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The City and the Stars Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 1991

4.5 out of 5 stars 267 customer reviews

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About the Author

Arthur C. Clarke was born in Minehead in 1917. During the Second World War he served as a radar instructor for the RAF, rising to the rank of flight-lieutenant. After the war, he entered King’s college, London taking, in 1948, his Bsc in physics and mathematics with first class honours. One of the most respected of all science-fiction writers, he has won Kalinga Prize, the Aviation Space-Writers’ Prize and the Westinghouse Science Writing Prize. He also shared an Oscar nomination with Stanley Kubrick for the screenplay of 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was based on his story, ‘The Sentinel’. He has lived in Sri Lanka since 1956. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Spectra (January 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553288539
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553288537
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 4.2 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (267 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,436,465 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Patrick Shepherd VINE VOICE on May 17, 2002
Grand ideas of great scope were the hallmark of 'The Golden Age of Science Fiction' and this book certainly fits that mold. Set in the very far future, so far that many main sequence stars have started to die, this is a story of two very different paths that two different groups of humans have taken to the puzzle of existence and life. In the city of Diasper, we have a totally enclosed and static society, where people live for a thousand years, then store their memories for some later computer controlled reincarnation, where anything outside the city is not only totally ignored, its very existence is practically denied. At the other extreme is Lys, where man is just one part of the world of living, growing things, where bio-engineering has been raised to such an art it is buried in the background, and humans have developed telepathic talents. These are the last two areas of civilization on an Earth that has otherwise become a desert, where even the oceans have totally dried up.

Against this background we find Alvin, the first truly new citizen in Diasper in seven thousand years, born without any memories of prior existences, to whom, without any preset thought biases, all things are open to question. When he starts to question the origin of Diasper and ask what exists outside the city, he is met with rebuff and ostracism. Persisting in his questions, he eventually finds a way to leave Diasper and travel to Lys. The things he learns there and the additional questions provoked by this knowledge eventually lead to things far beyond the Earth and a complete revision of 'known' history, with the fate of the galaxy hanging in the balance.
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Format: Hardcover
Many years ago when I was quite young (11 or 12 perhaps) I first read this novel's sister book, Against The Fall Of Night, on the recommendation of my mother. I loved it and soon moved on to The City And The Stars, which I enjoyed even more. Over the ensuing twenty years I have re-read it several times, and cannot think of any SF book that I have consistently enjoyed more.
This is not "gadget SF", where the plot turns on clever use of some little-known technical gizmo. Nor is it "hard SF" that delves deeply into the domain of hard chemistry or physics to drive the story. Instead, this is a "big picture" novel.
A million years pass. A billion years. What happens to the human race? What social impacts might occur after every question we know how to ask has been answered? How might people live when advanced science begins to resemble our conception of magic? This is speculative fiction at its finest, and my favorite Clarke novel.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the story of the human race as it exists about a billion years in the future. A more ambitious premise for a novel is almost impossible to imagine, but Clarke pulls it off brilliantly. This is an incredibly imaginative work, and before it is over it offers a sweeping vision of human destiny. And all the while it does so by telling a good story too! This is a novel, not a work of philosphy.
This is the story of Alvin, the first child to be born in over a million years in the great city of Diaspar, man's greatest and last city. But Alvin is different than his peers, because he alone in all of Diaspar is not pathologically afraid of the notion of leaving Diaspar, or of venturing into outer space. And thus Alvin's explorations, and the novel's story, begin. A great yarn with a startling and inspiring ending.
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Format: Hardcover
In the 1950's Arthur C Clarke made predictions in this book about the evolution of humanity that so-called visionaries are only now "discovering". This novel is set a billion or more years in the future in a city containing the last vestiges of the human race (?), a population whose material achievements are staggering. In Diaspar, people live for ever in lifetimes of 1000 years, they re-write their personalities and memories before each new cycle, their physical environment is a self repairing and organising city controlled by the ultimate in machine evolution. Clarke uses an almost biblical prose form to evoke an endless succession of brilliant images. The characters are relatively one dimensional, but the vision behind the story is unmatched in science fiction. Throughout the story, Clarke keeps the reader's fascination unsated, every page is like a peepshow where the reader wants to stop the action and look further in the innovative idea Clarke has thrown in. In this book you will find virtual reality, machine intelligences, genetic engineering, etc. Unfortunately there has been a sequel, "Beyond the Fall of Night", as Clarke's original story was called "Against the Fall of Night", by Clarke and Greg Benford, that made one good point but then forgot that this isn't a story about aliens or space monsters but about human destiny.Clarke wrote and re-wrote this story many times before its publication, and it is undoubtedly the best of his works beyond "Rendezous with Rama", "Ghost from the Grand Banks", or,even, "Childhood's End" (which has a very similar style). ONE OF THE VERY BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVELS OF ALL TIME. UNSWERVINGLY RECOMMENDED.
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