Author: Arthur Clarke
Original language: English
Publication date: 1953
Childhood’s End is a 1953 science fiction novel by the British author Arthur C. Clarke. The story follows the peaceful alien invasion of Earth by the mysterious Overlords, whose arrival ends all war, helps form a world government, and turns the planet into a near-utopia. Many questions are asked about the origins and mission of the aliens, but they avoid answering, preferring to remain in their space ships, governing through indirect rule. Decades later, the Overlords eventually show themselves, and their impact on human culture leads to a Golden Age. However, the last generation of children on Earth begins to display powerful psychic abilities, heralding their evolution into a group mind, a transcendent form of life.
Clarke’s idea for the book began with his short story “Guardian Angel” (1946), which he expanded into a novel in 1952, incorporating it as the first part of the book, “Earth and the Overlords”. Completed and published in 1953, Childhood’s End sold out its first printing and received good reviews, becoming Clarke’s first successful novel of his career. The book is regarded as Clarke’s best novel by both readers and critics, and is described as “a classic of alien literature”. Along with The Songs of Distant Earth (1986), Clarke considered Childhood’s End one of his favourite novels.