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City Hardcover – August, 2004

4.7 out of 5 stars 161 customer reviews

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Hardcover, August, 2004
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Editorial Reviews


“To read science-fiction is to read Simak. The reader who does not like Simak stories does not like science-fiction at all.” —Robert A. Heinlein
“Just about any work by Simak deserves to be considered a classic and City is no exception. . . . A unique perspective on the race of man and a fantastic read.” —SFBook.com

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Peter Ganim is an American actor who has appeared on stage, on television, and in film. He has performed voice-over work since 1994. His audiobook narration has won two AudioFile Earphones Awards. --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 251 pages
  • Publisher: Old Earth Books (August 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 188296828X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1882968282
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (161 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,386,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Thousands of years in the future, the canine population of planet Earth, along with their robot helpers, sit around campfires and tell each other controversial fables about how they owe their ascendance to an extinct and perhaps mythical species of benevolent, if misguided, humans. This bleak, melancholy portrayal of humanity's prospects for survival is unusual, then, not only for its dystopian vision but also for its often pastoral storytelling.

Originally published during the 1940s as a series in Astounding Science Fiction, these eight stories were gathered into a novel in 1952. For the book, Simak made a few revisions and added a framework of "textual commentaries," featuring remarks from canine critics who debate both the meaning of the tales and the likelihood that humankind ever even existed. The stories themselves focus on the role of the (human) Webster family, whose descendants during the course of thousands of years influence the future of humans, dogs, robots, and even ants. The only character common to all the tales is a robot named Jenkins, who serves first human, then canine masters as various threats present themselves over the course of numerous millennia.

The first three tales describe a deteriorating human society that retreats from urban blight and escapes to remote family outposts, relying almost entirely on robots for supplying the labor and on the wired world for communication and supplies. (Simak's prescient vision of the Internet is one of the most hauntingly accurate prophecies in this book.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
"City" is a magical book, a true modern fable, and I highly recommend it. But if you do read it, I hope it doesn't take you as long as it took me to get started. As the old saying goes, you can't judge a book by its cover. Or its first tale, for that matter.
Not that it is a bad story. On the contrary, it has a certain nostalgic flavor, a dated atmosphere that has to be appreciated under the correct light, Like the light of the fireplace in the Webster House, the rural property that serves as the common scenery that connects the tales, and leads the story into its climax.
But I guess I wasn't prepared for that when this book first got into my hands. I was attending a seminar for English teachers in Southern Brazil and the school where the event was taking place was giving away some old books, the kind nobody wants anymore. City was among the ones I picked.
The graphic layout of the cover showed how old the book was, and so was the fact that it was literally falling apart. Anyway, I read the first story, and all these elements together left me the strong feeling that it was just another curiosity, an example of how far from reality SF writers of the past were, of how wrong they were when predicting the decades still to come, and what the end of the twentieth century would be like.
Family planes powered by atomics? Yeah, right. Those guys in the fifties thought nuclear energy either would be the ultimate curse or the ultimate solution. References to World War II as "the war"? Of course there wouldn't be any other wars after that one. Hydroponics replacing "dirt farming"? People fleeing the cities to live in large estates in the interior? Yeah, like there would be room for everyone in the country.
Th result, I thought, was almost laughable.
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Format: Paperback
City is great science fiction, a social commentary of sorts told in a unique and highly effective manner. The tales collected in this book are the myths that have been told by generation after generation of Dogs. Dog scholars debate their origin, and only Tige is so bold as to argue that Man ever truly existed. The majority argument makes sense--man was a highly illogical creature, too selfish and materialistic to ever survive long enough to form a lasting, advanced culture. These stories themselves basically tell the story of the Webster family, a remarkable family whose genealogical line was gifted with genius yet cursed with failures. As the story goes, humans abandoned the cities and sought a bucolic lifestyle, shedding the old tendencies to huddle together in cities for protection. They explored the solar system, and in time the majority of the population sought an alien bliss in the form of Jupiter's native life forms. One Webster had a vision of two civilizations, man and dog, working together to plot a new future--he utilized deft surgical means to enable dogs to speak, he designed special lenses to allow dogs to see as men do, and he designed robots to aid dogs by serving as their hands. Over the years, man's society continued to break down, and eventually a Webster manages to shut off man from the world at large, determined to let the dogs create a new earth free of man's dangerous ideas and influences. Jenkins, the faithful robot servant of the Websters, oversees the dogs' evolution. Unfortunately, the Dog world was not isolated from a handful of human beings after all, and eventually a man builds a bow and arrow and kills a fellow creature, thus upsetting the balance of life all over again.Read more ›
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