A journey of discovery that will shake the foundations of everything the people of Earth have ever believed...
Diaspar is Earth's last city - surrounded by deserts, on a world where the oceans have long since dried up. It is a domed, isolated, technological marvel run by the Central Computer. Diaspar has conquered death. People are called forth from the Hall of Creation; they live for 1,000 years and then are recalled, stored in the Central Computer's memory, to be born thousands of years later, over and over again, with memories of earlier lives intact.
No one has entered or left Diaspar since anyone can remember. Its people have an unreasoning dread of the unknown, of the world outside the city. And no child has been born for at least 10 million years.
Until Alvin. He is unique. He has no past lives, no past memories. He also has no fear of the outside world. In fact he has an overwhelming curiosity, a drive to explore, to see what lies beyond the sterile boundaries of the city.
When he finally escapes, he discovers a place he could hardly have imagined: a country called Lys. Its people are telepathic. They know life and death. In Lys, Alvin finds friendship and love. And he begins his fateful journey to the stars and back. On his return he brings with him something so strange, so alien and powerful, that it will change the world forever. But for better or worse, not even Alvin can guess.
©1956 Arthur C. Clarke/Scovil Chichak Galen; (P)2009 Geoffrey T.Williams
This book would probably have worked better as a short story, as the actual plot isn't that complex. A lot of Clarke's philosophising surrounds the plot, padding the text unnecessarily and making parts of the book a little tedious. The timeline is a but out there as well, perhaps a grand idea Clarke had in his head that he didn't quite communicate in the novel. A decent attempt, but there is far more capturing novels on just as grand a scale, such as some of Alastair Reynolds' works.
The Science Fiction Book Club pick this as one of there favorite books written in the 50's. When I read it years ago I loved it and so when it went on sale I bought it. I must mention here that this audio club has the greatest sales.
This is so much different then most of what Clarke writes. Fantasy readers would not recognize it as fantasy, but in comparison to most of Clarke's hard Sci-Fi this could be a fantasy. One reason for that is that it takes place billions of years in the future and unlike what most writers do, he does not knock man back into cave man days.
The main character is unique and does not fit into the society he lives in. He does not give into peer pressure and he stays unique. This will appeal to anyone who has ever felt different. Though some see this as a depressing novel, I feel that the spot light on unique people who are willing to challenge the system as very uplifting.
Isolationism and not wanting to leave our comfort zone is a big part of the book.
Parts of the book sound like something Robert Reed would write about today, the Grand View and great lengths of time involved.
This has several narrators and music, which I thought at first would lead to a great experience. I think that they would have done better with one talented narrator instead of several not so talented narrators and though the music did not detract, I do not felt it added anything.
Other really good AC books are: Rendezvous with Rama, 2001: Space Odyssey, 2010 Odyssey II, and any short story collections.
"An Old Favorite"
This was one of the first science fiction novels I'd ever read ever so many years back. For that reason it was the first Audible book I downloaded. It was and remains a favorite. Some have said it is not one of Clarke's best, but I tend to disagree. Perhaps that's just the memories bound up around the story, but there you go.
I enjoyed the sense of discovery as Alvin explored his universe; first the outskirts of Diaspar, then Lys, then the stars. The sense of physical exploration and discovery of new landscapes is something I miss in more recent works.
The performance was mildly uneven. The different voices were obviously recorded at different times, using different equipment, different EQ settings and different levels of compression. This created a slightly uneven flow to the dialog, something which could have been avoided by bringing the voice actors in to record at the same time.
No. I used it to pass the time on a long daily commute. It lasted better than a week and served its purpose well in keeping me entertained in traffic.
"Even better 30 years later"
I first read this book, I think as a novella, about 30 or more years ago. It's been in my wishlist for quite a while because I could still remember the story pretty well. I liked it then, but I loved this version. Not just because it is an audiobook, although that helps, but because I appreciated the story a lot more, or maybe I just absorbed the nuances better.
This is a definite must for anyone who loves the theme of exploring ancient cities and rediscovering lost worlds.
The narrator was excellent. Once you're into it, the character voices click and you can't imagine any other voices.
"Not quite what I expected"
The City and the Stars is a classic for a reason and not just because Arthur C. Clarke is the author, so instead I will write specifically about the audiobook.
This reading is almost a dramatisation since the individual characters are all ready by different narrators and there are musical backgrounds. Unfortunately this isn't what I expected given the listing on audible.com. Perhaps in this case I cannot provide an accurate review since dramatisations/multiple narrators really aren't what I enjoy listening to. I prefer my audiobooks narrated by one person who can add their individual drama to the reading.
The quality of the recording is very high and the production values are wonderful, but since there is no indication in the description or sound clip of exactly how the book is presented I must rate it low since it's not actually what I expected or wanted when I purchased it.
"Not anyone's best work"
Clarke has written far better, but the big problem is the absolutely awful narration. Both problems together mean that unless you're reading Clarke and trying to complete the set, you should avoid this one.
"Great story - terrible narration"
One of Arthur C. Clarke's earlier works, I loved this story 25 years ago, and it still holds up these many years later. Sadly, the narration team was one of the worst I've ever heard - and I've been an Audible member for years. While the person doing the Main Character was ok (not great, but ok) most of the others seemed like they were reading an unfamiliar script, There was very little (if any) emotion conveyed by the readers and I found myself literally yawning while listening. NOT a good sign.
Alvin's adventure is all one fine adventure - to relate any of the many excellent moments would be to reveal spoiler after spoiler, something I won't do. For those who can handle a monotone narration and simply enjoy the story, I highly recommend this.
Monotonous, emotion free, pedantic reading simply couldn't do justice to the excellent story. With one of the many outstanding readers that Audible's productions normallly have, this would have been an incredible success.
The City and the Stars makes you think in many ways, challenges you to set aside the all to common "glory days, war across the stars, humanity ascendant" sci-fi stories that dominate the genre. There's a lot of philosophical areas to ponder...if you can just get past the horrid narration.
"A mesmerizing story, beatifully narrated"
Would definitely recommend it; especially to people with an interest in philosophy and/or (of course) science fiction.
It is somewhat comparable to "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress" by R. Heinlein; since it gives a very realistic image of a fictional future in which humanity, or a part of it, strives for something greater than its (then) current setting and situation.
One of my many favorite scenes (be warned for plot spoilers !!) was when Alvin decided to leave earth for the first time, using the spaceship he found. Apart from the fact that this is one of the key turning points in the book, it also captures very much the ambition of Alvin as well as one of the central thoughts behind the story; finally, after years of isolation, the human race sets to explore the universe once again.
Exploring the past, to find a long lost future purpose.
This book has definitely entered my top 5 favourite books of all time !!
"An Unusual Presentation"
This version City and the Stars is more on the order of a radio drama than a typical Audible book. I thought this presentation was effective, but as a story it's not one of Clarke's best works, which range from hard science to near fantasy. This one is toward the fantasy end of the spectrum.
"Wonderful story, Awesome voice work!"
I thoroughly loved this book, and have now listened to it twice. The storytelling is fantastic, and the imagery is amazing.
I need to take fifteen words to say two wards. So get ready to hear my review. FEELS FLAT.
"The City and the Stars"
the book is exellent - experience spoiled by background music
The story itself is brilliant, the only issue I have with this audio book is the sound quality in places isn't particularly great.
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