Arthur C. Clarke:
Novels of alien invasion are as common as dirt; however, peaceful alien invasions are a far rarer breed of story. Beginning with “Guardian Angel,” Clarke began laying the groundwork for the magnificent chronicle of the interaction with humanity by the mysterious Overlords who seem entirely benign in intent. Clarke’s tale of the end of the human race as we understand it is an epic on the level of Olaf Stapledon’s Last and First Men and Star Maker.
The title of the work itself gives you the basic plot: the Overlords are here to help humanity transition to its maturity. The tale of how this unfolds is what makes Childhood’s End such a classic work. From the shocking revelation of the Overlords’ appearance, to a stowaway’s forty light-year journey to the Overlords’ home world to the beginning of what the human race is evolving into, this is truly an epic saga. After five decades of prosperity under the watchful eyes of the Overlords, we see that the humanity’s future is that of a group mind, one that will be united with an even vaster one as part of the Overmind.
The novel was Clarke’s first true success as a novelist, selling out its first printing of over 200,000 copies rather quickly. Long considered to be Clarke’s best work, the book is rightfully regarded as one of the true enduring classics of the genre. Over six decades after its first publication this powerful tale of transformation and triumph remains as fresh and optimistic as it was in 1953.
Against the Fall of Night was originally written as a novella for Startling Stories. However, realizing that there was a more involved story to tell, Clarke revised and expanded the story in 1951 to novel length, where it was published two years later by the legendary Gnome Press. It was then completely revised and published as The City and the Stars in 1956. The City and the Stars has since been recognized as an all-time classic, ranking highly in the coveted “All-Time Best Novel” awards from Locus in 1975, 1987, and 1988.
This is the first time that these classic and important works have received the lavish presentation that they deserve. The City and the Stars features a new introduction by Robert Silverberg and new cover and interior artwork by Bob Eggleton.
Best viewed as complementary rather than competing works, The City and the Stars was published a scant three years after the landmark appearance of Against the Fall of Night. The world building of Diaspar and Lys is nothing short of remarkable as are the discoveries that Alvin and Rorden make on their journey, not the least of which is the chilling discovery of a being called the “Mad Mind” that is (at least for now) imprisoned.
For an author to revise and re-publish such a recent and well-thought-of work as Against the Fall of Night was a bold move that many feared would irreparably damage Clarke’s career. Fortunately, nothing could be further from the truth; not only did he produce a worthy successor to the original, but he succeeded in elevating both novels as a result.
Each book features double-page title page artwork in full color, and reproductions of old editions of each book, all reprinted in color as well.
The Centipede Press edition is limited to 300 copies. Signed by Jack Dann and David Ho. Introduction by Jack Dann. Interview with Arthur C. Clarke. The story “Guardian Angel”. Several reproductions of covers of older editions of the book. Printed at a luxurious size of 6¼ × 10 inches, the book features full wraparound dustjacket work, full cloth binding, two color stamping, blind stamping on front board, two-part signature page, handsome cloth slipcase, and the usual extras you expect.
Years ago, aficionados of science fiction used to speak of “The Big Three,” referring to the giants of the field Asimov, Heinlein, and Clarke. The passing years have shown us that Sir Arthur C. Clarke stands as one of the most memorable voices that the field has produced. Centipede Press have produced two of Clarke’s classics in a new double-volume edition: The City and the Stars and Against the Fall of Night.