Shockingly, for a hardcore sci-fi fan, the only Clarke I've read is "Hammer of God" about 10 years ago. So this was like my first (re)introduction to Clarke's fiction. The story was interesting, but I felt it could have been fleshed out a lot. Most of the characters are little more than passing figures, including the mysterious Overlords. I found that I didn't really care too much about their eventuality. What I loved about the novel were certain, almost incidental concepts that have found their way into other great (and lesser) works of Sci-fi, even possibly formed the premise of other stories. For instance: The Overlords brought technology that allowed the humans to "tune in" any period in history, and watch the past as it occurred - a concept used by Orson Scott Card's "Pastwatch," one of my all-time favorites. There is a vague idea presented that technology was developed that made lying not only impractical, but impossible to get away with - a idea that was developed in great detail in James L. Halperin's "The Truth Machine." Whether these authors were influenced by Clarke, I couldn't presume to say, as my own limited point of reference is bounded by my own admittedly small library. Not to mention that I'm certain these concepts have been explored many times and from multiple angles. Laughably, at one point (remembering that the story was written in 1954,) he explains the presence, success, and lack of prejudice toward a central character who is black, by saying: "A century before, his color would have been a tremendous, perhaps and overwhelming, handicap. Today, it meant nothing. The inevitable reaction that had given early twenty-first-century Negroes a slight sense of superiority had already passed away. The convenient word "nigger" was no longer taboo in polite society, but was used without embarrassment by everyone. It had no more emotional content than such labels as republican or methodist, conservative or liberal." !!! teehee!I enjoyed "Childhood's End" but felt that the ending (and indeed "the ending!") was tied up in a neat little bow, ala T.S. Eliot's "Hollow Men"- "not with a bang but a whimper." It was unexpected, a slight disappointment, a little odd, and a small- but very important- bit of it was completely implausible, even (or especially?) in science fiction.