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Childhood’s End is Arthur C. Clarke‘s transcendent masterpiece, the book that shows most clerly the influence of Olaf Stapledon on his writing. This book took the top of my head off when I first read it as a callow teenager. Beginning as an alien invasion story (of a sort) and containing one of the all-time great set pieces in written SF – an image so striking and irresistible that the producers of Independence Day should pay Clarke’s estate a royalty every time their movie is shown – it then moves off, via a poignant coming-of-age vignette, to cover no less a canvas than the ultimate destiny of the human race. And all in under 250 pages.
I look forward to SyFy’s upcoming adaptation with a peculiar mix of excitement and trepidation.
Childhood’s End is available as an SF Masterworks hardback and an SF Gateway eBook. You can find more of Arthur C. Clarke’s books at his author page on the SF Gateway website, and read more about him in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.