Submitted by SterlingR3d t3_z7szoc in books

I don’t remember where it was that I heard this book by Arthur C Clark mentioned but I am so glad I read it. It was entertaining all the way through and the way he writes about “Indescribable” experiences was so perfect.

I’ve always loved Weird Fiction but have a hard time finding books or stories I feel do it right. So many authors either go way into detail and ruin the mystery and impossibility of a thing or simply write something like “it was beyond words”.

Once again Childhoods End by Arthur C. Clark was excellent and I think a perfect example of describing the indescribable.



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bill_b4 t1_iy7zze5 wrote

I have yet to read ANYTHING by Arthur C. Clarke I did not enjoy


jlnxr t1_iy8khtd wrote

The collabs with other authors I enjoyed less. Rendezvous with Rama? Excellent! Rama II? Ok...ish... The other two books (with names that escape me)? Didn't enjoy them. But they were basically not written by him. Likewise, I wasn't a huge fan of the series he did with Stephen Baxter either.

Any stand alone work he has done that I have read has been good though. Ranging from "a solid novel" (i.e. The Hammer of God) to "true masterpiece" (Childhood's End, Songs of Distant Earth, Fountains of Paradise, etc.). The entire Odyssey series is also worth reading, although IMO 2001 and 2010 are heads and shoulders better than 2061 and 3001. .

I think though as time goes on and I reflect on these books I read first as a teenager, Childhood's End increasingly stands out as something unique even amongst his other excellent works.


winwaed t1_iy8rrvy wrote

The 'golden era' authors all got huge book advances in the 1980s to persuade them to write books. Quality suffers (see Asimov's later Foundation books). Imho 2010 was the last decent book Clarke wrote. Of course most of those later books were collaborations and it seems he discussed ideas with the co-author but did little more.

I wouldn't have classed Fountains of Paradise as a true masterpiece but it is >30 years since I last read it. Perhaps time for a re-read (my opinion of Songs of Distant Earth improved with a re-read).

I definitely agree with your last paragraph- Childhood's End increasingly stands out as his best book.


knnn t1_iy979sb wrote

Do you mean 2010? I am not aware of any book by Clarke named 2020.


winwaed t1_iy97eo2 wrote

Yes 2010 - damn phone typo! (Fixed)


jlnxr t1_iyaervq wrote

> I wouldn't have classed Fountains of Paradise as a true masterpiece but it is >30 years

I enjoyed it but it has been ~10 years for me so perhaps I am also due for a re-read.


shantridge t1_iy9kimk wrote

Rama II was such a poor sequel I couldn't get through the first like 30 pages.


DenOfIsolation t1_iy9eh77 wrote

I actually enjoyed The Light of Other Days, mostly because it made me think for days after I completed it. (Which, by my measure, is a sign of a good book.)

Granted, it was written almost completely by Baxter, but it was based on a synopsis by Clarke. I suspect that’s where the “thought provoking” came from, but that isn’t to disparage Baxter’s writing. I’ve genuinely enjoyed quite a few of his books.


wolfie379 t1_iy9jds0 wrote

“The Hammer of God” is a short story by G.K. Chesterson. Why are you referring to it as a novel by Clarke?


SterlingR3d OP t1_iy80i3z wrote

I have yet to read any of his other works yet but I want to give them a chance. The issue is I know he worked on/with the film 2001: Space Odyssey and I did not enjoy any part of that film


bill_b4 t1_iy82qbx wrote

Oh...I'm jealous because you have the opportunity to read this book for the first time and I enjoyed it so immensely, I was sad to finish: Arthur C. Clarke - The Collected Stories. It is a compilation of many of his short stories, including "Guardian Angel", on which Childood's End was based. I know what you're saying about the movie 2001...but I wouldn't blame your distaste for it on Arthur C. Clarke. After reading Childhood's End, you can see he was a prolific, thoughtful and entertaining writer, a fact I think will be solidified as you read his short stories.


charizardzard t1_iy81edz wrote

I’d say that the book is better than the movie, you understand more of what’s happening and why. So give the book a try if you want, or read some of his other books. My favourite is The Songs of Distant Earth, gets even better with the “soundtrack” made by Mike Oldfield.


venusofthehardsell t1_iy8eqww wrote

Give 2001 a try, things are explained a lot better than you saw in the movie, and it’s a set up for 2010 which is awesome. If you don’t like it ACC has many other books I’m sure you’ll find something you enjoy.


EldaJenkins t1_iy8s2gk wrote

I can't stand the movie version, but I adore the book. Give it a try. There are a few story differences between the two, as well, so it won't be the exact same as the movie.


whynotfather t1_iyb6o8b wrote

The time odyssey series is really entertaining. I read that and the childhoods end. Obviously written decades apart but both fascinating world building.


MaichenM t1_iy81daq wrote

This is my favorite Clarke novel, and it holds up remarkably well. With all the bad news about humans making critical mistakes with their world, I needed it.


scobsdoo t1_iy884i7 wrote

Try "The City and the Stars". Written in 1948 under the original title "Against the Fall of Night", its his first work and contains some amazing ideas including massively multiplayer VR games, AI, stellar engineering, animated holographic art and other concepts waay ahead of their time.


nrnrnr t1_iyaqphu wrote

They are actually two different tellings of the same story. I own a hardcover edition that combines Against the Fall of Night with The Lion of Comarre. That was first. The City and the Stars came later when he wanted to tell the story at greater length. In the intro to my hardcover Clarke is clearly bemused that some people prefer the earlier version. (I am one of them.)


scobsdoo t1_iycn43t wrote

I read City first, so naturally preferred that version as it fleshes out the detail more. When I first read it over 30 years ago I thought "cool ideas", but re-reading more recently it occurred to me that computers had only been in existence for a couple of years when he wrote it, and yet he was already thinking in terms of AI and immersive shared VR environments. Amazing


PlatosCaveSlave t1_iy9ifg8 wrote

Ooo this all sounds fascinating! Thanks for the reading inspiration!


stereoroid t1_iy80un0 wrote

Clarke (with an e) is all about the big ideas, even if the execution can be a little clunky at times. I enjoyed the Childhood's End miniseries adaptation a few years ago, but you could tell that major changes in characterisation etc. had to be made to make it work on screen.

Clarke had a warped sense of humour too e.g. the physical appearance of the Overlords (which I won't spoil) is simultaneously a nod to human history and mythology and a big middle finger to Christian sensibilities and to religion in general. I could say that about the whole book (mild spoiler): religion could not and does not survive in the face of a far grander but weirder reality.


Rezangyal t1_iy8bea6 wrote

Religion and faith both serve as stopgaps to explain the unknown. Childhood’s End does a great job at end capping the utility of both in favor of… well… “childhood” ending and the exploration of deeper unknowns and mysteries beginning.

Awesome story and awesome characters.


I_Speak_For_The_Ents t1_iyb9rpn wrote

I bought the series immediately, and I have to say, the opening is everything I dreamed it would be.
Theres a bit of cringe so far, but nothing terrible.


Tanagrabelle t1_iy81hrf wrote

It's darned good.

Liking it meant that I appreciated so many scenes of the recent mini-series.

It also meant I was furious with a few of the stupider things they did, and utterly disappointed by one particular thing they left out.


ballrus_walsack t1_iy862wn wrote

TIL there was a childhoods end miniseries.


Tanagrabelle t1_iy88t1z wrote

Honest truth, I'm really on the fence about whether or not to recommend it.


jwymes44 t1_iya9nyi wrote

If you spoiler tag it mind adding which part of the book they left out?


Tanagrabelle t1_iybbcoo wrote

There are many things, but only one that really mattered to me.

>!They did not make the part where abusing animals was forbidden, so humans went with the bullfight, only to be punished by feeling the pain of the poor bulls.!<

I know, we all have different things to find bothersome. I could shrug off the crunched timeline. A little. Okay, so my teeth hurt. That thing they skipped, though, I think they ought to have had it in there.


swedish_librarian t1_iy8gcdh wrote

I went to a talk that swedish crime novelist Leif GW Persson gave a few years back. He started talking about how his books have gotten longer since he started writing back in the seventies.

He said that back the he wrote on a typewriter and it was a pain in the ass to go back and change stuff and the very act of typing and changing papers limited the length of the book.. When he started using a word processor he could just let the text run on and on.

I think he has a point.


Ask_Me_About_Sergals t1_iy8w5jr wrote

This book fucked me up. After I finished it, I put the book down, and thought about what the hell mattered in my life.


sixbux t1_iy9fl5f wrote

The final chapter was sublime. It gave me the impression that the author had a vision of this incredible ending, and worked backwards from there.


rckwld t1_iy7zuwb wrote

It was incredible.


Wherethegains t1_iy971cl wrote

This is my #1 favorite book. It's haunting. "Humans were not meant for the stars" or something to that effect. And the description of the overmind, and how the young people change. How Rashaverak's species are so advanced, yet unable to transcend and are therefore inherently sad. I F'UH'N LOVE THIS BOOK. read it every year.


mcarterphoto t1_iy8ko70 wrote

Try some Ray Bradbury. He had really unique ideas, but he also had such a focus on the writing being beautiful. "Something Wicked This Way Comes", "The Illustrated Man", "The Martian Chronicles" are all classics; the beauty of his writing is simply hypnotic.


boxer_dogs_dance t1_iy8lrsc wrote

r/printsf does really good tailored recommendations if you explain what books you have liked.


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SterlingR3d OP t1_iy80mzy wrote

Exactly! Not only the emotion of the entire end of the book but the way he described what was happening.

Gave you a sense of it but didn’t over-describe it either. Just a perfect finale


Froakiebloke t1_iy8rbbc wrote

The cult classic video game Xenogears takes some pretty heavy inspiration from Childhood’s End, among various other things. In the original Japanese one major character is outright named Karellen.

Classic sci-fi is well out of my usual area so I would never have read this book without Xenogears, but I’m very glad I did


Quiddity131 t1_iy937zr wrote

I got drawn to this book by Xenogears as well. Highly recommended, both the book and the game.


paukipaul t1_iy9gxlb wrote

isnt that the book with aliens who scare us by their appearance?


curiouspeter_14 t1_iy82q8u wrote

Chilhood's End an amazing sci-fi novel. Great imagination!


quitegonegenie t1_iy8v15b wrote

There's a great passage where a character is watching a space launch and the light trail is described as an thin curving arc toward Jupiter.


Wherethegains t1_iy97eol wrote

Hey you liked Childhood's End! My favorite book. The only contender is what I now consider my second favorite book, which I think you'd enjoy - weird fiction, and has a similar feel - The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins! Can't recommend it enough!


SterlingR3d OP t1_iyamikh wrote

I’ll definitely be adding that to my list and check it out. Thanks for the reccomendation


Wherethegains t1_iyard81 wrote

Can I hit you up for some 'weird fiction ' suggestions?


SterlingR3d OP t1_iycojtb wrote

When it comes to my recommendations in weird fiction I don’t have too many. The one that comes to mind would be [Color Out of Space by H.P. Lovecraft] I know he is a controversial figure (rightfully so) but this work itself was solid and didn’t hit the issues as much as his other works.

The only other book I’ve read that could pooosibly be called weird fiction is poems by Edgar Allen Poe.

Most of my in take has been through video games, movies, and shows.

For VG: I would highly recommend either Alan Wake (great spooky atmosphere, amazing story about a struggling author seeking save his wife from the secluded town they went on vacation too, and crazy twists) or Control (amazing action, interesting Lore, and riveting story about a Woman coming to “The Bureau ” in search of her brother to find it under attack by supernatural forces)Both are great action games but the story, lore, and world are the real hooks.

For Movies: I like Annihilation (based on the book by the same name but I’ve never read it), The Endless (low budget film about 2 brothers returning to the cult that raised them when they receive a mysterious tape) and Arrival (non hostile aliens arrive on earth and the team trying to make contact)

TLDR; Books: Color out of Space, and Poetry by Edgar Allen Poe Video Games: Alan Wake or Control Movies: The endless, Arrival, or Annihilation


Ineffable7980x t1_iy891rh wrote

I read this book in high school, and it blew my adolescent mind. I wonder if I would still feel the same now that I am middle aged.


SkullFace45 t1_iy89ncm wrote

The TV mini series was really good too, highly recommend checking out if you haven't already.


entropySapiens t1_iy8egtw wrote

It's also a pretty good Pink Floyd song, which may or may not be related to the book.


BlavikenButcher t1_iy8f63t wrote

This book is really a great piece of work. I think it is highly readable even outside of Science Fiction circles.


ryaaan89 t1_iy8h4r6 wrote

This is one of my favorite books of all time. Should I watch the miniseries from a few years ago?


[deleted] t1_iy8skje wrote

I loved this book when I read it in school.


flyguydip t1_iy8wdas wrote

This is one of those books I somehow managed to string out over the course of a year. I liked it so much that I didn't want to finish it. I was sad to have reached the end, but the ending wasn't what I was certain it would be for the last few months before I finished it. Great book!


troyunrau t1_iy90vyz wrote

I really like Clarke, and yet disliked this book a lot. And probably for the same reasons you liked it.

In the 1950s and 1960s there was a lot of sci fi that sort of dealt with the premise: "we only use a fraction of our brain! Imagine what we could do if we unlocked the rest of it!" There are many books that follow this notion in a variety of ways, including: Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, Le Guin's City of Illusions, and of course, Childhood's End -- and many many more. But it is all largely wishful thinking and power fantasy. No, our brains don't have an unused organ that will unlock telepathy! There are more recent examples too.

So, while it's a fun book, it's flawed by "magic". And not the good kind of magic, as defined by Clarke as "sufficiently advanced technology"


I_Speak_For_The_Ents t1_iyb1kyo wrote

Either you or I is remembering that book wrong


troyunrau t1_iyb791p wrote

>!aliens show up. Put humans into little reservations until a kid unlocka part of their mind. That kid can then spread that unlock to the rest of humanity.!<


Piorn t1_iyc3qxw wrote

The great thing about metaphysics is that it doesn't have to be rooted in physics.

But I guess you're the kind of person that argues "Dreams" don't exist.


budpowellfan t1_iy96p1r wrote

2001 is a masterpiece of Cinema. Is it Arthur Clarke’s film? No, it’s Kubrick’s, and he created the greatest science fiction film of all time.


adviceKiwi t1_iy9b315 wrote

Trying so hard to find this in the 2nd hand stores


DenOfIsolation t1_iy9dfxq wrote

Whenever the topic of favorite books comes up, Childhood’s End is my immediate answer.


TheObserver89 t1_iy9dz1d wrote

You might like Clive Barker's Weaveworld


McFeely_Smackup t1_iy9ei6e wrote

any SciFi fan is cheating themselves if they haven't read the Golden Age authors; Arthur C Clark, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein

there's plenty more than are considered Golden Age, but these are the holy trinity.


I_Speak_For_The_Ents t1_iyban2n wrote

When I read some Asimov short stories, it was genuinely mind blowing. And I say that rarely.


feetofire t1_iy9mxku wrote

I’ve not read the book yet but accidentally came across the tv show and was entranced …


Solareclipsed t1_iy9pq19 wrote

Clarke is maybe my favorite author and Childhood's End is definitely up there among his best. It has so many interesting ideas packed into a single novel that can be easily read over a few days.


ReverendJared t1_iy9zuok wrote

I read this about a month ago for the first time, really good mind bending stuff, my first introduction to Clarke. I can see how it influenced practically all Sci fi going forward, especially in movies, such as Close Encounters or Arrival.


greengerm t1_iya3f06 wrote

I read this a few months ago and it was so good!


jwf239 t1_iyb7y4g wrote

One of my all time favorites!


TheReignOfChaos t1_iybogc5 wrote

It's good, for sure, but it falls into the "Overmind" conclusion that Clarke tends to lean into (he does something similar with City and The Stars - it falls apart at the very end...)

Rama on the other hand is downright the "best" Science Fiction book i've ever read; It's not my favourite (Speaker for the Dead claims that mantle), but it's the best.


gtshadow t1_iybrtun wrote

I need to reread this. I read it probably 40 years ago and remember absolutely loving it, but now I really don't remember the story or what I liked so much about it. Be interesting to see if it feels the same.


Dana07620 t1_iyb6yhq wrote

I freaking hate this book. This book and The Songs of Distant Earth permanently turned me off reading Clarke. (That's Clarke with an "e," OP.)

What a depressing view Clarke has of us. Still the same selfish, self-centered bastards that we are now with no respect for other species that share our living space. We just kill and take.

Pity in this book that the physical evolution wasn't accompanied by any evolution of morality or conscience.