There's a certain kind of vision of the future ... anyone who's seen the film version of "The Time Machine" will know what I mean. A sort of peaceful, insipid, utopian decadence which was rife in the screen science fiction of the 1960s. The women wear diaphonous tinted miniskirts, the men wear vaguely Greco-Roman tunics, both sexes lie around on the lawn and munch on fruit. Don't get me wrong. For some reason I don't understand, this image of the future is a powerful one. It's almost a Jungian archetype. Clarke presents the image very well in "The City and the Stars" - the trouble is, that's all he does. It isn't easy to find a Clarke novel that has a story to tell. "The Deep Range", "Rendezvous with Rama", "The Fountains of Paradise", "The Songs of Distant Earth" ... all are just collections images from an imaginary future, and they succeed or fail according to how well the images work when made into a slide show. I don't think they work too well here. There aren't enough pictures; and at any rate, Clarke tries too hard to pretend that he is telling a story, when he isn't.