This book is beautiful. From its descriptions of the city, to the smoothness of the plot, every aspect just beams with elegance. Though perhaps lacking in the action you expect from a science fiction novel, the plot is well structured and keeps you reading, regardless. The story follows Alvin, a unique boy born to a world, eons in the future. And what a world it is. Clarke paints the scene vividly. The description is definitely one of the finer details of this novel.
The book focuses more on the human, rather than alien viewpoint. We do see some alien activity, but the descriptions for these are less focused and given little importance. It would have been nice to be able to explore these worlds more-so rather than stick so closely to earth. The human society we see, however, is well portrayed. You get a real sense for the characters– even with the vast differences between their and our worlds. Sometimes the detail lets Clarke down a little. Some description around characters thoughts are put in long-winded ways. This makes a book you have to focus all attention on to follow, but it’s worth it when you do.
The most interesting part of the book beside the vast descriptions was Clarke’s strong, if fairly sudden, expression of opinion. As part of a description of society late in the book, there is a quip of a paragraph that speaks an opinion of religion. This abrupt eruption of feeling shows itself clearly through reading and it is truly fascinating. I think authors make better statements writing with their opinions shortly integrated like this, than having whole novels to make a point, such as in George Orwell’s ‘1984’, for example. Religion isn’t the main focus of ‘City and the Stars’, but an opinion is quickly and ruthlessly addressed and moved on from: perfect.
Overall I believe this book is the best science fiction novel I’ve ever read and it’s definitely inspired me to delve into this genre. I love it dearly for its description, how Clarke makes statements and the characters’ personal journey.