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The City and the Stars (1953)

de Arthur C. Clarke

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2,491484,305 (3.93)1 / 91
This grand space adventure explores the fate of humanity a billion years in the future-- A visionary classic by one of science fiction's greatest minds.   Far in the future, Earth's oceans have evaporated and humanity has all but vanished. The inhabitants of Diaspar believe their domed city is all that remains of an empire that had once conquered the stars. Inside the dome, the citizens live in technological splendor, free from the distractions of aging and disease. Everything is controlled precisely, just as the city's designers had intended.   But a boy named Alvin, unlike his fellow humans, shows an insatiable--and dangerous--curiosity about the world outside the dome. His questions will send him on a quest to discover the truth about the city and humanity's history--as well as its future.   A masterful and awe-inspiring work of imagination, The City and the Stars is considered one of Arthur C. Clarke's finest novels.… (més)

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Es mostren 1-5 de 48 (següent | mostra-les totes)
This is my second Clarke and it's way better than my first encounter with the man's work, which was [b:The Space Trilogy|140195|The Space Trilogy|Arthur C. Clarke|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1348746938s/140195.jpg|135148]. Yes, I probably started with the wrong book, as my review indicates: see here. But hey, it was cheap and the stories weren't that long, so...

Anyway, [b:The City and the Stars|250024|The City and the Stars|Arthur C. Clarke|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1340242824s/250024.jpg|925052] (but the green-yellow cover of the reissue) was bought at the same time, though the reading was postponed, because of my bad experience with the other book. Unjustly, but it is what it is.

In this story, there are two cities: Lys and Diaspar. Diaspar is covered by a dome and is technologically far more advanced than Lys, where mankind is still mankind. Natural births, telepathy (or communication via their minds, not as much in a spoken fashion), different kinds of people, etc. (Lys) vs no new births (but a sort of reincarnation, a reboot, if you will), oral communication, everyone with a perfect skin and look (no ugly people, so to speak) (Diaspar). And so on. There are more differences.

Both cities don't know, or don't want to know (as later turns out), of each other's existence. Both consider the other inferior. Diaspar is controlled by a Central Computer, a Council governs the city, but relies on this Computer, on its memory banks, ... The city must not change, everything must remain according to the saved image in the Computer, even though the Computer has saved various images since the creation of the city. Like you would save an image of your hard-disk, so you don't have to re-install your software (operating system and more) from scratch.

In Diaspar, you don't need to be able to cook or construct something. By a simple click of your fingers, you can conjure furniture, decorations, any food you'd like to eat (if the memory banks have information about it, of course, like recipes and how cooks used to prepare the food and meals back when Diaspar was not as advanced or not isolated under a dome), and so on.

There is a new kid in town, however, named Alvin (a Unique, one who hasn't yet undergone rebirth), who wonders if there's a world outside of Diaspar and if (and how) it can be reached. Is there an exit (and entrance)? He decides to investigate, but somehow needs the help of one jester, Khedron. And yes, or what did you think?, there is life outside of Diaspar: Lys. There's even a direct, underground transport system, linea recta, which goes back and forth. Or at least, went, as there's a whole history attached to it.

At some point in the future, Man was so advanced that it had moved into space to create an empire. But it is said that alien invaders pushed mankind back onto Earth. Man was so devastated by this event, by this defeat that its survivors decided to invest in progress on a smaller scale, hence the domed city and an underground transport-system (to protect themselves from those invaders). Until at some point, there was no need any more to use it, because Diaspar was perfect on its own. A closed circle of life, relying heavily on technology and computers.

Alvin discovers, with the help of Khedron, the transport-system, and even can travel with it. It still functions. That's when he arrives at Lys, in one of its villages, and establishes contact under false pretences (more or less). But when he wants to go back, they will have to erase his memories, because of the aforementioned trouble between Lys and Diaspar. Together with Hilvar, son of Seranis, who is the leader of the village, he explores the country and finds out more than expected. He has a plan to tell Diaspar of what's outside, but has to trick Seranis and the others to be able to flee without his memories erased. As I mentioned, the people of Lys have strong mental powers, can read one's mind easily (when permitted), communicate in a mental way (over small and large distances).

Alvin also tricks Diaspar upon one of his few returns. In the end, both cities have no choice but to come together and re-establish contact and communication; be one people again. Also because Alvin and Hilvar have traveled into space, towards the worlds of the invaders of old (especially after having found a robot from that world, who had strict orders to not give away any crucial information about the Great Ones). One thing leads to another and thanks to the Central Computer, Alvin can use the robot for his own means, the robot follows his instructions. Alvin needs him, as he was the "driver" of the spaceship that was hidden in the desert between Diaspar and Lys, and knows the way to its home planet and the zone of the Seven Suns, an artificial construction in space.


Clarke described mainly events, actions, gave background information on the worlds, their behaviour, their beliefs and so on. The characters weren't all that well developed, I find. Was this characteristic for the period in which the book was written? Was it a deliberate decision? Yes, it's science-fiction (with a slab of fantasy), and characters aren't always the most important element in the writing story.

What bothered me a lot, was that Hilvar and Alvin didn't seem to need to prepare for their journeys. Food? Clothing? Nature calls? (ok, a little too much unnecessary detail here, perhaps) None of that. Any other human being would have had a migraine, fainted because of malnourishment, fallen sick, ... As long as the story advances, who cares, right? Plus, some actions could happen a bit too smoothly, if you ask me. Or was that inherent to that kind of "perfect" civilisation?

All in all, a very good story about the influence of religion, of how arrogance and so-called supremacy (no critical thinking here) - or power and (false) ambition - don't really help a civilisation move forward; it creates division and narrow-mindedness. Leaving it all in the hands of a central computer also isn't the answer, you're tying yourself, you're putting shackles on your arms and legs.

A recommended read, one way or another, despite the flaws. ( )
  TechThing | Jan 22, 2021 |
A not ver long book, but a very good book indeed. My first book I read from Arthur C. Clarke and I really enjoyed his writing style and the whole story behind this.

Not much else to say here. ( )
  gullevek | Dec 15, 2020 |
One of the first Science Fiction books I ever bought. Along with Invasion of the Puppet Masters it created a life long love affair with Science Fiction. Could be wrong but, to me, this was one of the all time great books. Not sure how many times I reread it but know it eventually fell apart; it was a sad day. ( )
  can44okie | Aug 28, 2020 |
Classic fifties SF by Clarke. Widely regarded as one of his best works. So what do you know? I have to check it out.

First of all, its 50's feel for SF is quite noticeable. It's mostly straight adventure with travel and discovery and a few interesting locations, notably two last cities of mankind after a LONG retreat from the galactic scene. Most of them don't even realize that they were pushed back into a self-sustaining lethargic existence without change or hope, relying on a massive computer that basically has everything they are hard-encoded for reuse. And I mean people. With memories, reincarnation, the works.

Sound stagnant? It is. So Alvin, the "unique" boy that was created without any kind of reusable information, gets a hankering for adventure and finds the other city full of mentally superior types and the real situation gets explored. As in the galactic situation. And the only way to truly survive is mixing it all up. :) Nice? Sure!

The characters are the weak point but they're not all that bad. The real strength is in the outright imaginative SF world including domes, robots, virtual reality, interstellar communities, and especially the extrapolation about what we'd become a billion years down the line. :)

It's like a more traditional take on an Olaf Stapleton extravaganza adding some real plot and story to an idea fest. And I'll be real here. There are more ideas and a better plot going on in this novel than I usually see in contemporary SF of that day and age. It's solid even if this particular style has become a bit stale for our modern sensibilities.

Definitely worth reading. ( )
1 vota bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
This book is everything I enjoy and everything that frustrates me about Arthur C Clarke. Fantastic worldbuilding, excellent writing, a story that works like a machine, and.... no characters. The characters are really just animating forces that appreciate and explore the world and move the plot along. Very much like Asimov’s psychohistory in the Foundation series. Also I can’t stand that he named his main character Alvin when everyone else got cool names like Jeserac and Alystra. (Btw I ship Alvin and Hilvar.) Seriously though, what this book does well, it does very well. I enjoyed it and it reminded me why I love this genre. ( )
  lightkensei | May 17, 2020 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 48 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Het onderwerp van deze roman is de menselijke beschaving na een miljard jaar. Deze is dan geconcentreerd in een stad, Diaspar, waar de inwoners leven in een nimmer eindigende illusie, en in een Arcadische samenleving, Lyz, waar de mensen langs telepatische weg met elkander communiceren. Beide beschavingen zijn de eindfase van een periode, waarin de mens de sterrenwerelden verkende maar uit dit universum werd verdreven door de Indringers. In Diaspar wordt een unieke mens geboren, die de stad verlaat, de illusie doorziet en erin slaagt beide beschavingen met elkaar in contact te brengen. Dit belooft het begin te worden van een nieuwe opbloei van de menselijke samenleving. De roman is erg boeiend. Een enkele maal is de vertaling niet korrekt.
afegit per karnoefel | editaNBD/Biblion (via BOL.com)
 

» Afegeix-hi altres autors (20 possibles)

Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Clarke, Arthur C.autor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Giancola, DonatoAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Hartmann, ErichBack Cover Photographerautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Moore, ChrisAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Powers, Richard M.Autor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Salter, GeorgeDissenyador de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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Like a glowing jewel, the city lay upon the breast of the desert.
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The first version of this work appeared in the November 1948 issue of Startling Stories, and was later published in book form as Against the Fall of Night 

It was later rewritten and issued under the title The City and the Stars.  
Gregory Benford later wrote a sequel to Against the Fall of Night with Clarke's approval: Beyond the Fall of Night, but it does not correlate with The City and the Stars.

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Wikipedia en anglès (2)

This grand space adventure explores the fate of humanity a billion years in the future-- A visionary classic by one of science fiction's greatest minds.   Far in the future, Earth's oceans have evaporated and humanity has all but vanished. The inhabitants of Diaspar believe their domed city is all that remains of an empire that had once conquered the stars. Inside the dome, the citizens live in technological splendor, free from the distractions of aging and disease. Everything is controlled precisely, just as the city's designers had intended.   But a boy named Alvin, unlike his fellow humans, shows an insatiable--and dangerous--curiosity about the world outside the dome. His questions will send him on a quest to discover the truth about the city and humanity's history--as well as its future.   A masterful and awe-inspiring work of imagination, The City and the Stars is considered one of Arthur C. Clarke's finest novels.

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