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The City and the Stars [Paperback]

Arthur C. Clarke
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 2 1993
Anyone who ventured beyond the city of Diaspar would incur the wrath of the Invaders. It took one man, a Unique, to break through the fear, escape from Diaspar and learn the true nature of the Invaders. This is a reissue of Arthur C. Clarke's story of a society in the far future.

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About the Author

Arthur C. Clarke was born in Minehead in 1917. During the Second World War he served as an RAF radar instructor, rising to the rank of Flight-Lieutenant. After the war he won a BSc in physics and mathematics with first class honours from King's College, London. One of the most respected of all science-fiction writers, he also won the 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 lived in Sri Lanka from 1956 until his death in 2008. To discover more about how the legacy of Sir Arthur is being honoured today, please visit http://www.clarkefoundation.org --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Melancholy precursor to Childhood's End June 1 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I appear to be in a minority here, in not believing the book to be a work of genius and a grand look at important philosophical ideas.
The book is similar in some aspects to the later, and I believe better, Childhood's End in that the plot is about the transfiguration of human society. In Childhood's End a great transfiguration into another level of existence and in this one the waking up of two moribund earth societies in the far future.
Slow and ponderously we move through the book, exploring the earth and the universe. We find the universe empty, almost completely devoid of the galactic empire that permeates the legends of earth society. Though there is a point, and it is realized at the end of the book spending 212 pages exploring empty vistas is not my idea of entertainment.
At the end, mankind has awoken and again given an opportunity to grow and become more than the fearful earthbound race it had turned into. We end with much work to do and the idea that it is the journey that is worthwhile, not the destination.
This golden age classic sadly is showing it's age. The ideas now co-opted and familiar to everyone and the plodding plot barely able to hold a reader's interest. The final payoff just barely makes it a worthwhile read, and there is some historical significance of this early example of the conceit of examining deep philosphical issues.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Large Themes Made Digestible Oct. 24 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The city has always symbolized of the pinnacle of human achievement. From Babylon to the Greek city-state to Ancient Rome to modern cities like Tokyo and New York, the city has epitomized progress and achievement. How subversive then to see this symbol extended to its highest utopian degree, then promptly inverted and stood on its head.
Clarke shows us once again why he is one of the grand masters of science fiction. Are all utopias also dystopias? Is immortality a truly desirable goal? Is security worth the sacrifice of curiosity? In achieving paradise, do we surrender our humanity?
These are large questions that this book answers provocatively and incompletely, itself a tribute to the author's good sense. Too complete an answer would not only be pedantic, it would deprive us of the pleasure of our own ruminations.
His detractors will cite his usual shortcomings: flat characters, slow plots, pedestrian imagery and merely adequate writing. While true, such complaints miss the point because Clarke has never pretended to great literature. His purpose is to provoke: with the facility of his intelligence, the depth of his creativity, the breadth of his imagination. Expecting depth of character from Clarke is just as misplaced as expecting alien planetary vistas from Shakespeare. Such expectations say more about the limitations of the reader than those of the author.
The City and the Stars was written years before the dark urban vistas of Dick and Gibson. If others have constructed more compelling visions of futuristic dystopias, it is because they have had the benefit of standing on Clarke's shoulders. But even in the venue of dystopias, Clarke's questions go beyond the merely dystopian.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Is this a novel? April 10 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant visionary Science fiction Oct. 10 1998
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I read 'The City And The Stars' at the tender age of eleven or twelve. Nearly thirty years and many thousands of books later it still ranks as perhaps the greatest science-fiction book of all time.
The story opens with a wonderful description of what could be a possible future for humanity. After spending long millenia trying to explore the solar system, the Universe, and infinately greater intellegences reach the earth, and man is forced to look at his role in the Universe, and closely at himself. having risen to this challenge, mankind perfects both himself and machines, then reaches out to the stars once more, not merely joining the races with whom he once could barely understand, but leading them to the accomplishemnt of the ultimate goal.
The city of the title is the last vestigal remnant of humanity in the solar system, so long-lived and safety concious that they no longer wish to explore the universe, or indeed, even their own small planet.
The story is that of Alvin, the first child born on Earth for many thousands of years, who finds he does not share the fears of his fellow humans and vows to explore the world. His story unfolds in beautiful detail, and leads to an exciting and unexpected conclusion.
Along the way Clarke invents such radical concepts as computers with 'eternity circuits' which are immortal and can render immortal anything in their care, Gestalt entities composed of millions of unicellular polyps, which each individually live and die, but which collectively challenge eternity with undying intellegence, and a mind completely independent of matter.
The book is an ultimate work of art from the master himself. Read and enjoy!
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Clarke is the best
This is a real page turner. If you are into sci fi, this is the book for all of you!
Published 15 months ago by Gregory A. Boshaw
5.0 out of 5 stars The City And The Stars And Much More
There is a reason Sir Arthur C. Clarke (1917 - 2008) is considered one of the greatest Science Fiction writers of all time. Read more
Published on Aug. 15 2009 by Dave_42
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great SF novels
This may have been the first sf I ever read. I am certain few others have ever topped it. [Note this is a 1956 expanded rewrite of the original version entitled "Against the... Read more
Published on March 28 2004 by Virgil
5.0 out of 5 stars Five stars are not enough.
Virtually everyone here seems to agree with me, so I don't think I need to repeat these sentiments, so I'll just say this. The first time I read it, I was almost home in L.A. Read more
Published on March 23 2004 by James van Scoyoc
5.0 out of 5 stars The City a nd the Stars, Arthur C. Clarke
Great book, story up-to-date for the 21th century. Sometime I feel as if I am living in Diasper and waiting for the link to Lyss to be opened again. Read more
Published on Sept. 2 2003 by E. Nachtrieb
5.0 out of 5 stars Clarke's masterpiece. An incredible work of imagination.
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... Read more
Published on Nov. 3 2002 by Roger J. Buffington
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Sci-Fi Novel Ever
I first read this book in 1957. I loved it of course, but I had no idea where it ranked against anything else. I was 11. Read more
Published on Sept. 24 1999 by BillBean
5.0 out of 5 stars magnificently timeless Science Fiction
Despite the poor second chapter and an ending that is a collection of loose ends, the book surpasses 2001 Space Odyssey in the reach of its ideas. Read more
Published on Feb. 7 1998 by kameike@nok-lab.com
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating, mind-opening story.
This expanded version of the author's earlier, equally excellent book "Against the Fall of Night," contains awe-inspiring, very imaginative and well thought out ideas and... Read more
Published on Feb. 1 1998
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