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Six decades after the publication of Arthur C. Clarke's acclaimed science-fiction novel "Childhood's End," it's finally been adapted for the screen.

The television screen, that is. The project has been in development at various studios as a miniseries and a theatrical film since the 1960s but never came to fruition — until the Syfy Channel turned it into a three-part, six-hour event.

As you'd expect, it's not a page-by-page re-creation, but this "Childhood's End" captures the spirit and the narrative of the novel.

"As people who love the book ourselves, we felt a responsibility to do it justice," said executive producer Michael DeLuca. "We talked about feeling a pressure to do it the right way and honor it, but mostly we came from a place of really loving it and wanting to please ourselves.

"But we thought in pleasing ourselves we'd please the fans, because we were fans."

"Childhood's End" is the story of a seemingly peaceful alien invasion. One day, a fleet of enormous spaceships appears in the Earth's atmosphere, and a mysterious race known as the Overlords announce that they are here to help, not hurt, humans.

War, poverty and disease are eradicated from the Earth. The planet becomes a utopia.

But is there a price to pay? There are certainly humans who suspect the Overlords have evil intent.

"That's really the unique thing about 'Childhood's End,' because it's an alien invasion, so to speak, but it's not fighting aliens," said Daisy Betts, who stars as Ellie. "It's just this presence and it's kind of eerie in that way. And they do give us what we all supposedly want, which makes it all a bit creepy.

"And ultimately, it's quite a dark show and it goes to disturbing places."

That disturbing quality definitely has not been lost in the adaptation written by executive producer Matthew Graham ("Doctor Who," "Life On Mars").

In turning it into a miniseries, there have been a number of changes. Clarke's novel was published in 1953 and was set in the late 20th century; the TV adaptation has been moved to the present day.

In the novel, the intermediary between humans and the Overlords is Rikki Stormgren, the secretary general of the United Nations. In the miniseries, young Midwestern farmer Ricky Stormgren (Mike Vogel, "Under the Dome") is selected to be that intermediary.

The timeline is compressed. Instead of humans having to wait 50 years to meet the Overlords and learn what they look like, they only have to wait 15 years. But that meeting — a pivotal point in the story — still carries the same impact.

Graham, who read the book when he was 14, recalled "being absolutely obsessed with wondering what the Overlords looked like … and being amazed that it actually went to the place that it went to. And that there was no compromise on the journey that it put us on."

There's no compromise in his adaptation, either. Part 2 of the miniseries greatly expands on a theme that is dispensed with in a very brief, matter-of-fact manner in the book.

"It's literally, like, a paragraph in the book where it says, 'And the Overlords helped us dispense with the notions of religion and we put all those away,' " said Graham. "And then the book moves on."

Graham played that up in Part 2 — the idea of "persuading an entire planet to give up its religious beliefs."

It is, arguably, brave to portray that in 2015; it would have been, arguably, impossible in the 1960s and beyond.

"The book was not made for so many years because for the longest time it was thought to be blasphemous," Vogel said.

"Childhood's End" is, however, science fiction. Disturbing science fiction, even 62 years after the novel was published.

Twitter: @ScottDPierce —


The three parts of "Childhood's End" premiere Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 9 p.m. on Comcast; 6 p.m. on DirecTV and Dish.

There will be multiple repeats.