Wednesday, November 21, 2012


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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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
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4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
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