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The City and the Stars (Classic SF) Paperback – 11 Sep 1986

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Product details

  • Paperback: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; New edition edition (11 Sept. 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575038497
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575038493
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 11.6 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,758,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Somerset in 1917, Arthur C. Clarke has written over sixty books, among which are the science fiction classics 2001: A Space Odyssey, Childhood's End, The City and the Stars and Rendezvous With Rama. He has won all the most prestigious science fiction trophies, and shared an Oscar nomination with Stanley Kubrick for the screenplay of the film of 2001. He was knighted in 1998. He died in 2008 at his home in Sri Lanka.

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Review

Probably his most perfect work. --Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

Arthur C. Clarke is one of the truly prophetic figures of the space age ... The colossus of science fiction. --New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Clarke's masterful evocation of the far future of humanity, considered his finest novel. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Robert Fisher on 3 Jan. 2008
Format: Paperback
I never thought I'd find myself describing a book in such terms, but Arthur C Clarke's "The City and the Stars" is simply a beautiful work of breath-taking vision and insight. It's beauty resides in the gentleness with which he submerges the reader not only into the flow of the story but into a way of thinking that makes us understand profound issues which confront the human race as we head into the future.

In part, what is remarkable is the book itself - written in 1956, it anticipates many of the problems and conflicts which the rise of technology presents us with today: in particular, how human beings themselves interact with and then become shaped by the machines they create. But what is even more remarkable is that Clarke's style does this in a way which takes the reader back to the early days of almost childhood innocence when everything is strange and new; the reader becomes a child again, looking at the world with eyes filled with wonder and asking the simplest of questions all over again. This is Clarke's critique of the main city - Diaspar: in effect, he is saying that with the rise of technology we become at first reliant on and then indifferent to the world. Machines do it for us - and then what is left for us to do or think? Diaspar is the city of the future - along with the stagnating human beings who fill that world.

The plot itself is breath-taking;in 255 pages we are unbelievably taken across a barren world millions of years into the future, across a long forgotten galaxy - and then back to Earth again, all with amazing precision, speed - and above all, stylistic grace. At no point are we forced into assumptions or presuppositions. The story unfolds quite naturally and without haste.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Shishya on 17 July 2011
Format: Paperback
There are very few books you read, and go wow. And go back and read again. And say wow again.

The book is about a boy stuck in a city- a perfect city, where there is no disease, people are immortal(sort of), you can have anything you want just by thinking about it. But there is one problem- you can never leave the city, even thinking about leaving gives most citizens cold fear.

The hero is someone who doesnt have this fear and wants to leave- but cant, as the city is closed. Why is it? Whats the secret of the city? What happened all those years ago that scared the people of the city so much they decided never to leave again?

This book has many layers of suspense- you keep reading, and you keep going, "Aha!", all to the very end, when the final secret is revealed.

Brilliant. One the best books Ever.
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Shepherd on 5 Sept. 2003
Format: Paperback
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 Diaspar, 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 Diaspar 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 Diaspar 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 Diaspar 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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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Graeme Buckley on 18 Oct. 2005
Format: Paperback
I first read this when I was 7 or 8, and it was one of the books that made me a sf fan. This is one of the novels that perfectly capture that 'sense of wonder' that is the heart and purpose of SF, sweeping vistas of the imagination, but still at a human scale. It is not a fautless work, Clarke's future humans are basically too nice, (I would recommend Tanith Lee's "Don't Bite The Sun / Drinking Sapphire Wine" as a rather more realistic view of how humans are likely to act in Utopia), but the sheer pace of the quest as Alvin stretches the horizons of his culture from a self-imposed inward focused bubble like a medieval walled city to recover their heritage of deep space and deep time is a great trip.
It's a novel that bears re-reading, just for the images it can conjure up.
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