Diss: one year on

Near-exactly one year ago I submitted my dissertation. In honour of the sleepless nights, it is presented here in full. If you like science fiction, you might find it interesting, and if you don’t, you might find it more interesting still. If anyone’s stupid enough to try to steal this essay as their own, more fool them, it’s a bit winding.

Childhood’s End: How Arthur C. Clarke uses science fiction and its tropes to explore humanity’s conception of itself

“We are only seeking Man. We have no need of other worlds. We need mirrors.” – Solaris, Stanislaw Lem[1]

Childhood’s End  by Arthur C. Clarke is an example of science fiction at its best. This essay will show how it conveys its ideas clearly, using the tools of the genre to their fullest extent. I will demonstrate the depth and of argument that is demanded of the science fiction writer by showing the change and development of some of the novel’s themes. I will place the novel in the context of its field, show the qualities unique to the science fiction novel and also to this particular book. First, I shall define what I mean by science fiction.

The term ‘science fiction’ was first used in the 1920s, yet there is no consensus on which works belong to the genre.[2] Damon Knight, often described as an science fiction author, said that escience fiction is what we point to when we say it,f which captures the elusive nature of the terminology and the frustration felt by some of those who become labelled by it. This must partly be because it is often decried as a genre filled merely with ‘rocket-ship sagas and invasions of super-gremlins from universes other than our own.’[3] Ursula K. LeGuin accused Margaret Atwood of attempting to ‘protect her novels from being relegated to a genre still shunned by hidebound readers, reviewers and prize-awarders. She doesn’t want the literary bigots to shove her into the literary ghetto.’[4] It is argued that science fiction is ‘not fundamentally about character.’[5] As such, it is unfavourably compared to literary fiction, a ‘critically acclaimed, often award-winning, fiction’ which is ‘character-centered’ whereas science fiction ‘engages science… as [its] central phenomenon.’[6][7]

I want to move away from defining science fiction a genre. Atwood defines a genre as a ’system of work united by an inner identity.’[8] For some, such as quoted in Atwood’s exploration of the field In Other Worlds, this identity is simply the presence of tropes such as ‘spaceships, and Mad Scientists, and Experiments Gone Awfully Wrong.’[9] However, having sampled a selection of science fiction, it is often hard to draw points of comparison between works described as such. For example, Dune by Frank Herbert is an epic desert adventure set in the far future, interested in religion and empire, whereas The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick is a detailed alternate history, positing a world where Germany and Japan won the Second World War, that explores national identity and the nature of reality. Both, however, are classified as science fiction, and both won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in their respective years, a prestigious award in the science fiction field.[10] The anthology The Secret History of Science Fiction makes a virtue of this fact, and collects short stories that show the range of science fiction writing.

If the sort of fiction that is described by the term science fiction does share an ‘inner identity’, I would argue it is that of ‘idea fiction,’ stories using fiction as a tool to explore ideas. [11] Adam Roberts explains this theory using scientific language. He calls science fiction a ‘symbolic system’ to explore human issues of the present and the past. For Roberts, ‘the business of the [science fiction] writer is to set up the equipment in the laboratory of the mind’ to provide a ‘what if?’ question ‘with the exact nutrients it needs.’[12] The science in the term science fiction does not refer to the subject, but to the methodology. Samuel R. Delany explains the same idea as Roberts, but using terms associated with art, saying that ‘in science fiction what you need is a good story for an idea, a story that will dramatize an idea.[13]

Either way, it would be wrong to characterise science fiction as prophetic. Roberts argues that science fiction is a ‘mode of awareness about the world’ that, rather than predicts or fantasises about the future as is often assumed, ‘relates to us stories about our present.’[14] Atwood quotes William Gibson as saying ‘the future is already with us, it’s just unevenly distributed.[15] Roberts goes on to argue that ‘more importantly [science fiction investigates] the past that has led to this present’.[16] It is a ‘historiographic mode, a means of symbolically writing about history.[17] After all, ‘if we in the present are going to think about the future in any scientific way, we have to reason from the experience of the past.[18]

To further explore this, I am going to take Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke as a representative example, a book where ideas are ‘dramatised’ rather than merely introduced.[19][20] The novel is considered a classic in the field, being nominated for the Retro Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2004, and has achieved many favourable reviews.[21] In the New York Times, Davenport puts Clarke ‘in the very small group of writers who have used science-fiction as the vehicle of philosophic ideas,’ while Du Bois calls it a ‘first rate tour de force that is well worth the attention of every thoughtful citizen in this age of anxiety’. [22][23] In common with many works of science fiction, it tackles the larger themes, such as the effect of world peace on society, and man’s place in the universe. However, also in common with many works of science fiction, Childhood’s End has been accused, in this case by Scott Sanders, of a ’disparity between sophisticated ideas [and] often naïve art.’[24]

It features many of the tropes associated with science fiction: an alien invasion, spaceships, superhuman abilities, and large-scale destruction. However, what makes Childhood’s End science fiction is not simply their presence, but their use in the novel. One aspect of the use of ehighly predictable formsf is that they create a ’neutral background’[25] against which new concepts show up more clearly. This can work on a few layers in the novel. Let us take the example of sequence involving the deep sea laboratory.[26] A science fiction reader is quite used to encountering a laboratory in a story – after all, Frankenstein is often cited as one of the earliest examples of the genre.[27] That is the neutral background against which the concept of it being underwater, and thus symbolising the technological advance that humanity has made since the Overlords came. However, the underwater lab or base has since become a cliché, and even at the time of publication a sequence set underwater was somewhat familiar – Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is the most prominent example. This is a second layer of neutrality, against which the specific details of how this particular laboratory works can be highlighted. The experienced reader of science fiction ‘begins a story by settling into the known world of SF and then discovering what is new there.’[28]

The novel also uses science fiction tropes to hide literary technique. The concept that when travelling in a spaceship from Earth to a distance, say, forty light-years away, and then back again, eighty years will have passed on Earth but hardly any time will have passed for the traveller, crops up often in science fiction, in The Left Hand of Darkness by LeGuin for instance. In Childhood’s End, the character Jan Rodricks makes such a trip to the Overlords’ planet. His return not only provides a rationale for a narrative jump of eighty years, it also ’offers us a human perspective for the final metamorphosis into [a] higher being.’[29]

There is also an expectation in science fiction to build to a grand conclusion, and the novel has been praised for ‘Clarke’s ability to present the whole, vast package as a giant Christmas present, to be unwrapped stage by stage, marvel by marvel.’[30] David N. Samuelson also notes ‘the momentum built up in the unwary reader,’ his expression showing the odd, but sadly prevalent prejudice against science fiction and other genre work, that you can’t be simultaneously entertained and intellectually stimulated by what you are reading. Perhaps ‘the basic structure of Childhood’s End can be represented by an equation: Humans/Overlords = Overlords/Overmind,’ and as this shifts from the small scale to the large, so does the import and magnitude of the ideas.[31] As the momentum builds, so does the intellect. This also demonstrates that the plot in science fiction is linked to the themes of the novel, not the characters, as hinted by the earlier quotation from Delany.

The main use of tropes in science fiction is as part of a ’language of symbol and suggestion.’f[32] We are meant to ‘identify with the roles that people play, not with their physical description’[33] – that is recognise the relationships between characters and conflicts perhaps better than you would with the expected characters. For example, the lead character of Dune, Paul Atreides, is described as a teenage Duke’s son with superhuman abilities, but is in fact best understood as a messiah figure.

The most prominent example of both of these uses is the novel’s employment of aliens. Aliens are prevalent in science fiction – Roberts argues that ‘at the root of all science fiction lies the fantasy of the alien encounter’.[34] Clarke’s aliens, the Overlords, are not so much characters, but vessels used by Clarke to explore a range of issues, including many of those that Atwood describes as ‘things SF narratives can do that “novels” as usually defined cannot do.’[35] As such, the characterisation of the Overlords shifts as the issues change or evolve. So, we have already demonstrated that the plot is linked to the themes of the novel. Let us see how the shift of theme drives the character of the Overlords.

Atwood proposes that science fiction can ’interrogate social organization,’ and this is certainly the case in Childhood’s End.[36] In the first section, ‘Earth and the Overlords’, the Overlords are openly depicted as a colonial power. Karellen describes himself as a ‘civil servant trying to administer a colonial policy,’ and the groups who object to Overlord rule are said to feel like ‘much like a cultured Indian of the nineteenth century must have done as he contemplated the British Raj.’[37][38] Matthew Candelaria’s article “The Overlord’s Burden: The Source of Sorrow in Childhood’s End” goes into this aspect of the novel in great detail. He argues that ‘through their words and actions, the Overlords are quite clearly characterized as European, and, ultimately, British colonial administrators.’[39] While I disagree with his conclusion that the book shows the ‘ultimate morality’ of the colonial endeavour, and is an attempt ‘to extrapolate a colonial future, to give hope for future glory’ for the British Empire, partially on the grounds that he makes the common fallacy of assigning predictive qualities to science fiction writing, the evidence he uses certainly highlights the presence of colonialism in the text, if not necessarily the text’s support of these colonialist ideas.[40][41]

The most apposite points Candelaria makes is his comparisons of passages from Childhood’s End to works about the British Empire. He quotes Karellen’s assertion that the Overlords ’represent reason and science’ and that humanity fears they ’will overthrow their gods’ and calls it ’a refiguration of Orientalism: “The Oriental is irrational, depraved (fallen), childlike, ‘different; thus the European is rational, virtuous, mature, ‘normal'” [quoting Edward Said].’[42] He notes ‘the Overlords rule Earth using the British system of indirect rule,’ quoting Robert Stokes who believed it to be ‘the most valuable and successful of [the British Empire’s] Imperial experiments.’[43] He compares the ‘paternalistic affection’ of the Overlords to that claimed by Walter Crocker: ‘A characteristic of the average British officer is his instinctive sympathy for the African […] he always has a genuine liking for his charges.’[44]

Ultimately, Candelaria over-emphasises the importance of colonialism in the novel. It is certainly ’essential to an understanding’ of the opening section, but by the second, ’The Golden Age’, the depiction of the Overlords shifts to become more focused on religious themes.[45] Atwood notes ‘SF may create patterns that purport to depict the relationship of man to the universe, a depiction that takes us in the direction of religion.’[46] Indeed, it is argued that alien encounter science fiction ‘encounter necessarily plays upon and with religious ideas of faith, transcendence, and apotheosis.’[47] The manner in which the Overlords arrive (from the heavens) and the way ‘these aliens quickly assert their dominance over the Earth’ lead critics to compare them to religious figures.[49] Some go further, and claim the Overlords ‘are not merely god-like, they literally are gods,’ they ‘satisfy the same emotional needs.’[50] For example, when Karellen finally shows himself to humanity, it is described in language reminiscent of the Gospels:

A vast silence lay over the entire world for the space of twenty seconds – though, afterwards, no one could believe that the time had been so short. Then the darkness of the great opening seemed to move forward, and Karellen came forth into the sunlight. The boy was sitting on his left arm, the girl on his right.[51]

David N. Samuelson calls Karellen’s pose ’Christ-like.’[52]

Interestingly, the Overlords are described as demonic figures: ’the leathery wings, the little horns, the barbed tail.’[53] When their home world is described, it is in terms perhaps ‘reminiscent of Hell’.[54] It is lit by a ‘great red sun,’ ‘the architecture… bleakly functional,’ and a medieval man ‘would have certainly believed himself in hell.’[55] Samuelson notes the ‘Miltonic parallel of the Overlords’ having conquered this world after being forced to leave another’.[56] One might have expected the Overlords to appear as angelic, considering the Overlords are purportedly doing what is best for humanity, but we’ll discuss what the tonal implications of this inversion of expectations later.

Furthering the religious symbolism, the Overlords are revealed to be the servants of the Overmind, which ‘clearly parallels the Oversoul, the Great Spirit, and various formulations of God.’[57] Many of its properties, especially the fact it is known ‘only vaguely and indirectly,・ can be compared some to those often attributed to God.[58] The Overmind is described as having ‘left the tyranny of matter behind,・ evoking transcendence.[59] The Overlords ‘have never discovered what it is,・ which echoes the unknowability of God. [60] Its goal to ‘extend its powers and its awareness’ of the universe and its ‘conscious[ness] of intelligence everywhere’ evoke the traits of omnipotence and omniscience.[61] The Overlords display faith in the Overmind: it ‘judges when the time is ripe.[62] It sends the Overlords ‘to do its bidding’, and the ascension of the children to join the Overmind has been describes as ‘paralleling the mystical return of the soul to God.[63][64]

As the Overlords shift from being the highest power to being the faithful, humble servants of the highest power, the use of the Overlords shifts to exploring what Atwood calls ‘the nature and limits of what it means to be human.’[65] The Overlords are anthropomorphised throughout, since they communicate in English and show a human-like curiosity in psychic phenomena.[66] However, it is towards the end of the novel that it becomes most prominent. The realisation that ‘the Overlords were in fact in service to their subjects’ humbles them greatly.[67] Further, when it is revealed that the Overlords, unlike humanity and any number of other species that they have helped, are unable to ascend to the next evolutionary stage themselves, they become ‘figures of tragic limitation.’[68] They come to ‘represent the dead end of technological progress, and they become admirable mainly for their refusal to succumb to despair.’[69] We shift from admiring the ‘superior science and morality’ of the Overlords at the start of the novel to their ‘stoicism’ at its conclusion.[70]

We started this discussion by saying that Karellen, the primary representative of aliens in the novel, is ‘not a character [but] an idea.’[71] Indeed, he must be so in order to communicate the the novel’s themes effectively and clearly. It has also been argued that ‘alien-encounter SF, that which has as its narrative dominant the confrontation between terran representative and alien actant… necessarily keeps “the subject at the center”.’[72] What has been further shown by analysis is that Karellen is the ‘main protagonist’ of the novel, as it begins at the moment of his arrival and ends with Karellen alone.[73] Samuelson argues that Karellen’s ‘sense of tragedy makes him the most human of all,’ comparing him to ‘Milton’s Satan, [doomed] to a similarly tragic and isolated immortality.[74] This highlights ‘the paradox of the name science fiction.[75] In order to effectively communicate its ideas, the science fiction novel must work as fiction. A ‘language of symbol and suggestion’ cannot be effective if it is not engaging. The science fiction author must engage the reader emotionally, not simply intellectually, and the best go beyond presenting a satisfying plot and create characters which stimulate empathy. One of Dune‘s main strengths is its cast – Duke Leto Atreides, a ruler who feels the weight of his responsibilities, his Lady Jessica’s struggle between love and duty, their teenage son Paul, the reluctant hero ・ their strength as leaders is shown by sympathetically demonstrating their weaknesses, which invests the reader into watching them overcome them. Conversely, Gully Foyle in The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester is a hard, violent character, but we engage with his dogged determination. Thus, by portraying the Overlords with sympathy, Clarke is fulfilling a conventional requirement of science fiction.

Clarke has been praised for introducing ‘variations on the hoariest conventions’ of science fiction.[76] Clarke’s most interesting departure is a tonal one: the novel seems ambivalent about the issues raised in the text, and the outcomes that it extrapolates. It would be wrong to diminish this, as the conflicted tone is one of the pleasures of the novel, but it must be noted that departing from convention is itself a convention of science fiction. This relates back to the point that in order to communicate effectively, the novel must engage its reader, but also presenting ideas in a fresh way can reveal new aspects of them to the reader. However, to be completely innovative would detract attention away from the content of the work and into the way it is written, which would be detrimental to the communication. Therefore, in science fiction the innovation tends to be restricted to one or two areas of the novel.

For example, the short story version of “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes is written as a series of progress reports from the main character Charlie, who undergoes a surgical technique to triple his IQ from 68. The language of this epistolary short story progresses from prose like ‘Dr. Strauss says I shud rite down what I think and evrey thing that happins to me from now on’ into standard English as the treatment progresses, and then back again as the character declines.[77] The variation in the language communicates the progression in an interesting new way.  The Stars My Destination, however, innovates by featuring an anti-heroic lead character. The selfishness of Gully Foyle’s simple motivation of revenge allows Bester to convey man’s infinite potential through applied determination in a metaphorical way.

A convention of science fiction is that each story must resolve the issues raised in the text. This perhaps derives from the influence of John W. Campbell, the editor of leading pulp magazine Astounding Science Fiction, and thus responsible for forming and enforcing the conventions of science fiction, who ‘advised writers that the ending of a story “must solve the problems directly raised in the story.”’[78] It has been argued, however, that is common among all ‘imaginative fictions’ [to] accept and resolve contradictions.[79]

Childhood’s End is a good example of this. It posits the scenario that ‘the stars are not for man’, that humanity will not achieve space travel.[80] This is the main problem raised in the novel, and allows Clarke to explore a world in which scientific progress has stalled and become irrelevant to the progress of humanity. The resolution of this scenario comes with the reveal of the Overmind and the evolution of the children into becoming worthy of joining it. So, while the stars are not for man, they are available to the children, with the caveats that they are firstly no longer humans – they are the next stage after homo sapiens – and they achieve space travel, purpose, and this next evolutionary stage not by technological means, but by the intervention of aliens. In any case, the problem set up in the beginning of the novel – humans cannot go to the stars – is resolved fully at the end, when they do.

Dick, however, innovates in The Man in the High Castle by refusing to offer the reader satisfying resolutions. Their absence would be a failure to conform with the goals of science fiction, but Dick does not quite go that far. The Juliana character,  is searching for the eponymous Man, an author named Hawthorne Abendson who has written a novel called The Grasshopper where Germany and Japan had indeed lost the war. She does manage to track him and his wife down, and ask her questions. Juliana is satisfied by finding out that the novel was written in collaboration with the divination system I Ching, as she expected. She asks the I Ching what they were meant to learn from the text, and receives the answer ‘Inner Truth’, which indicates that the novel is true. This revelation resolves the text in accordance with convention. However, while Juliana seems content with the revelation, it troubles Abendson and his wife. Further, while Dick never overtly states this in the text, but demonstrates it through descriptions of the story by the characters, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy is not an accurate representation of our world. For example, the novel develops from the postulation that Franklin D. Roosevelt did not serve a third Presidential term, justified as in the reality of The Man in the High Castle his 1933 assassination succeeded. Therefore, it is not true, except in the broadest sense of depicting a world where Germany and Japan lost the Second World War.

Clarke’s innovations are in a similar vein to Dick’s, although we have already demonstrated that Clarke’s novel fully conform to the convention of resolution. In Childhood’s End, the departure in convention is from the tonal expectations of a science fiction novel. This is true of The Man in the High Castle, but there the tension is between the reality of the novel and ours – a tension which is inherent in a work of science fiction. The tension in Childhood’s End is an idealogical one. Broadly, science fiction engages either ‘the audience’s anxieties about science… [or its] hopes for science,’ pessimistic or optimistic.[81] Childhood’s End, however, seems torn between the two. It is telling that, in a foreword, Clarke disclaims that ‘the opinions expressed in this book are not those of the author.’[82] We shall, then, explore the instances and causes of tension between the message and the tone within the novel.

Clarke is often noted for his ‘complete faith that efficient technology will dominate the future.’[83] Indeed, the book does promote the ‘nature and importance of progress.’[84] However, in this work ‘technological progress is not true progress, merely a test of man’s moral and intellectual energies,’ since ‘the leap from human to Overmind is achieved by grace, not by man’s own works.’[85] Huntington’s choice of religious language is telling. The novel can be said to contain ‘a streak of sentimental mysticism,’ but also a sense of ‘subtle pessimism,’ which in uncharacteristic for Clarke.[86][87]

As we have noted, there is a tension in the depiction of aliens in the novel. Part of the tension derives from Clarke’s use of religious imagery when describing the aliens. By describing the aliens as the traditional image of devils, Clarke necessarily introduces the ‘alliance in medieval Christian tradition between the Devil and forbidden knowledge, including science,’ into the novel.[88] Science therefore becomes not a positive force, aligned with the progress of mankind, but a negative one, a Promethean act that leads to the destruction of mankind.

Indeed, mankind is destroyed in the novel. Once it is revealed that humanity is redundant, some decide to wait their lives out, but many decide to commit suicide, and the colony of New Athens blew itself up. The novel seems to focus on those with the more negative, and almost makes their decision noble: Athens ‘had been born in fire; in fire it chose to die.’[89] Among the suicides are those ‘who had set more store by the future than the past,’ a reasonable description of those authors positive about the progression of science such as Asimov and indeed Clarke himself.[90]

This demonstrates the ‘dramatised sense of loss’ within the novel.[91] Part of the motive of this tone is the ‘fear of dehumanisation in the face of the stars.[92] This is shown in the novel in the description of the children during transformation. Usually in Clarke’s work, for example 2001: A Space Odyssey, ‘children appear as symbols of hope for the future.’[93] Indeed, it is through them that humanity will achieve their future, one beyond the means of the Overlords. However, they become inhuman in order to do so. They are described, from the perspective of the last human Jan, as having faces ’emptier than the faces of the dead… no more emotion or feeling here than in the face of an insect. The Overlords were more human than this.’[94] They destroy all other life on earth in a ‘flicker’ for the mere reason that ‘other minds disturbed them.’[95] The ‘final image in Clarke’s reader’s mind is not transcendent humanity’ as the children ascend to join the Overmind. Their ascendency is described in breathless dialogue by Jan, who does describe ‘a wave of emotion… a sense of fulfilment, achievement’ passing over him, but since his dialogue is cut short by the children’s actions causing his death, your emotions are with the death of the last member of humanity rather than the joy of its new phase.[96]

Even the nature of the Overmind is ripe with ambiguity. It is not an experiential ambiguity, as one of the great strengths of the novel is that ‘one gets a sense of what it is like to comprehend a reality and a mind beyond the range of normal human perception and thought.’[97] It is the symbolic nature of the Overmind that is ambiguous. Since it represents ‘both a mysterious transcendence and an expression of qualities potential in mankind,’ it ‘represents both progress and stasis.’[98] By moving ‘higher and higher, from man through Overlord to Overmind,’ humanity is ‘also returning to the same level.’[99] Further, humanity must lose itself, not only the characteristics of each individual human but those unique to the race, in order to become submerged in this greater whole.

The final image is that of Karellen, heading home. It emphasises tonally that the Overlords, ambassadors for science within the novel, are an ‘individualistic, isolated [species], able to understand things only by approximations from the outside.’[100] The work ‘establishes a growing tension between conflicting emotions… the reader is almost forced to make a choice between two extreme positions – he must choose to be an Overlord and follow science, or by ‘submerging his individuality’ become part of a higher power.[101] It is ambiguous in the novel which outcome the reader must be emotionally invested in coming to pass, or indeed whether both paths seem unpalatable. This ambiguity is part of the power of the novel, and what makes it stand out in the canon of science fiction.

We have demonstrated, then, how Clarke uses the tropes of science fiction to tell a story  about man’s relationship with science and their place in the universe, themes uniquely suited to the form. Some readers may find Clarke’s prose holds to Sanders’ criticism of his naivety, or the more charitable argument that ‘[science fiction] writers bite off more than they can profitably chew’ but it is indeed ‘an honourable fault’, as it simply the reflection of science fiction’s central strengths of ambition and imagination.[102] What a good work of science fiction offers us is a means to explore these bigger questions, and like the best of its authors, Clarke ‘faced [them] squarely and answered with frightening candor.’ [103] These conclusions stimulate the reader to think further on the issues raised more than an open-ended form can encourage, and show science fiction to be uniquely suited to exploring these larger ideas. As Atwood says, the form has ‘subsumed the mythic areas abandoned by literature’ after the 18th century.[104] It has done so with a rigorous intelligence and in a fantastically readable way.

Bibliography

Primary

Bester, Alfred, The Stars My Destination, (London: Gollancz, 1999)

Clarke, Arthur C., Childhood’s End (London: Pan, 1990)

Dick, Philip K., The Man in the High Castle (London: Penguin, 2001)

Herbert, Frank, Dune (London: New English Library, 1992)

Kelly, James Patrick and John Kessel, eds., The Secret History of Science Fiction (San Francisco, CA: Tachyon, 2009)

Keyes, Daniel, “Flowers for Algernon” (1959) <http://dorinta19.bizland.ro/FLOWERS%20FOR%20ALGERNON%20.htm> [accessed 17 January 2013]

 LeGuin, Ursula K., The Left Hand of Darkness (London: Orbit, 1981)

Secondary

Aldiss, Brian and David Wingrove, Trillion Year Spree (London: House of Stratus, 2001)

Amis, Kinglsley, ed, The Golden Age of Science Fiction (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1983)

Atwood, Margaret, In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination (London: Virago, 2011)

Beale, Lewis, ‘Film: A Genre of the Intellect With Little Use for Ideas’, The New York Times, 8 July 2001

Candelaria, Matthew, ‘The Overlord’s Burden: The Source of Sorrow in Childhood’s End’, ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature 33, no. 1, (2002): 37-58

Davenport, Basil, ‘The End, and the Beginning, of Man’, The New York Times, 23 August 1953

Du Bois, William, ‘Childhood’s End’, New York Times, 27 August 1953

‘Hugo Award History, The Hugo Awards, <http://www.thehugoawards.org/hugo-history/> [accessed 17 January 2013]

Huntington, John, ‘Science Fiction and the future’, College English 37, No. 4 (1975): 345-352

Huntington, John, ‘The Unity of “Childhood’s End”‘, Science Fiction Studies 1, No. 3 (1974): 154-164

Carl D. Malmgren, ‘Self and Other in SF: Alien Encounters’, Science Fiction Studies 20, No. 1 (1993): 15-33

Roberts, Adam, Science Fiction (London: Routledge, 2000)

Samuelson, David N., ‘Childhood’s End: A Median Stage of Adolescence?’, Science Fiction Studies 1, No. 1, <http://www.depauw.edu/sfs/backissues/1/samuelson1art.htm> [Accessed 17 January 2013]

Sanders, Scott, ‘Review: Arthur C. Clarke by Joseph D. Olander; Martin Harry Greenberg’, Science Fiction Studies 5, No. 2 (1978): 180-181

Saricks, Joyce G., Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction (2nd Edition) (Chicago, IL: American Library Association Editions, 2009)


[1] Quoted in Adam Roberts, Science Fiction (London: Routledge, 2000), p. 27

[2] Kingsley Amis, ed, The Golden Age of Science Fiction (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1983), p. 11

[3] William Du Bois, ‘Childhood’s End’, New York Times, 27 August 1953

[4] Margaret Atwood, In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination (London: Virago, 2011), pp. 5-6

[5] James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel, eds., The Secret History of Science Fiction (San Francisco, CA: Tachyon, 2009), p. 13

[6]Joyce G. Saricks, Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction (2nd Edition) (Chicago, IL: American Library Association Editions, 2009), p. 117

[7] John Huntington, ‘Science Fiction and the future’, College English 37, No. 4 (1975): 345-352 (p. 352)

[8] Atwood, In Other Worlds, p. 7

[9] Ibid. p. 3

[10] ‘Hugo Award History, The Hugo Awards, <http://www.thehugoawards.org/hugo-history/> [accessed 17 January 2013]

[11] Kelly and Kessel, Secret History, p. 14

[12]  Roberts, Science Fiction, p. 10

[13] Lewis Beale, ‘Film: A Genre of the Intellect With Little Use for Ideas’, The New York Times, 8 July 2001

[14] Roberts, Science Fiction, pp. 35-6

[15]  Atwood, In Other Worlds, p. 61

[16]  Roberts, Science Fiction, pp. 35-6

[17] Ibid.

[18] Huntington, ‘Science Fiction and the future’, p. 351

[19] Atwood, In Other Worlds, p. 59

[20] Brian Aldiss and David Wingrove, Trillion Year Spree (London: House of Stratus, 2001), p. 11

[21] ‘Hugo Award History’

[22] Basil Davenport, ‘The End, and the Beginning, of Man’, The New York Times, 23 August 1953

[23] Du Bois, ‘Childhood’s End’

[24] Scott Sanders, ‘Review: Arthur C. Clarke by Joseph D. Olander; Martin Harry Greenberg’, Science Fiction Studies 5, No. 2 (1978): 180-181 (p. 180)

[25] Ibid. p. 180

[26] Arthur C. Clarke, Childhood’s End (London: Pan, 1990) pp. 102-119

[27]  Aldiss, Trillion Year Spree, p. vii

[28] Huntington, ‘Science Fiction and the future’, p. 349

[29] John Huntington, ‘The Unity of “Childhood’s End”‘, Science Fiction Studies 1, No. 3 (1974): 154-164 (p. 161)

[30]  Aldiss, Trillion Year Spree, p. 467

[31] Huntington, ‘The Unity of “Childhood’s End”‘, p. 159

[32] Ibid. p. 155

[33] Matthew Candelaria, ‘The Overlord’s Burden: The Source of Sorrow in Childhood’s End’, ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature 33, no. 1, (2002): 37-58 (p. 49)

[34] Roberts, Science Fiction, p. 28

[35]  Atwood, In Our Worlds, p. 62

[36] Ibid.

[37] Clarke, Childhood’s End, p. 12

[38] Ibid p. 19

[39] Candelaria, ‘The Overlord’s Burden’, p. 39

[40] Ibid. p. 38

[41] Ibid. p. 57

[42] Ibid. p. 40

[43] Ibid. p. 41

[44] Ibid.

[45] Ibid. p. 37

[46]  Atwood, In Other Worlds, p. 63

[47] Carl D. Malmgren, ‘Self and Other in SF: Alien Encounters’, Science Fiction Studies 20, No. 1 (1993): 15-33  (p. 31)

[48] Sanders, ‘Review’, p. 181

[49] Candelaria, ‘The Overlord’s Burden’, p. 39

[50] Sanders, ‘Review’, p. 181

[51] Clarke, Childhood’s End, p. 56

[52] Samuelson, David N., ‘Childhood’s End: A Median Stage of Adolescence?’, Science Fiction Studies 1, No. 1, <http://www.depauw.edu/sfs/backissues/1/samuelson1art.htm&gt; [Accessed 17 January 2013]

[53] Clarke, Childhood’s End, p. 56

[54] Samuelson, ‘Childhood’s End’

[55] Clarke, Childhood’s End, pp. 174-7

[56] Samuelson, ‘Childhood’s End’

[57] Ibid.

[58] Ibid.

[59] Clarke, Childhood’s End, p. 167

[60] Ibid.

[61] Clarke, Childhood’s End pp. 167-8

[62] Ibid.

[63] Ibid.

[64] Samuelson, ‘Childhood’s End’

[65] Atwood, In Other Worlds, p. 62

[66] Clarke, Childhood’s End, p. 74

[67] Candelaria, ‘The Overlord’s Burden’, p .55

[68] Huntington, ‘The Unity of “Childhood’s End”‘, p. 158

[69] Ibid.

[70] Ibid. p. 158-9

[71] Sanders, ‘Review’, p. 180

[72] Malmgren, ‘Self and Other in SF’, p. 15

[73] Candelaria, ‘The Overlord’s Burden’, p. 54

[74] Samuelson, ‘Childhood’s End’

[75] Huntington, ‘Science Fiction and the future’, p. 347

[76] Sanders, ‘Review’, p. 180

[77] Keyes, Daniel, “Flowers for Algernon” (1959) <http://dorinta19.bizland.ro/FLOWERS%20FOR%20ALGERNON%20.htm&gt; [accessed 17 January 2013]

[78]  Huntington, ‘Science Fiction and the future’, p. 348

[79] Huntington, ‘The Unity of “Childhood’s End”‘, p. 162

[80] Clarke, Childhood’s End, p. 123

[81]  Huntington, ‘Science Fiction and the future’, p. 348

[82] Clarke, Childhood’s End, p. vi

[83] Huntington, ‘The Unity of “Childhood’s End”‘, p. 155

[84] Ibid. p. 154

[85] Ibid. p. 156

[86] Samuelson, ‘Childhood’s End’

[87] Candelaria, ‘The Overlord’s Burden’, p. 37

[88] Samuelson, ‘Childhood’s End’

[89] Clarke, Childhood’s End p. 171

[90] Ibid.

[91] Aldiss, Trillion  Year Spree, p. 273

[92] Ibid. p. 274

[93] Candelaria, ‘The Overlord’s Burden’ p. 37

[94] Clarke, Childhood’s End, p. 185

[95] Ibid. p. 187

[96] Ibid. p. 198

[97]  Huntington, ‘Science Fiction and the future’, p. 349

[98] Huntington, ‘The Unity of “Childhood’s End”‘, p. 159

[99] Ibid.

[100] Samuelson, ‘Childhood’s End’

[101] Ibid.

[102] Aldiss, Trillion Year Spree, p. 9

[103]  Du Bois, ‘Childhood’s End’

[104] Atwood, In Other Worlds,  p. 56

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