Fiction Review: The City and the Stars – Arthur C Clarke

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.

Rating: 8/10

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4 thoughts on “Fiction Review: The City and the Stars – Arthur C Clarke

  1. This review summed up my own feelings for the book within the first few lines. Very good with it’s description, but lacking in action. Also, the fact that Clarke voices his own opinion, however shortly, was a good mention. It seemed a bit lost in it’s placement but you pointed out that it was good he did not dwell on it, which I agree with 🙂 Nice review!

    • Thanks 🙂 yeah, I believe thats what a writer should do: reflect their own opinions, but not let it get in the way of the story. I hated 1984 because it had a whole section where George Orwell just spewed out this book that was basically his opinion on the world vaguely shoved into the narrative… but it was way too much.

      But yeah, before I rant on.. thanks for reading 🙂 x

  2. I completely agree with what you are saying about the vivid portrayal of images in this novel. Clarke is very good at creating these dynamic futuristic societies, and most of all painting a picture for the reader which can be imagined so vividly. However, I would have to disagree with your point about exploring other worlds more thoroughly. I think that part of the reason that they aren’t explored is because their importance in the narrative is so minimal, for me it seems that Clarke understands when to give great detail and when to hold back, in a sense it makes us as naive as Alvin and Hilvar as we are discovering things in tandem with them.

    • if not in this narrative, he should have written another or something exploring these worlds. Perhaps a sequal =p. I just want to know more about what goes on there because they seem so unexplored. Its not as bad as with Never-ending-story, where its teased and not said cause ‘its a story for another day’ *shakes fist*.. but its still something I’d really want to know about =]

      Thanks for reading ^^

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