Childhoods End by Arthur C. Clarke


Childhoods End
Title : Childhoods End
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 0345347951
Language : English
Format Type : Mass Market Paperback
Number of Pages : 224

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.


Childhoods End Reviews


  • Matt

    I ve done a lot of odd jobs over the years At one point, back before I got my degree and I was still working to put my wife through school, I worked as a delivery driver for a company that sold construction supplies 50 lb boxes of powdered Kool Aid, portable generators, hammers, safety harnesses, 2x4 s, circular saws It was one of those barely above minimum wage jobs generally populated by people who for whatever reason find themselves unable to get anything else and competing against a larg I ve done a lot of odd jobs over the years At one point, back before I got my degree and I was still working to put my wife through school, I worked as a delivery driver for a company that sold construction supplies 50 lb boxes of powdered Kool Aid, portable generators, hammers, safety harnesses, 2x4 s, circular saws It was one of those barely above minimum wage jobs generally populated by people who for whatever reason find themselves unable to get anything else and competing against a large number of similar people where the decisive advantage is often no than you show up everyday My colleagues were an interesting mix an ex door gunner on a SOCOM gunship, a teenage kid dreaming of rapping his way off the street, the musician whose real job was Jazz and who d played everywhere in N awlins, a bow kneed redneck that could still remember fondly when racism was acceptable but couldn t manage to make his hatred stick because he didn t really believe it, and the black racist ex boxer would be preacher who once told me with an apologetic smile that white people couldn t get into heaven because they had no souls One of my colleagues was an aging chain smoking gray haired country boy missing half of his teeth and so learning disabled as to need my help with basic addition.He probably knew about literature than many of the professors I ve had, or at the least he was interesting to talk to and his opinions were less rote I found this out after he came in one day aglow after seeing Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon He absolutely needed someone to talk about the experience with, and by that time I was unable to hide the fact that I was an egghead so I was probably the only person he knew that was qualified Turns out, he d lived a rather interesting life He was fluent in Spanish and had spent his youth working construction on hotels up and down the Central and South American coasts And, he d read everything As I came to realize that this redneck knew something about books, despite as best as I could tell never completing high school, I started inquiring into his tastes What I found remarkable was not so much that he d read everything I d ever read and then some, but that on those things we d both read he shared much of the same opinion At some point in one of the conversations Arthur C Clarke came up, and he said, Well, I liked 2001, but I really think that Childhood s End is his real masterwork Not only do I agree, but I lack the ability to give a better recommendation.I don t recommend the works of Clarke in general, and certainly not to anyone who isn t a fan of science fiction His works even the better ones always suffer from seeming to be short stories turned into novels He also displays a strange combination of fascination with but complete incuriosity towards religion and spirituality that can probably be infuriating at times to the religious and non religious alike But this work rises above its defects and is well worth your time

  • Lyn

    Kurt Vonnegut said of Arthur C Clarke s novel Childhood s End that it is one of the few masterpieces in the science fiction genre Vonnegut went on to say that he, Vonnegut, had written all the others As humorous as that is, at least the first clause of that declaration I feel to be true Written simply but with conviction and persuasion, with an almost fable like narrative quality, Clarke has given to us that rarest of literary achievements a science fiction masterpiece The genius of Clarke Kurt Vonnegut said of Arthur C Clarke s novel Childhood s End that it is one of the few masterpieces in the science fiction genre Vonnegut went on to say that he, Vonnegut, had written all the others As humorous as that is, at least the first clause of that declaration I feel to be true Written simply but with conviction and persuasion, with an almost fable like narrative quality, Clarke has given to us that rarest of literary achievements a science fiction masterpiece The genius of Clarke s achievement is compounded by the fact that his accomplishment remains so unique, how have later artists failed to match or even make an attempt at duplication I especially liked the racial memory or racial premonition ideas and the ideas of collective consciousness Interestingly, Clarke s concepts could be seen as having a theological transcendent theme, perhaps even an allegory for awakening to a collective ego Clarke s ingenuity remains untouched and this work stands atop the science fiction canon, comparable to only a handful of other science fiction classics, including the novel that won the Hugo Award in 1954, the same year Childhood s End was nominated for that award, Ray Bradbury s Fahrenheit 451

  • Jeffrey Keeten

    No utopia can ever give satisfaction to everyone, all the time As their material conditions improve, men raise their sights and become discontented with power and possessions that once would have seemed beyond their wildest dreams And even when the external world has granted all it can, there still remain the searchings of the mind and the longings of the heart The United States and the Soviet Union were in the midst of a military space race when large ships appeared in the skies over all t No utopia can ever give satisfaction to everyone, all the time As their material conditions improve, men raise their sights and become discontented with power and possessions that once would have seemed beyond their wildest dreams And even when the external world has granted all it can, there still remain the searchings of the mind and the longings of the heart The United States and the Soviet Union were in the midst of a military space race when large ships appeared in the skies over all the major cities The aliens have come to keep humans from annihilating themselves An act of altruism Or do they have another agenda The press dubs them THE OVERLORDS, but they much prefer to refer to themselves as The Guardians They allow humans to govern themselves by whatever means they feel comfortable unless policy decisions involve hurting people Man s beliefs were his own affair, so long as they did not interfere with the liberty of others The Overlords also did not approve of hurting animals for sport In Madrid, when the Spaniards insist on continuing to hold bullfights, a lesson is administered Every time the bull is stabbed, the pain the animal is feeling is transferred to the audience No bullfights.Robotics and computers are advanced to the point that humans are only needed as overseers Work weeks are cut down to twenty hours a week OMG sign me UP People are encouraged to go to college, to develop hobbies and skills, and even go back to school several times over their lifetimes to learn something completely new The existence of so much leisure would have created tremendous problems a century before Education had overcome most of these, for a well stocked mind is safe from boredom And for a while the excitement of improving themselves keeps the humans on a spectacular track of not only bettering themselves, but also evolving civilization Murder has become almost nonexistent, and when passion inspires such aggression, it is only the matter of turning a dial for The Overlords to find the perpetrator When I google NSA, the National Security Agency of course comes up, but so does No Strings Attached, which I found very ironic Given the range and the depth of what the NSA knows about all of us, not just US citizens by the way, maybe we should start applying the term The Overlords to the United States government It would be nice if they would convert all this information into something practical, like catching murderers Knowing how these things work, they may not want us to know that they are capable of doing that We might get fearful of our government Barrage balloons over London during World War II Clarke observed balloons like these floating over the city in 1941 He recalls that his earliest idea for the story may have originated with this scene, with the giant balloons becoming alien ships in the novel.It seems to be the fate of all Utopias to turn leisure into sloth and turn unlimited possibilities into boredom Interesting that Arthur C Clarke uses the advancement of Television technology to be a major contributor to the degradation of a perfect society People became passive sponges absorbing but never creating Clarke mentions that people in this society started watching television three hours per day Rookies The latest statistics that I saw mentioned that Americans now watch five hours of television a day on average.Obviously, I don t watch television five hours a day as can be ascertained by how many books I read a year If the Kansas City Royals are playing, I do watch about three hours, but I m also still reading and researching while the game is on Baseball is the perfect background noise for doing just about anything, including taking a much needed nap to rest the noggin for a few minutes When people ask me how I read so many books a year and still work full time, I usually ask them how much time they spend watching television or playing with their cell phone or playing games on their iPad Everyone has the same number of hours in their day it just depends on how you choose to use them I choose to read People who read fewer books than me are making different choices or in some cases may have obligations Of course, this is relevant only because I see reading as the best way to evolve the mind I m old fashioned that way There were some things that only time could cure Evil men could be destroyed, but nothing could be done with good men who were deluded There are concerns voiced by various religious groups and also by people who are not thrilled about humans losing their ability to govern themselves, but for the majority of people the lack of responsibility and the lack of ambition to succeed are concepts they readily embrace A society that was evolving to the greatest heights of artistic and progressive achievements starts to prefer apathy The Overlords are very careful to control what the humans learn about them A man named Jan Rodericks stows away on one of their ships and sees a world he can barely comprehend And in its sky was such a sun as no opium eater could ever have imagined in his wildest dreams Too hot to be white, it was a searing ghost at the frontiers of the ultraviolet, burning its planets with radiations which would be instantly lethal to all earthly forms of life For millions of kilometers around extended great veils of gas and dust, fluorescing in countless colors as the blasts of ultraviolet tore through them It was a star against which Earth s pale sun would have been as feeble as a glowworm at noon In one of those time travelling, mind bending events that I always have trouble fully comprehending, Jan only ages a few months, but has missed eighty years on Earth The Overlords make allusion to the fact that science can destroy religions, but that science is not the top of the mountain, but only a stepping stone to a much greater understanding of life They search through our archives looking for information on the paranormal and other elements that have been written about outside the realm of science When the children of earth start to develop telekinetic powers, the true reasons for The Overlords being our guardians becomes clear We also learn that the Overlords defer to another power much greater than their own capabilities called The Overmind I caught a commercial for the six hour miniseries that the Syfy Channel is planning to launch in December and realized that I have hauled a copy of this book around with me for a couple of decades without reading it Sometimes we need one push As always I m impressed with Arthur C Clarke s ability to tackle the bigger issues and to be somewhat controversial in his presentation of the best and worst of being human It does seem that we are incapable of possessing true happiness for very long We are designed for strife, for pain, for joy, and ambitious achievement When any of those elements are removed from the equation, we start to falter Joy can only be fully appreciated if we experience pain Ambition can only be relished if strife was overcome to achieve it As The Overlords fix all the problems, there is a huge cost, too big of a cost, in that we lose what makes us unique It is disappointing to think that harmony and lack of fear will turn us into beings unworthy of admiration When defense is no longer a primary objective, it is disheartening to believe that the energy previously expended on security can not be transferred to higher levels of achievement in the arts, philosophy, music, and literature To be the best that we can be, we still need the growl of the Sabretooth tiger coming from just beyond the edge of the firelight We still need to be capable of picking up a club and saying here kitty, kitty, kitty This is a short book, power packed with ideas and concepts, and certainly deserving of inclusion in the list of classic, influential, science fiction books See all my recent book and movie reviews at

  • mark monday

    you think you re so fucken smart, don t you mark ha, think again all your little plans and goals, your little community of friends and family and colleagues, your whole little life what does it matter in the long run not a whole fucken lot grow up.take this book for example a classic of the genre, written by a classic author you thought you knew what you were getting into you ve read countless examples of the type you sure are a well read little scifi nerd, aren t you for the first h you think you re so fucken smart, don t you mark ha, think again all your little plans and goals, your little community of friends and family and colleagues, your whole little life what does it matter in the long run not a whole fucken lot grow up.take this book for example a classic of the genre, written by a classic author you thought you knew what you were getting into you ve read countless examples of the type you sure are a well read little scifi nerd, aren t you for the first half, maybe longer, you were right a well crafted central character, flavorful supporting characters, intriguing aliens, a spicy mystery to solve it was all laid out as expected and the pleasures were of a familiar sort when the mystery of the aliens appearance was solved, you were a wee bit surprised but it was a comfortable sort of surprise it s not like it blew your mind it was clever but everything up until then was as you expected well fucking Congratulations, chump, your predictions came half true you want a medal you don t get one there aren t any half medals there are some fucking spoilers that follow you weren t expecting what came after those revelations came out of the blue for you, didn t they you didn t expect to be made to feel so small, to get a little depressed, to have your expectations pounded all to pieces it was kinda beautiful in a way, kinda mind blowing but mainly it was fucken sad oh you poor baby you have your own private little dreams of widespread empathy and the future of children and the future of humanity and our future place in the world and at the most secret, sentimental heart of you some corny spiritual post life higher consciousness transcending type shit you didn t expect that to be a part of the novel, did you you didn t expect it to all come out, be laid out on the page like a body in a morgue, your body, and then just get eviscerated your dreams of some sort of future beyond this present, where you are still you, a wistful dream that you like to think is both delicate and profound like one of those origami things you like to do what s your favorite one a pinwheel well you get to watch that pinwheel of a dream get smashed and turned inside out and torn up into bits revealed as a typically naive and childish fantasy ha so much for that grow the fuck up, chump

  • Petra X

    I read this long ago, just when I was becoming a teenager and my tastes were changing, you might say I read it at childhood s end When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 1 Corinthians 13 11 But we cannot do this without the help of our parents and teachers view spoiler and politicians Well some of them A few One or two, you know hide spoiler And so it is the Aliens come.The story is ess I read this long ago, just when I was becoming a teenager and my tastes were changing, you might say I read it at childhood s end When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 1 Corinthians 13 11 But we cannot do this without the help of our parents and teachers view spoiler and politicians Well some of them A few One or two, you know hide spoiler And so it is the Aliens come.The story is essentially the one of zen buddhism told as scifi fantasy Its climax is nirvana Nirvana for all, for the Earth.Nirvana is the liberation from the repeating cycle of birth, life and death It is the extinguishing of desire, affection, aversion, delusion and ego All that makes us individuals evaporates in the uniting with divine power of the universe in perpetual bliss And on that note, the book ends

  • Samadrita

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here If science fiction usually treads the fine line between mere speculation and actual scientific feasibilities, then Arthur C Clarke can be accused of taking a cosmic leap of faith into the realm of highly unrealistic speculation, in this book.For at least 75% of the narrative, I remained largely clueless about where the story was heading and for the remaining 25% I couldn t help but roll my eyes at the ludicrousness of it all Aliens, who are referred to by a fancy name like Overlords eyeroll If science fiction usually treads the fine line between mere speculation and actual scientific feasibilities, then Arthur C Clarke can be accused of taking a cosmic leap of faith into the realm of highly unrealistic speculation, in this book.For at least 75% of the narrative, I remained largely clueless about where the story was heading and for the remaining 25% I couldn t help but roll my eyes at the ludicrousness of it all Aliens, who are referred to by a fancy name like Overlords eyeroll to boot, come down from a distant galaxy in the universe and establish their rule over Earthlings Earth transforms into a kind of utopia in a hundred years during which disease, poverty, hunger, crimes, social inequality, threat of nuclear wars are permanently eliminated thanks to the diplomacy and benevolence of the Overlords And then comes the shocker or the real reason for the Overlords colonizing our cherished planet turns out the almighty Overlords are no than mere agents in the service of an even higher form of intelligence called the Overmind eyeroll who seek to tap into the reserves of metaphysical power of the mind of man and help mankind transition into the next stage of evolution.Don t bother trying to make sense of that last part It didn t make much sense to me either and I generally keep an open mind while reading science fiction And what happens at the end sounds way ridiculous that what I wrote for the sake of this review In his effort to explore a subject like existential crisis why are we here what is the meaning of life and ponder on phenomenon Science has still not been able to explain convincingly enough, Clarke has taken a tumble into the abyss of sheer absurdity Not even willing suspension of disbelief helped endear me to your theories Mr Clarke view spoiler Mankind s purpose of existence is to birth an ultimate generation of not very human children with potent psychic powers insert eyeroll who achieve a sort of communion with the Overmind was this Clarke s euphemism for God and get to be one with the Universe While their progenitors eventually die out, thereby, wiping out the last of the human species as we know it Huh hide spoiler Neither is Childhood s End event driven nor does it contain the heart stopping suspense that I have come to associate with Clarke s creations And to further intensify my lack of interest in the book, none of the characters made an impression I guess Clarke s aim was only to propound a theory albeit a far fetched one rather than to weave an intriguing tale revolving around space exploration travel And I was clearly not among the target audience of this book.But this does not in any way diminish my love for Clarke My science fiction adoring soul, will come back to this man time and again, in search of a story as fascinating as 2001 A Space Odyssey.I just hope I find something better next time Originally posted on April 3rd, 2013

  • Megan Baxter

    From my vast expertise of having read all of two, count them, two, Arthur C Clarke books, I am seeing a common theme I don t know if it extends beyond that to his other books, but here it is The universe is a very, very big place And humans might just be irrelevant to it What is going on out there is so vast that it s an immense piece of egotism to think of ourselves as central, or even incidental, to it Note The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodread From my vast expertise of having read all of two, count them, two, Arthur C Clarke books, I am seeing a common theme I don t know if it extends beyond that to his other books, but here it is The universe is a very, very big place And humans might just be irrelevant to it What is going on out there is so vast that it s an immense piece of egotism to think of ourselves as central, or even incidental, to it Note The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement You can read why I came to this decision here.In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook

  • Apatt

    As I write the TV adaptation of Childhood s End is being promoted by the cable channel Syfy goddam silly name Given how much I like this book I will probably watch it but before I do I want to reread the source material first, as it s been decades since I last read it Childhood s End is to my mind Clarke s best novel It is very unusual among his works in term of plot and setting Most of the book is Earthbound and the story starts in the present day year not specified Very little tim As I write the TV adaptation of Childhood s End is being promoted by the cable channel Syfy goddam silly name Given how much I like this book I will probably watch it but before I do I want to reread the source material first, as it s been decades since I last read it Childhood s End is to my mind Clarke s best novel It is very unusual among his works in term of plot and setting Most of the book is Earthbound and the story starts in the present day year not specified Very little time is spent on the space voyage and the minutiae of spacefaring is not dwelled upon.The opening scene of gigantic spaceships suddenly appearing in Earth s sky, casting massive shadows over cities, has been ripped off by the 1996 movie Independence Day, two versions of V TV series , and probably other media I am not aware of The movie and TV shows just use Clarke s vivid imagery but did not do anything particularly creative with it Another concept V may have lifted from Childhood s End is the idea of a seemingly benign alien invasion V soon switches to the conventional evil reptilian aliens route, whereas Clarke has a far ambitious tale to tell At the beginning of Childhood s End the world is on the verge of another world war, with the superpower nations still engaged in an arms race Suddenly the aliens show up and put a stop to all that and other human destructive tendencies, they also eliminate crime, poverty, hunger, and even cruelty to animals Then they go on to unite mankind under a literal united nations where different countries and governments are made unnecessary The sort of thing John Lennon imagined and no religion too These are all wonderful things of course, but there is a price for this global utopia Basically subjugation of the human race in the nicest possible way, the mysterious aliens are even called Overlords by the humans These Overlords also have an ulterior motive for their guardianship of mankind which is not revealed until the last few pages of the book.Clarke s depiction of the human race before the advent of the aliens gives the impression that Earth is a planet run by children, a little like Lord of the Flies on a global scale Left to our own devices, we would eventually self destruct looking at the news headlines these days Sir Arthur seems to have the right idea So whatever the Overlords endgame is they are doing us a favor The human society after a few years under the alien administration reminds me of the post scarcity society of Iain M Banks Culture series, with the same result of ennui and loss of creativity As their material conditions improve, men raise their sights and become discontented with powers and possessions that once would have seemed beyond their wildest dreams And even when the external world has granted all it can, there still remain the searchings of the mind and the longings of the heart Another unusual feature of Childhood s End in comparison to Clarke s other books is that it is fairly light on hard science Of course what little science expositions there is is quite rigorous and beautifully explained but Clarke unusually relies on handwavium science in this book, like this description of the Overlords mysterious stardrive They leave the Solar System under such tremendous accelerations that they approach the velocity of light in less than an hour That means that the Overlords must possess some kind of propulsive system that acts equally on every atom of their ships, so that anything aboard won t be crushed instantly The time dilation effect of an interstellar voyage is put to good use though The fate of mankind at the end of the book is mind blowing I wonder what Clarke was smoking when he wrote this It is so awesome that Led Zeppelin used the imagery from this part of the book for the cover of their album Houses of the Holy.As with all the Clarke books I have read there is not much in the way of characterization, the humans, and even the Overlords are there to move the plot forward Somehow Clarke always makes it works, the lack of emphasis on characters development is even a virtue as the storyline is so engrossing I even enjoyed Clarke s prose in this book which verges on lyrical at times The ground should have cracked and trembled beneath that tremendous weight, but the vessel was still in the grip of whatever forces drove it among the stars It kissed the earth as gently as a falling snowflake I hope Syfy can do a good job adapting this stupendous sci fi classic, though their past achievements don t inspire much confidence Regardless, this is one of the few sci fi books that I would not hesitate to recommend to everybody If you are going to watch the TV show read this first, I cannot imagine the show improving on the book, but I can imagine it ruining the book all too well.__________________ V 1984 V Remake 2009 Notes While Childhood s End clearly inspired the aforementioned film and TV shows, I think it may have been in turn inspired to some extent by John Wyndham s The Midwich Cuckoos and The Chrysalids.Syfy s Childhood s End trailer That hysterical screaming woman already makes me dread what other changes they are going to make There is no hysteria in the book, well except one guy who screams like a little girl for a moment when he spots something weird in a museum.Update 16 Dec 15 The great David Brin just posted this beautiful article about Clarke If I may quote a couple of relevant passages And yet, what most intrigues me about Arthur s work is something else his ongoing fascination with human destiny a term seemingly at odds with the scientific worldview.But there is another Arthur C Clarke The one who sent David Bowman through the monolith in his great classic, 2001 The author who gave us Childhood s End One who frets that we may not be wise enough to survive the next few generations of tense immaturity, let alone become worthy of joining advanced communities of mind

  • Duane

    At one point while reading this I was reminded of astronaut Dave Bowman from 2010 Odyssey Two, when he was telling everyone, something is going to happen, something wonderful Something does happen whether it is wonderful or not is a matter of debate In 2010 the message was of new beginnings, in Childhoods End it is something quite different You can t go wrong reading Arthur C Clarke, just a brilliant writer with a wonderful imagination.

  • David Sheppard

    Warning lots of spoilers I read Arthur C Clarke s Childhood s End many years ago I also read it to my son when he was eight So why did I come back to a book that was originally published in 1953, read it yet again, and feel it necessary to write a review What got me thinking about Childhood s End again is the emergence of the Internet as force for change within the Global Community Also, my limited experience teaching university students impressed upon me the impact that the Internet is h Warning lots of spoilers I read Arthur C Clarke s Childhood s End many years ago I also read it to my son when he was eight So why did I come back to a book that was originally published in 1953, read it yet again, and feel it necessary to write a review What got me thinking about Childhood s End again is the emergence of the Internet as force for change within the Global Community Also, my limited experience teaching university students impressed upon me the impact that the Internet is having on the minds of our young people.As a novelist myself and an author of a book on how to write a novel, I first must say that Childhood s End is marvelously plotted It starts off with a startling revelation Earth is not only being visited by extraterrestrials, called Overlords, but they have come to take over the world, prevent our annihilation, and impose restrictions on human activities that will insure not only our survival but also that we prosper This then locks the conflict first plot point between humans and ET, and as with so much of Clarke s fiction, the conflict is at a relatively low level ET, or the Overlords in this case, is here to help.When one group, the Freedom League, wishes to oppose the Overlords forcefully, they are soon subdued, non violently The one thing the Overlords will not do is show themselves Humans make an attempt at seeing one of them, but don t get away with it As a result, the Overlords agree to let them see them, but not for another fifty years, two generations This then is the second plot point, which occurs 20% of the way through the story, a little short of where you d expect it.As time drags on, humanity loses its edge We are no longer as creative as we once were, and culturally we have stagnated Utopia is never all it s cracked up to be And the time finally comes when the Overlords reveal their physical selves, and a strange sight they are, and yet immediately recognizable They are the very image of Satan, red skin, horns, and pointed tail, leathery wings No wonder they d been so secretive However, since they had shown their goodwill through the years, little was made of their coincidental resemblance to an ancient symbol of evil This revelation comes at the 1 3 point and a little beyond what we d think of as the second plot point and well short of 1 2 point that we d think of as the third plot point.At the mid point of the novel, we get a true reversal At a party, guests play a game similar to a Ouija Board One of the participants asks, Which star is the Overlords home And the answer they get back is NGS 549672 Only one of the guests realizes that this is a database entry for a star forty lightyears away in the constellation Carina This person then starts making plans to stowaway on the next Overlord spaceship to their home The Overlords have subdued the humans up until this point, but now one of them is on the hunt to find out than the Overlords wish them to know This is plot point three.Just before the three quarters point, one of the earthlings stows away on the Overlords spaceship and leaves earth with them His journey there and back will take eighty years, Earth time, but just a few months in relativistic time above the rocket traveling at close to the speed of light Just a little later, at the three quarters point in the novel, a strange event occurs An Overlord saves one of the human children For some reason the Overlords believe he is special And then children all over the world start having strange dreams and developing telekinetic powers This is what the Overlords have waited for all this time.At the end of the novel, we learn that what the story has been about all along is the children The human race is entering a new phase, one that will only manifest in our children They are becoming something other than human beings and metamorphosing into something that transcends human existence It s as if the worm finally becames a butterfly And we learn that those who have been known as the Overlords are actually only caretakers of the human race while it undergoes the transformation into something spiritually superior to human beings The children no longer relate to their parents, and the parents have no knowledge of their children It s a clean break.As it turns out, the Overlords are a tragic species They cannot and never will make the transformation to this higher plane And they take their orders from yet a higher power, the power that then comes for the children of mankind The Overlords are a dead end species from another world and can only witness the process, foster it, but never undergo it themselves.The denouement comes with the man who had hitched a ride on the Overlords spaceship and gone to their home planet He returns after eighty years, having seen the home of the Overloads and what a magnificent species they are But he is the only human being left on earth, and he witnesses the end of the human race.One other interesting facet of Clarke s novel is that, since the story is spread over 150 years or so, he uses a series of third person limited narrations He skips from character to character as his story dictates He even uses a couple of the Overlords as point of view characters This he does with skill, so it never seems artificial or lacking knowledge of craft Always professionally executed.Perhaps you can now see why I was so interested in taking another look at this story Our children of today are growing up in the presence of the Internet, something no science fiction writer saw coming And yet, it seems to me that Arthur C Clarke did, in a sense, see it coming in this story Our texting, blogging, FaceBooking neophytes to the human race are a strange species with unusual powers developed by virtue of the Internet They are leaving us behind, and heaven knows what they ll become in the future It does appear that they are making a clean break from what the human race has been Let s just hope that they can store away a little of our humanity for future reference