BooksOfTheMoon

The City and the Stars

By Arthur C. Clarke

Rating: 5 stars

The city of Diaspar has stood for a thousand million years, its eternity circuits protecting it against the ravages of time and entropy as the city itself nourishes and protects its immortal citizens. In this changelessness Alvin is Unique, the first person to be ‘born’ in millions of years. Although Diaspar is all that remains on a dying Earth, Alvin is determined to get outside and see the world for himself.

I first read this when I was an impressionable youth, and goodness me did it leave an impression. This is Clarke at the height of his powers, effortlessly creating vistas of space and time on a truly awe-inspiring scale. Diaspar is a wonderful creation and is a character in itself, not just a setting and Alvin’s exploration of it reveal the city organically. The protagonist is sympathetic and you feel for him on his journey of self-discovery. Sometimes I felt that he was taking the changes that were happening in his life a little too much in his stride, but I can’t apply the standards of my civilisation to one that’s had megayears to refine both body and mind.

This is space opera at its best, with huge backgrounds but still focussed on the individuals at the centre of the story.

Book details

Publisher: Gollancz
Year of publication: 1956

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