Childhood's End

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Childhood's End

Postby toroid » Thu Dec 24, 2015 1:48 pm

A. C. Clarke's original 1953 Childhood"s End is worth a re-read. I doubt the recently released SyFy channel mini-series, which I've recorded but haven't yet watched, presents the tale with the impact the original book had and has on me, despite the mini-series' special effects and current political correctness.

The book is a mystical fantasy of man's past and future on the world we live on from the beginning right to the end in 218 pages (in the 1990 paperback re-issue I own.) It's much more fantastic, yet just as reasonable as the bible, without all the baggage.

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Re: Childhood's End

Postby xouper » Thu Dec 24, 2015 5:52 pm

What a coincidence. I was just thinking about rereading it.

Actually it's probably not a coincidence since the mini-series* is what made me think of it.


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* Footnote: Which I have not seen and did not record when I had the chance.

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Re: Childhood's End

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Thu Dec 24, 2015 7:26 pm

Anybody care to one sentence the book for us?

From the tv series promo, Aliens visit Earth and provide direction to mankind in some way.... and perhaps turn out to be evil? That plot is very common. Is that correct? Any other "hooks"?
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Re: Childhood's End

Postby toroid » Fri Jan 01, 2016 10:53 am

Bobbo:

The TV mini-series plot description isn't exactly wrong but Childhood's End is unlike any other story I've read. That's why I'm thinking that the mini-series is unlikely to match the novel's impact. In the promos I saw, the mini-series seemed to dwell on the second part of the story, The Golden Age, but to care about whether the Golden Age is good or evil misses the point of the story.

I also thought the choice of the "dome guy" Mike Vogel as the representative of the human race for communicating with Karellen, the mysterious unseen Supervisor (for Earth), was an improbable pandering to present day media values, and was as much a distraction as anything else in the mini-series. An actor playing a healthy Beau Biden type charactor would've been more convincing for me.

As the laws of nature are not what they often seem in the reality humans are part of, so the forces behind Childhood's End aren't what they seem either. If a reader believes that humans are the reason for reality, Childhood's End will be depressing story. If OTOH, a reader is open to looking at reality as humanity's ever increasing understanding of the laws of nature suggest it to be, A. C. Clarke's vision will be an interesting, quirky, yet not impossible alternative.

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Re: Childhood's End

Postby Gawdzilla Sama » Fri Jan 01, 2016 11:13 am

Didn't like the book much.
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Re: Childhood's End

Postby toroid » Fri Jan 01, 2016 7:37 pm

For a Forum reader who's curious about the kind of story this is (and many readers IMHO ultimately won't like it, yet may find it intriguing) here are a couple options:

1. A link to the Syfy website which, at least for now, appears to work and offers the complete mini-series as it ran on Syfy:
http://www.syfy.com/childhoodsend/videos/all/2616

2. The complete Wiki description of the novel which contains all the spoilers:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Childhood's_End

I had previously bought a used copy of the 1990 paperback re-issue of Childhood's End to which Clarke adds a short introduction and an even shorter 1st chaper prologue. So far I've watched the Earth and the Overlords 1st segment of the Syfy mini-series but am in no hurry to watch the rest.

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Re: Childhood's End

Postby toroid » Sat Jan 23, 2016 3:10 pm

"So far I've watched the Earth and the Overlords 1st segment of the Syfy mini-series but am in no hurry to watch the rest."

After burning the Syfy mini-series to a set of 3 DVD-Rs I don't dislike the actual production nearly as much as I thought I would but Syfy's presentation style doesn't come close to doing it justice.

Syfy apparently turns everything they offer into an ongoing commercial for something else on their schedule and ends up injecting it all, from the ridiculous to the sublime, into an ongoing cacophony of sensory overload that's typical of today's mass media designed to be followed on smart phones.

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Re: Childhood's End

Postby Gawdzilla Sama » Sat Jan 23, 2016 3:18 pm

When a channel is heavy into promoting its own shows it means they couldn't sell the advertising time. They fill in the dead air with promos.
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Re: Childhood's End

Postby toroid » Sun Jan 24, 2016 1:34 am

True!

But while what I wrote is true; "Syfy apparently turns everything they offer into an ongoing commercial for something else on their schedule and ends up injecting it all, from the ridiculous to the sublime, into an ongoing cacophony of sensory overload that's typical of today's mass media designed to be followed on smart phones", it was too vague and wasn't the whole truth. Besides the self-promos Syfy also filled the 6 or 7 commercial breaks in each 2 hour episode of C.E. with conventional pitches from traditional ad sources which form that often "ridiculous" "ongoing cacophony..."

Each 2 hour episode contains barely over an hour of story. C.E. could have been a memorable 3 hour movie if it wasn't burdened with all the accompanying crap. Worse than that Syfy's crap trivalized A. C. Clarke's novel which, although you didn't care for it, was a major revelation for me in 1953. But it doesn't take much to impress 10 year olds, especially the concept that "the end of everything is the beginning of nothing". The story is perhaps too bleak for a successful movie.

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Re: Childhood's End

Postby Gawdzilla Sama » Sun Jan 24, 2016 1:40 am

I read it while sitting on the deck of a small boat on a big river. I marked the cover with "D" when I was finished and put it in the unit library. That wasn't a grade, it was "Downer". The day I finished it I got a box of Harry Harrison books from The World. Much better.
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Re: Childhood's End

Postby Abdul Alhazred » Mon Jan 25, 2016 1:26 am

Here's my fan theory, which I came up with right after I finished the book (as a teenager).

It mentions in the book that if it weren't for the Overlords, humans would have ended up like the Overlords.

So basically, the evil Overlords destroyed Mankind to eliminate the competition.

The Overmind is some sort of alien mind eater of no particular moral character that was manipulated by the Overlords. The mystical {!#%@} about the Overmind was just the Overlords' diabolical propaganda to ruin us, which succeeded.

Devils indeed.

This theory enabled me to preserve my view of Clarke as a "hard science" type. :pr:
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