Reviews: Clarke, Arthur C.

My money is on “abomination”

Childhood’s End — Arthur C. Clarke & Tony Mulholland

This review was inspired by the news that the Syfy network, perhaps best known for renaming itself after the Polish term for syphilis, had acquired the rights to Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End . The jury is still out whether the Syfy version will be a full scale abomination, like their adaptation of Earthsea, or merely wretched, like most of the rest of their product. Until the full extent of the horror of this adaptation is revealed, I thought it would be fun to look at—sorry, listen to—a previous adaptation by a considerably more reputable organization with a long history of presenting SF works. I speak, of course, of the two-hour audio adaptation BBC 4 aired back in 1997.

As soon as the radio play opens, it is clear that events have developed not necessarily to Earth’s advantage. The frame: a distressed Jan Rodericks reports to an entity named Karellen, narrating the ongoing destruction of the Earth.


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A rare utopian future America

Imperial Earth — Arthur C. Clarke

1976’s Imperial Earth was published the year of the United State’s bicentennial. This wasn’t one of the USA’s better periods; oil shocks, stagflation, and political scandal had marred the first half of the decade. Other SF authors might have decided to revel in the doom and gloom of the era — and they did — but Clarke instead chose to take the reader on a tour of what is likely as close to a utopian US as any SF writer has ever imagined.

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