. The world of the future remains the world of the 1950's.

In a contemporary author's hands, the same story would be told with more elegant prose. But the ideas are as fresh as ever - and CHILDHOOD'S END gave me much to think about.
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Bittersweet... Mind boggling.... Eye opening....

I just finished listening this book, did so under the request of a friend of mine. This is a sci-fi classic and with this being my first sci-fi novel really I must say I am impressed of course but... to say this is bittersweet is an understatement if you ask me.

The narration is not super great but it is adequate enough. I found it a bit laughable when he tries to voice the children but he was able to describe the feeling well enough. His tone and voice is poignant enough to keep your attention, It could have been better, but it could have been worse of course.

The word I would use most to speak about the story itself is... bittersweet. While listening to the book I was intrigued all the way, which speaks well of both the story and the narration but as the book closed I started getting a bit... saddened as to how I saw it ending. I won't ruin the story for anyone but you will understand when you get there. It does have some very interesting points, makes one truly wonder about the fate of humanity in a sense and I must confess I remember having my own theories regarding alien existence which is akin to this... but I does end on a bit of a sad note if you ask me.

For my first sci-fi novel, it really does a good job to me about representing the genre, I will say out-right though that this might not be my cup of tea, but it was well done. Decent narration, great concept story-wise but a bittersweet ending.
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Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-28-2008
  • Publisher: Audible Studios