YMMV: Childhood's End

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: It's deliberately left ambiguous if the Overmind is just in its manipulation and eventual assimilation of sentient races. The Overlords believe that it's a good thing, but they're basically the Overmind's slaves.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: The Overlords think it's a happy ending, the idea that the children of the final generation of humans Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence, but it still involves the extinction of humanity, and the "ascended" children are a bunch of feral psychic monsters that get assimilated into a Hive Mind. Not to mention the Overmind has done this possibly hundreds of sentient races, and only the Overlords say this is a good thing. If a different science fiction work kept the same basic plot and cast the aliens as villains, most people wouldn't question their action as villainous.
  • Never Live It Down: In-verse. The leader of the island community admits that as a Jew, he never really got over his faith being discredited or his old homeland (Israel) giving up its independence so soon after it attained it thanks to the Overlords. Still, he doesn't have any particular grudge against them.
  • Older Than They Think: Clarke joked in his updated prologue that new readers will think that the opening scene with the fleet of alien ships blocking the sun was ripped off from Independence Day (despite this being written in 1953!). In fact, Clarke himself knew of an even earlier story with the same scene.
    "...I am also informed that its opening is identical to that of Childhood's End (1953) and that it contains every known science fiction cliché since Méliès' A Trip to the Moon (1903)."
    Arthur C. Clarke, in the Sources and Acknowledgments section of 3001
  • Uncanny Valley: The faces of the new generation, which resembles the type of 'average face' created by compositing many photos together and is even more expressionless than a corpse.
  • Values Dissonance: The book was written when feminism was in its early stages, so there are a few jarringly sexist things with the men running the show and Jean only acclimating to New Athens when she learns to appreciate the kitchen.
    • It also attempts to challenge racism through making "nigger" a polite description no more taboo than "republican".
    • The offhanded way that the extinction of everything else on planet Earth is treated as a necessary sacrifice (despite there being plenty of lifeless planets in the solar system that could've provided the necessary energy) seems a lot harsher now than it probably did in the Fifties.