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This limited edition facsimile reprint volume is a complete reproduction of the original first edition (published by Gnome Press in 1953) and includes a full-color dust jacket, protective slipcase, and biographical information about the author. Hidden throughout a future America of 1972 are a group of incredibly gifted children. All roughly the same age, all preternaturally This limited edition facsimile reprint volume is a complete reproduction of the original first edition (published by Gnome Press in 1953) and includes a full-color dust jacket, protective slipcase, and biographical information about the author. Hidden throughout a future America of 1972 are a group of incredibly gifted children. All roughly the same age, all preternaturally intelligent, and all hiding their abilities from a world they know will not understand them. They are Wilmar Shiras Children of the Atom, the results of an unintended experiment in genetic mutation. Born to workers caught in an explosion at an atomic weapons facility, these remarkable youths were orphaned just a few months after birth when their parents succumbed to delayed effects from the blast. Now they are in their early teens, scattered across the country, each unaware of the others existence. But beginning with the introduction of 13-year-old Timothy Paul to school psychiatrist Dr. Peter Welles, all that is about to change. After identifying Timothy and his fellow prodigies for what they are and for what their potential might be Dr. Welles commits himself to gathering these Wonder Children into an experimental new school, both to harness their intellectual abilities and to protect them from the jealous suspicions of the normal population. At this new Academy, teachers and students alike throw themselves into discussion and learning, laying the groundwork for what they hope will become a rich new chapter in human history. But once the Children of the Atom are all in one place, keeping their existence a secret becomes more and more of a challenge, and escalating events soon force a reckoning not only among the Wonder Children themselves, but also with the larger society that lies just outside their sanctuary's walls. And although it was to be the only book that Shiras would publish in the genre, Children of the Atom has earned its author an honored place among science fiction's pantheon of creators in 2002, the Science Fiction Book Club named it one of the Most Significant Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of the Last 50 Years. Shiras passed away in 1990.


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This limited edition facsimile reprint volume is a complete reproduction of the original first edition (published by Gnome Press in 1953) and includes a full-color dust jacket, protective slipcase, and biographical information about the author. Hidden throughout a future America of 1972 are a group of incredibly gifted children. All roughly the same age, all preternaturally This limited edition facsimile reprint volume is a complete reproduction of the original first edition (published by Gnome Press in 1953) and includes a full-color dust jacket, protective slipcase, and biographical information about the author. Hidden throughout a future America of 1972 are a group of incredibly gifted children. All roughly the same age, all preternaturally intelligent, and all hiding their abilities from a world they know will not understand them. They are Wilmar Shiras Children of the Atom, the results of an unintended experiment in genetic mutation. Born to workers caught in an explosion at an atomic weapons facility, these remarkable youths were orphaned just a few months after birth when their parents succumbed to delayed effects from the blast. Now they are in their early teens, scattered across the country, each unaware of the others existence. But beginning with the introduction of 13-year-old Timothy Paul to school psychiatrist Dr. Peter Welles, all that is about to change. After identifying Timothy and his fellow prodigies for what they are and for what their potential might be Dr. Welles commits himself to gathering these Wonder Children into an experimental new school, both to harness their intellectual abilities and to protect them from the jealous suspicions of the normal population. At this new Academy, teachers and students alike throw themselves into discussion and learning, laying the groundwork for what they hope will become a rich new chapter in human history. But once the Children of the Atom are all in one place, keeping their existence a secret becomes more and more of a challenge, and escalating events soon force a reckoning not only among the Wonder Children themselves, but also with the larger society that lies just outside their sanctuary's walls. And although it was to be the only book that Shiras would publish in the genre, Children of the Atom has earned its author an honored place among science fiction's pantheon of creators in 2002, the Science Fiction Book Club named it one of the Most Significant Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of the Last 50 Years. Shiras passed away in 1990.

30 review for Children of the Atom

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mary JL

    This book is actually five short stories liked together. the five stories are: In Hiding; Opening Doors;New Foundations; Problems and Children of the Atom. Published in book form in 1953, these stories concern a group of incredibly gifted children. Their parents were caught in an atomic experiement in 1958, and all died with two years. But all the surviving children of these parents are so intelligent that no Iq test can measure their level of intelligence. Many of these children, in their teens h This book is actually five short stories liked together. the five stories are: In Hiding; Opening Doors;New Foundations; Problems and Children of the Atom. Published in book form in 1953, these stories concern a group of incredibly gifted children. Their parents were caught in an atomic experiement in 1958, and all died with two years. But all the surviving children of these parents are so intelligent that no Iq test can measure their level of intelligence. Many of these children, in their teens have written adult books; pateneted ideas; learned college level subjects and so on. The stories are character driven; and a bit talky. Also, somewhat dated. Still the premise is interesting and there are some interesting ideas here. The book is quite short---182 pages--most SF readers could finish it in one evening and I do strongly recommend at least one try. It has always been a favorite of mine. Note: If time is pressing or you are uncertain, I recommend you read the first 34 pages--the short story "In Hiding". Then if you are not interest, quit--if you like it, finish the book. "In Hiding" is the best written of the five parts, imho. It is also the best known of the five stories, having been in various anthologies. Recommended for any SF fan; those with an interest in pyschology, and anyone who like books about unusual children. Read before I joined Goodreads, so date unknown.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    What I am reviewing here is not actually "Children of the Atom". Rather it is the three linked novelettes published by Shiras in "Astounding Science Fiction" between 1948 and 1950. In 1953 the author integrated new material and this volume became "Children of the Atom" I have ordered a copy and will review it when it arrives in a month or so. The three novelettes first published were "In Hiding" (1948), "Opening Doors" (March, 1949) and "New Foundations" (March, 1950). All three are well-written What I am reviewing here is not actually "Children of the Atom". Rather it is the three linked novelettes published by Shiras in "Astounding Science Fiction" between 1948 and 1950. In 1953 the author integrated new material and this volume became "Children of the Atom" I have ordered a copy and will review it when it arrives in a month or so. The three novelettes first published were "In Hiding" (1948), "Opening Doors" (March, 1949) and "New Foundations" (March, 1950). All three are well-written, but the first is an acknowledged classic and has frequently been anthologized separately. The plot deals with children whose intellects have mutated to super-human levels. The adults in the story are involved in attempting to help the children find their places in human society. The setting is in the fifties and this naturally conditions the types of decisions, motives, and assumptions within the story. The writing is very delicately controlled and the over-all effect is gentle and sensitive. The characters are well-drawn and have psychological depth. The three stories do create a logical cycle but there is little doubt that the readers wanted more and three years later Wilmar Shiras obliged with the novel. UPDATE I have finished the full novel and have consequently upgraded the rating to five stars. Whether or not this book was the initial inspiration for "The Uncanny X-Men", it has its own quite distinct character. It is an engaging and rather gentle story, though the darker aspects of human nature are not altogether ignored. The author seems to have a distinct interest in Thomistic scholastic philosophy as well as Jungian psychology--and a clear understanding of children. While the setting is the world of America in the mid-twentieth century, the novel as aged well and deserves its high reputation.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Dhu

    Wilmar Shiras' Children of the Atom is in many ways a classic 1950s sf "thoughtpiece" novel. There's a great deal of dialogue, not a lot of action, and it is unashamedly didactic. Even so, I enjoyed it very much, for reasons which may be somewhat idiosyncratic. The plot of the novel is quite simple. School psychologist Peter Welles is called in to talk to a young teenager, Tim, who seems to be completely ordinary in every way - but his teacher senses that something is not quite as it seems and is Wilmar Shiras' Children of the Atom is in many ways a classic 1950s sf "thoughtpiece" novel. There's a great deal of dialogue, not a lot of action, and it is unashamedly didactic. Even so, I enjoyed it very much, for reasons which may be somewhat idiosyncratic. The plot of the novel is quite simple. School psychologist Peter Welles is called in to talk to a young teenager, Tim, who seems to be completely ordinary in every way - but his teacher senses that something is not quite as it seems and is worried about him. Welles quickly discovers that Tim is in fact a super-intelligent and very lonely child pretending to be normal - that this is in fact his survival strategy, but what he needs most is friendship and real intellectual stimulation. Having learned that Tim, an orphan raised by his grandparents, was born shortly after his parents were exposed to high levels of radiation in an explosion in a nuclear weapons plant, Welles reasons that there are others like Tim, and the two set out to find them. Not al the children have been as lucky in finding ways to avoid drawing attention to themselves - the first child they find, Elsie, is a patient in a mental hospital - nor have all the children grown up as well-adjusted - one child, Fred, displays a serious lack of empathy and emotional affect, having devoted himself entirely to intellectual development. These issues, however, are addressed with relative ease once Welles manages to bring all the children he can find together in one community under the guidance of several well-chosen adults unthreatened by the extreme abilities of these "Children of the atom." Late in the story, the children and their community are threatened by a rabble-rousing preacher who has heard some of the details about the children and launches a pogrom against these "malevolent mutants" - but the mob that attacks the school is quieted when they see Tim, a boy that many of them have known in their community as the classmate of their children and the boy who delivered their evening paper for some years. They also recognise Pete Welles, the kindly school psychologist and another of the adults, who was a local teacher. This incident brings the children to a realisation that the only way to avoid future threats is to integrate themselves into the larger community, which they decide to do by attending "normal" school but continuing to live in their own community until they can go out into the world as adults. Several things struck me about this novel. First, the powerful "cult of psychology" that was such a key element of middle class culture in the 1950s, and how the novel could never have been constructed as it was without this. Second, the focus on Jungian rather than Freudian psychology - rather a departure from the norm, although it's possible that Shiras did not want to have to deal with Freud's theories of psychosexual development in astory dealing with young teens. Since I personally prefer Jung to Freud, this was part of what I enjoyed about the novel - seeing the children apply Jung's thinking about the anima/animus and the four basic personality functions to their own development as balanced human beings. I was also struck by the resolution and its belief that if the different among us become integrated into the overall community, that difference will cease to be seen as threatening or evil. It reminded me of the frequently cited finding that one of the key factors in acceptance of marriage equality is knowing someone who is gay. The thing that made this story so very real and resonant for me, however, is that to a les extreme degree, This was one big part of my life story. I know that IQ tests are inherently flawed in many ways, but the fact that I topped out of the Stanford-Binet superior adult battery of tests at age eight is an indication that there was something not quite normal about me as a child. I knew it, the adults around me knew it, and above all,the other kids knew it - and they were none too pleasant about it. My social development was awkward and delayed, to say the least. I ran a real risk of becoming all intellect and nothing else, because my mind was what made me important enough to adults that they protected me from the other children. And then I and a few others like me were saved, quite literally, by a group of educational psychologists who were trying to figure out how to teach the gifted child, and picked eight of us who tested the highest in our grade in the whole city to be their guinea pigs. It only lasted a few years, but the wide-open curriculum, the total acceptance, support and emotional guidance of the adults looking over us (there was little need to teach, just to let us loose in libraries, museums, laboratories, and make sure we didn't accidentally harm anything) and the utter bliss of being able to play as a child with other children in ways that were true both to our developing social natures and our advanced intellectual accomplishments - these things are a large part of what made me the at least somewhat well-adjusted person I am today, and helped me learn to move comfortably in the midst of people who had once tortured me for being different. I saw a lot of myself, magnified by the lens of science fiction, in Wilmar Shiras' Children of the Atom.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tom Britz

    Children of The Atom was written as a series of short stories beginning in 1948. However it never really read like it was dated at all. The basic story, which is rumored to be a precursor to The X-men(minus the super powers other than intellect). I found the stories to be prescient and the characters to be fully formed and believable. This was one of the better books I've read this year.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Whyte

    http://nhw.livejournal.com/1056925.html[return][return]On that list of the 100 most influential sf books that was going round a year or so ago, this was the only one whose author I simply had never heard of. It is set twenty years in the future (ie 1973), and revolves around the assembling of a group of children whose parents all died after a nuclear accident in 1959, and who all display exceptional intelligence. At the end of the book, the children decide that they must integrate into the mains http://nhw.livejournal.com/1056925.html[return][return]On that list of the 100 most influential sf books that was going round a year or so ago, this was the only one whose author I simply had never heard of. It is set twenty years in the future (ie 1973), and revolves around the assembling of a group of children whose parents all died after a nuclear accident in 1959, and who all display exceptional intelligence. At the end of the book, the children decide that they must integrate into the mainstream of society.[return][return]It's obviously at least in part a parable of fandom / geekdom, but a rather effective one. Definitely an under-rated classic.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    170804: of its era late 1940s-early 1950s. didactic, dialogic, monologic. portrayal of gathering, education, psychology of exceptionally intelligent children in america imagined as liberal/democratic and caring society. series of linked short stories. faith in intelligence as solution/understanding of human problems, creation/tech and art for general welfare. faith seems somewhat naive but pleasant: everything solved if we just got together and... talked? i am not overwhelmingly convinced intell 170804: of its era late 1940s-early 1950s. didactic, dialogic, monologic. portrayal of gathering, education, psychology of exceptionally intelligent children in america imagined as liberal/democratic and caring society. series of linked short stories. faith in intelligence as solution/understanding of human problems, creation/tech and art for general welfare. faith seems somewhat naive but pleasant: everything solved if we just got together and... talked? i am not overwhelmingly convinced intelligence is always answer, but then ignorance is definitely not... have to say i prefer 'more than human' by sturgeon, as a portrayal of super human beings: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Merrill

    A small group of super-intelligent children try to start their own school with the help of a few adults who know their secret: their parents died from an atomic blast, but not before giving birth to these extraordinary babies with super talents (not superheroes). They're all terribly lonely because they have to hide their intellect from others lest they be labeled freaks. This ends when one of the boys meets a psychiatrist who agrees to help launch the school. Good study in human nature. Supposed A small group of super-intelligent children try to start their own school with the help of a few adults who know their secret: their parents died from an atomic blast, but not before giving birth to these extraordinary babies with super talents (not superheroes). They're all terribly lonely because they have to hide their intellect from others lest they be labeled freaks. This ends when one of the boys meets a psychiatrist who agrees to help launch the school. Good study in human nature. Supposedly, the X-Men derived from this story, though no one has super powers here.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    The first chapter/story here, "In Hiding", was something I discovered in The Future is Female! Women's Science Fiction Stories from the Pulp Era to the New Wave about a year ago. It's crossed my mind many times since so I went looking to reread and was surprised to find a larger book continuing on where "In Hiding" left off. I enjoyed it though it does reflect it's time-- I thought this was a 70s era book (the setting is early 70s) and was confused by the Leave it to Beaver sort of social mores The first chapter/story here, "In Hiding", was something I discovered in The Future is Female! Women's Science Fiction Stories from the Pulp Era to the New Wave about a year ago. It's crossed my mind many times since so I went looking to reread and was surprised to find a larger book continuing on where "In Hiding" left off. I enjoyed it though it does reflect it's time-- I thought this was a 70s era book (the setting is early 70s) and was confused by the Leave it to Beaver sort of social mores but it was actually published in 1953. Recommended if you have a fondness for the story "In Hiding", which has been reprinted in many SF anthologies but a bit aimless to have wide appeal. 3.5

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    Rated G for clean. If you liked Flowers for Algernon because you could follow one man's journey to genius, you will like this book about a group of genius children. The dialogue got very technical at spots, which made the book seem to drag, but if you were in an intellectual mood and wanted to learn things indirectly about psychology then you'd enjoy those parts. Rated G for clean. If you liked Flowers for Algernon because you could follow one man's journey to genius, you will like this book about a group of genius children. The dialogue got very technical at spots, which made the book seem to drag, but if you were in an intellectual mood and wanted to learn things indirectly about psychology then you'd enjoy those parts.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    Excellent story and very intelligent. Shiras gave a lot of thought to the science as well as the emotional side of the story and it come off very ahead of it's time. I think it would make a great movie but everyone would think it's an X-Men ripoff, even though the opposite is somewhat true. I appreciate the personal touch of the doctor's interactions with the kids and their sophisticated minds but always knowing they are still children.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brad Clarkston

    This is a great light read that is almost as relivent as it was in 1950. It is a character driven book based aroun a group of "gifted" children with amazing IQ's and there teachers. I'd recommend this book to anyone that has an interest in psychology or with the X-Men comic books, cartoons, and/or movies.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    Interesting premise: an atomic accident creates a group of super intelligent children. It's also interesting to consider in what ways the story is reflective of the 50's and in what ways it explores constants of human nature.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Will Boncher

    Cute story about development in some hypersmart children. Could have used a little more development and a less rushed ending though.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Boyd

    A very good early 1950s SiFi book. Rumor has it that this book was some of Stan Lee's inspiration for creating the X-Men. Great read and a good plot. Very recommended

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mike Stone,

    Good 1950s SF. This novel is an expansion of the excellent novelette "In Hiding", where the central character discovers a young boy who is a supergenius, but has been carefully concealing his intelligence from fear that in the country of the blind, the one-eyed man could be in for a rough time - perhaps an allegory of the problems faced by gifted children in that era. Learning that the boy's intelligence is the result of his parents' exposure to radiation in an atomic disaster, he sets out to find Good 1950s SF. This novel is an expansion of the excellent novelette "In Hiding", where the central character discovers a young boy who is a supergenius, but has been carefully concealing his intelligence from fear that in the country of the blind, the one-eyed man could be in for a rough time - perhaps an allegory of the problems faced by gifted children in that era. Learning that the boy's intelligence is the result of his parents' exposure to radiation in an atomic disaster, he sets out to find others of his kind. He does, and sets them up in a "special school", where they can receive an education to match their IQs. It has to be said that the later chapters are not really up to "In hiding", and in particular that the ending is a bit weak. Would it really help much for the Children to return to ordinary schools where they would surely stick out like sore thumbs now that their secret is out? When I first read the book at 13, this infuriated me, rather as three years earlier when the author of "Earth Abides" killed off Joey. Looking at it from (I hope) a more mature perspective, I have more sympathy for Shiras, who I suspect had got into a bit of a bind. In the sf of the period there were two basic tropes for the "mutant superman" situation, and I suspect that she wasn't really happy with either. Basically, either the supermen are accepted as the natural rulers, and allowed to run the world either openly or from behind the scenes, or else the normal people turn on them and they are wiped out - and by the time of writing both had become stock clichés. At the end of "In Hiding", Shiras seems to be leaning to the first option. Dr Welles muses that he will always be Tim's friend "as a loyal dog, loved by a good master, is never cast out". However, the problems of this are well brought out in a later chapter, where it becomes clear that some of the Children are better-adjusted than others. Had his first contact among them been someone like Fred, rather than Timothy, one suspects that Welles himself would have been less accepting. Nor, in any case, would all normals be as accepting as Welles. When the secret comes out in the last chapter, a massacre is narrowly averted. Here the novel very much reflects the slightly paranoid time when it was written.. Today, of course, the revelation would probably be greeted with a yawn, and the Children shrugged off as just another lot of gifteds . But sixty years ago, fear of anyone different was pretty much taken as read. Still, these are only nitpicks and overall it's a pretty good read. You just need to keep in mind that it is of its time.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Henri Moreaux

    Classic 1950s science fiction (in fairness however it began as a series of three novellas in 1948, the most famous of which was In Hiding, and was later expanded into a book in 1953). I went into this blind having picked up the Science Fiction Book Club 1959 hardcover edition which does not contain any blurb or description, so all I new was it was published in the 50s and science fiction, probably involving atomic energy on some level. With memories of the faction by the same name in the Fallout Classic 1950s science fiction (in fairness however it began as a series of three novellas in 1948, the most famous of which was In Hiding, and was later expanded into a book in 1953). I went into this blind having picked up the Science Fiction Book Club 1959 hardcover edition which does not contain any blurb or description, so all I new was it was published in the 50s and science fiction, probably involving atomic energy on some level. With memories of the faction by the same name in the Fallout game series I thought I'd give it a look and see if there's any relation - there's not. The book centres around a school psychologist Peter Welles and a student who a concerned teacher refers to him, Tim. It turns out that Tim's problem isn't a problem per se but rather that he's extremely intelligent and unable to relate to others well, spending a good amount of time hiding his true intellect. It's from here we learn that Tim's parents were killed in an atomic explosion and he's somewhat of a mutant with the side effect of his radiation exposure being a higher than usual intellect. The story then goes on as Peter Welles forms a school for these mutant gifted children (bit of xmen deja vu here) and collects other children who were effected by the atomic explosion and are mutants also. Overall, it was alright, not particularly enthralling and the dialogue is cumbersome in parts with the author becoming a little preachy at times. I found the first chapter In Hiding was the best part of the book, with the final chapter being my least favourite chapter. If you like classic science fiction it's worth reading just for completions sake as it was ranked as the 14th most significant science fiction books by the SF Book Club.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This novella started as a short story, “In Hiding”, which was published in 1948 and was well regarded at the time. Two more short stories were published in serial fashion and then the stories were extended into a novella. Children of the Atom was listed as one of "The Most Significant SF & Fantasy Books of the Last 50 Years, 1953-2002." I can see why it may have been considered significant. It is believed to have been a precursor to X-Men. There are some genuinely interesting ideas but the novel This novella started as a short story, “In Hiding”, which was published in 1948 and was well regarded at the time. Two more short stories were published in serial fashion and then the stories were extended into a novella. Children of the Atom was listed as one of "The Most Significant SF & Fantasy Books of the Last 50 Years, 1953-2002." I can see why it may have been considered significant. It is believed to have been a precursor to X-Men. There are some genuinely interesting ideas but the novella as a whole is too simple and poorly written. It feels a bit rushed, for example, buildings get built in a week. And character actions are largely removed from reality, for example, guardians willingly surrender their children to a total stranger. The story is dialog driven which is unfortunate because the dialog is stilted and pedantic. If you are willing to forgive these issues there are enough interesting ideas to keep a reader going until the end when the story devolves into halting speeches and is tied up too quickly.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    An interesting piece in science fiction and one that should have stayed in print for far longer than it ever has. It is hard to peg whether it should be on the young adult side or not, and the reading is certainly dated when it comes to perception of gender roles and the like, but if a person has any interest in psychology, how we work with others, and/or sociology, Shiras's work here sets the stage for many following her. Find a copy in the used book stores and read if you like the Doom Patrol An interesting piece in science fiction and one that should have stayed in print for far longer than it ever has. It is hard to peg whether it should be on the young adult side or not, and the reading is certainly dated when it comes to perception of gender roles and the like, but if a person has any interest in psychology, how we work with others, and/or sociology, Shiras's work here sets the stage for many following her. Find a copy in the used book stores and read if you like the Doom Patrol and X-Men comics, along with Sturgeon's More Human than Human.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Jaffe

    I remember reading this book as a kid. Is its literary value four stars? No, not really. The set up is simplistic, as is the resolution, and the manifestation of the children as distinct individuals with passion and genius is unrealized. But I can't separate it from my warm memories of reading it as a kid, so four stars it gets.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book has all the things I like: gifted kids, cats, and a heavy dose of theistic philosophy. That last one caught me off guard because it is so not the norm in gifted children discourse. This book probably will get its own chapter because it is so unique from other gifted books as a pre-Sputnik portrayal of gifted kids. Post-Sputnik gifted discourse is primarily concerned with science and training children to be national scientific resources, perhaps weapons. But this book is a post-WW2 pre- This book has all the things I like: gifted kids, cats, and a heavy dose of theistic philosophy. That last one caught me off guard because it is so not the norm in gifted children discourse. This book probably will get its own chapter because it is so unique from other gifted books as a pre-Sputnik portrayal of gifted kids. Post-Sputnik gifted discourse is primarily concerned with science and training children to be national scientific resources, perhaps weapons. But this book is a post-WW2 pre-Sputnik portrayal, and, as such, it condemns over reliance on science. As it says, people who reason only based on science brought about the Bomb, so we need to be wary of that. The biggest threat to this pre-X men school for gifted youngsters is a gifted child who reasons by science/ intellect alone and gives no credence to feeling, intuition, or sensation. The other children treat him as a psychological project and give him assignments to develop his psyche more fully. This is where the book gets most bizarre because the child is assigned to stare at an apple seed in imitation of early Mystics and own a pet to teach him how to love. These exercises are combined with reading assignments by CS Lewis, Aquinas, and Aristotle. On the other side, the second threat to the school is a television pastor who condemns them as abominations of Satan. He is quickly dismissed as a fool who relies on feelings alone without intellect. The message of the book is clear: we should not rely on intellect, feelings, intuition, or sensation alone, but instead need to be fully developed thinkers who give equal credence to science, philosophy, languages, the arts, and mathematics. Is it a little heavy handed in its endorsement of Thomism or Thomistic Philosphy? Absolutely, but I loved it, mostly because it is totally bizarre and unusual to read about a group of gifted kids sitting around debating Poe's Philosophy of Composition and Aquinas' Summa Theologica. Also, the cats.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dean Landsman

    Reading this book in the very early 1960s I found it remarkably comforting. To read it today it would seem so much a period piece, so out of place with common communications and education systems. But at its time, especially when written, Shiras captured what was less of a scifi theme than that of determination and persistence, coupled with naivete and necessity. The atomic factor was merely a device. The 1950s and 60s, postwar America, was a time when the economy was booming. Children were the b Reading this book in the very early 1960s I found it remarkably comforting. To read it today it would seem so much a period piece, so out of place with common communications and education systems. But at its time, especially when written, Shiras captured what was less of a scifi theme than that of determination and persistence, coupled with naivete and necessity. The atomic factor was merely a device. The 1950s and 60s, postwar America, was a time when the economy was booming. Children were the beneficiaries. Boomers were the recipients of education in science, plus exploration in the arts and other areas. A new area emerged, from just a few special schools to a defined segment,"gifted children." This book looks at the super gifted. And in it the psychological needs, fears, longing for others, and then the traumas of being in such a group emerge. This is a brilliant work.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Teresa Carrigan

    Takes place in the early 1970s. I had forgotten some of the common details of American culture back then. Lots of smoking of course. Telephones weren't found in every office, you went out in the hall to answer it. A single TV not only for a family but for a group of families. Sending telegrams when you needed to communicate quickly in writing. I still find the story worth rereading. It's not really a novel, but more of a set of stories about the same characters. IMO it does a realistic job of sho Takes place in the early 1970s. I had forgotten some of the common details of American culture back then. Lots of smoking of course. Telephones weren't found in every office, you went out in the hall to answer it. A single TV not only for a family but for a group of families. Sending telegrams when you needed to communicate quickly in writing. I still find the story worth rereading. It's not really a novel, but more of a set of stories about the same characters. IMO it does a realistic job of showing how extremely intelligent children struggle to grow up among those of more average intelligence.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    REALLY disappointing. The book started off so well - great premise and the writing was good - then it just turned into one talk after another and a repetition of introducing new students, getting their background. etc. Just tiresome after a while and worse ye the story doesn't proceed while this is happening. Then finally near the end a great twist is introduced that should have happened in the second part of the book (no spoiler) and it just fizzled. So much potential wasted. Makes me kind of s REALLY disappointing. The book started off so well - great premise and the writing was good - then it just turned into one talk after another and a repetition of introducing new students, getting their background. etc. Just tiresome after a while and worse ye the story doesn't proceed while this is happening. Then finally near the end a great twist is introduced that should have happened in the second part of the book (no spoiler) and it just fizzled. So much potential wasted. Makes me kind of sad all things considered. It should have been a great novel but just isn't.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rich Brown

    The obvious inspiration for the X-Men comics, which don't interest me much. No special effects or retractable laser claws here, just an interesting idea- some brilliant teenagers (all mutated in the womb by their parents' work at Oak Ridge) gathering on a farm/boarding school, with good intentions of leading the rest of us to a brighter, better nuclear future. 1953 must've been awesome: 'Better Living Through Chemistry' and all that.

  25. 4 out of 5

    David Szondy

    One of the joys of hunting down obscure books is sitting down of an evening to read some delight that I've stumbled across in a dusty secondhand book shop. One of the disappointments is discovering that said delight is actually a thundering letdown. Such is The Children of the Atom. Read more One of the joys of hunting down obscure books is sitting down of an evening to read some delight that I've stumbled across in a dusty secondhand book shop. One of the disappointments is discovering that said delight is actually a thundering letdown. Such is The Children of the Atom. Read more

  26. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    One of the first "sci fi"/" what if" books I read as a teen. It was given to me by a friend that like me that had skipped a grade and was younger than the other kids in school. It is hard to describe but it was story that made me feel more normal but yet could express my extra-ordinariness in constructive ways that I'd not diminish others but let me realize my full potential.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stefan

    I've been hearing about this book since the early 90s. It was an early inspiration to the X-Men (along with DC's Doom Patrol). Well, I can cross it off my list now. It's very dry and very plainly written which made it difficult to motivate me read. I finished it finally and really didn't find it worth my time.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    Read because of the story that it inspired the original X-Men. Didn't really hold my attention, but maybe that's because the 'school for special children' trope has been mined to the point of exhaustion in recent years.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Theodore Wilson

    An unfolding story about protégé children possessing unfathomable intelligence. Some of which are capable of fitting in with society while others tragically don't figure it out fast enough.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    Pretty boring book, but not totally terrible.

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