Of course the SF world is all atwitter with the upcoming release of the new STAR WARS movie on December 18, but The Syfy Channel has something to keep fans distracted while they wait for the Big Day. Starting Monday, December 14 at 8:00 p.m. EST and running for three consecutive nights, the network adapts Arthur C. Clarke’s classic SF novel Childhood’s End for the small screen.
Take a look at the trailer HERE:
This tale of “beneficial” aliens who create a Golden Age of peace and prosperity on Earth, only to exact a terrible price, was Clarke’s first successful novel, published in 1953. It has been the inspiration for numerous other stories, teleplays and movies, including CHILDREN OF THE DAMNED in 1960, and Clarke’s own 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY in 1968. (Some might include any film showing massive motherships hovering over the cities of the world, or any episode of STAR TREK that kept populations somnambulant under a computer in that count.) It has become a solid pillar of the genre, a must-read for any science fiction newbie.
I first read the book as part of a course taught by my SF mentor and philosophy professor, Dr. Scott Crom, at Beloit College. I remember gasping, then laughing in delight, when I got to the Big Reveal of the novel. (No spoilers here. If you haven’t done so, you’ll have to read it for yourself, or watch the mini-series!) Suffice it to say, Clarke—like my favorite, Rod Serling, and others of his day—only served to encourage my basically suspicious nature. Be careful what you wish for, they said, and trust no one!
Clarke’s idea has been reworked so many times it is no longer new. Perhaps it wasn’t even new in 1953. But his expression of it was shiny enough to earn him a Retro Hugo Award for Best Novel nomination in 2004.
The novel has long been considered impossible to film, largely because of its ending, I imagine. And The Syfy Channel may not be the best venue for an adaptation. The network’s creative efforts are uneven, at best. Still, I am excited to see what they will do with this favorite of my early SF reading years. And, besides, what else is there to do while we wait for December 18?