Saturday, July 21, 2007

Aaron's Book of the Week :: Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke

Childhood's EndThe Book of the Week is the first paperback printing of Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke, published in 1953, simultaneously with the first hardcover edition, cover art by Richard Powers. This is the third in our sequence of all-time classic science fiction novels first published in 1953, a year the fans at the World Science Fiction Convention neglected to present Hugo Awards.

Arthur C. Clarke is a living legend of science fiction. (Still living at 89, no doubt, because he has never signed any books for me - he has had to hole up in Sri Lanka to avoid me.) He will probably always be best known to non-SF insiders as the author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, but most SF fans regard Childhood's End as his greatest novel. Childhood's End tells of the arrival of an alien race, here to assist humanity in its transition to a more advanced state of being, assistance not everyone is excited about.

Incidentally, in 1945, Clarke was the first person to propose the use of satellites in geosynchronous orbits to facilitate telecommunications. To this day, geosynchronous orbits are often called "Clarke orbits" in his honor. If he had thought to patent his idea, he might well have become the richest person in the world.

We will return to Arthur C. Clarke in future BOTWs, but first we will see another classic of the field from 1953, by another of the legends of the Golden Age of Science Fiction.

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