The City and The StarsJuly 2, 2013
The story is about Alvin, a Unique, who tries to escape from the city of Diaspar, just because he wants to find out what lies outside his confined city. Once he manages to get out, he will change the fate of not just his city, but the entire humanity.
This novel is full of dialogues concerning science, philosophy, religion and psychology. It is what you expect from a full blown science fiction, and you can expect it from one of the grandfather of modern science fiction, Arthur C. Clarke. But since the ideas addressed in this novel is not “novel” to me, it think it costs the novel one star in my part. The writing is also a bit dry, less emotional that my taste. I find it a bit difficult to find a character that I can attach with. Maybe Clarke did this deliberately, because the citizens of Diaspar are lacking of emotion indeed.
One thing that I need to mention specifically is the prophecy made by Clarke in this novel. In the future city of Diaspar, once in a very long life span of the citizen of Diaspar, they will be an artist. Their art pieces will be displayed in the city, and the other citizens vote. The one which gets enough voting will be preserved, otherwise destroyed, or at best preserved among the artist’s friends. Clarke correctly predicted the era of Internet when art is democratized by voting on Internet! Well, maybe not the entire artworks, but you get the idea; when you click “like” on facebook, youtube, or whatever social media site. The one which gets most “like” is preserved, otherwise forgotten.
Compared to his other works, I find that this novel is a bit below par. My favorite Clarke’s novel are still his Rendezvous With Rama series, followed second by 2001: A Space Odyssey series. Maybe because this novel is among his earlier works, but he definitely writes better in time.
A 3 star.