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The City & the Stars

A book by Arthur C. Clarke

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A thought-provoking early Clarke novel

  • Sep 7, 2010
This book is a revision and expansion of Clarke's first science fiction novel Against the Fall of Night, which Clarke completed in 1946 and revised in 1954. The story takes place many years, perhaps billions of years in the future. Millions of people live in an enclosed world where daylight exists the entire day and people do not sleep. The name of the city is Diaspar, which Clarke does not explain, but which may be a reference to "diaspora," a place away from the true homeland, or a place where people do not really belong. A computer controls the city.

The life span of people in Diaspar is thousands of years. After this time, they return to the computer, their bodies are somehow decomposed, but they themselves are put into a kind of sleep and resurrected thousands of years later, their resurrection is randomly chosen, in a new body. They do not remember their past lives until they have lived again for about a hundred years. Every once in a while, the computer produces a unique person, this happened fourteen times in the past. Now, Alvin is born and he is a "unique."

Alvin has a strong desire to leave Diaspar and see what is outside the enclosed city. All other city inhabitants are afraid of doing so. They fear the invasion of some evil empire. Alvin accomplishes his escape and discovers a second city where the people live only about ninety or a hundred years and, unlike the citizens of Diaspar, they can communicate by reading minds. These people know about Diaspar, but do not want to join them. They consider the Diaspar inhabitants as being improperly passive.

Alvin ultimately discovers what happened in the past that resulted in the creation of the two cities, why "uniques" were programmed into the computer, other beings, whether what the two cities believe to be true about their history and the world is really true, what lies outside of earth, and whether it makes sense for the two cities to join together.

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Israel Drazin ()
Ranked #66
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of twenty books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four … more
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About this book


Men had built cities before, but never such a city as Diaspar; for millennia its protective dome shutout the creeping decay and danger of the world outside. Once, it held powers that rules the stars. But then, as legend had it, The invaders came, driving humanity into this last refuge. It takes one man, A Unique to break through DiasparÂ’s stifling inertia, to smash the legend and discover the true nature of the Invaders.
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ISBN-10: 1567231608
ISBN-13: 978-1567231601
Author: Arthur C. Clarke
Publisher: Amereon Ltd

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