Wednesday, November 21, 2012

City

City. Clifford D. Simak. Old Earth Books. 264 pages. 

I didn't exactly love or hate Clifford D. Simak's City. This is a collection of eight stories (plus an epilogue); the stories are linked together as the accumulated mythology of dogs. Each story is introduced and "explained" from the scholarly dog perspective. Man never really existed, there's no proof man ever existed, there certainly isn't any reason to think that men ever had anything to do with dogs, or helped in the "creation" of dogs or robots, etc. But men continued to play a role--sometimes a large role, sometimes a small role, in the cozy campfire tales/stories of dogs. The early stories focus on man's diminishing role on Earth, and the abandoning of cities for the countryside. Men no longer feel the need to work together to form a society, each man or each family prefers to be on their own, to rely on themselves. Government becoming absurd after the concept of cities has fallen apart. Most of the stories do feature talking dogs and robots and a few "mutant" men and "wild" robots. (I'm not sure exactly what made the mutant men mutant and the wild robots wild except both seem to have more freedom and less inclination to follow strict rules and structures.) The stories are: City (1944), Huddling Place (1944), Census (1944), Desertion (1944), Paradise (1946), Hobbies (1946), Aesop (1947), The Simple Way (1951), Epilog (1973). The stories do span ten thousand years or so, plenty of time for people and animals and society to change again and again. Elements of City strongly reminded me of The Long Earth; for example, the concept of there being many, many, many earths that one could learn to travel between, each one being a variant of sorts of the original but also unique.

Short stories can be difficult for me, at times, because I generally prefer longer fiction where I get a better chance to know the characters and a better chance to connect with the story and plot. I often felt disconnected from these stories. I remained slightly interested, for the most part, never really wanted to stop reading the book.


Read City
  • If you want to read a science fiction classic
  • If you enjoy vintage science fiction
  • If you enjoy short stories 
  • If you like dogs OR robots

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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