The City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Classic fifties SF by Clarke. Widely regarded as one of his best works. So what do you know? I have to check it out.
First of all, its 50's feel for SF is quite noticeable. It's mostly straight adventure with travel and discovery and a few interesting locations, notably two last cities of mankind after a LONG retreat from the galactic scene. Most of them don't even realize that they were pushed back into a self-sustaining lethargic existence without change or hope, relying on a massive computer that basically has everything they are hard-encoded for reuse. And I mean people. With memories, reincarnation, the works.
Sound stagnant? It is. So Alvin, the "unique" boy that was created without any kind of reusable information, gets a hankering for adventure and finds the other city full of mentally superior types and the real situation gets explored. As in the galactic situation. And the only way to truly survive is mixing it all up. :) Nice? Sure!
The characters are the weak point but they're not all that bad. The real strength is in the outright imaginative SF world including domes, robots, virtual reality, interstellar communities, and especially the extrapolation about what we'd become a billion years down the line. :)
It's like a more traditional take on an Olaf Stapleton extravaganza adding some real plot and story to an idea fest. And I'll be real here. There are more ideas and a better plot going on in this novel than I usually see in contemporary SF of that day and age. It's solid even if this particular style has become a bit stale for our modern sensibilities.
Definitely worth reading.
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