Clifford D. Simak
Originally Published: 1952
Current Edition: July 2015
Open Road Media, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Rating: 5/5 Stars
There are good science fiction stories; page turners that captivate and provide easy, fun summertime reads. Then there are great science fiction stories: stories that leave us pondering its content long after you’ve turned the last page.
City, by Clifford D. Simak goes well beyond that. This is a Classic. It’s everything that a Science Fiction novel should be: Extraordinary, a bit of social commentary, a leap of faith, heartfelt and at times haunting.
The novel, originally published in 1952, is a compilation of several short stories written by Simak between 1944 and 1951 and published in Astounding Science Fiction magazine. (The story “Epilog” was written later in 1973 and after 1980 was added to the novel.) Written especially for the novel, “Scholarly Notes and Discussions” are included before each story, presenting futuristic viewpoints from learned, talking dogs debating the validity of these possible myths and legends. They ask the eternal doggish questions: “What is Man? What is City? What is War?”
Yes. Talking Dogs.
Just go with it. Seriously.
City is not bogged down by the mechanics of science. There are robots that last for a millennium, hologram suites and man-created talking dogs. Don’t fret over the technicalities. Yes, some of the “tech” sounds dated, but in the context that these stories are being presented, it’s like debating whether or not Noah could have fit all those animals in the Ark.
Because that’s what these stories are about. These are myths, legends; tails told around the fire (see what I did there?). Doggish scholars debate their legitimacy. This is the creation story of Dog and the fall of a being called Man.
Simak is a Grand Master of Science Fiction. That’s not me talking. It’s an actual title. He is the third Grand Master of the Science Fiction Writers Association. City is considered a masterpiece.
Long after you read the last page you will ponder the myths, legends and beliefs in your own life. Are they true or merely myths invented to help the human race understand their past?
City was on my short list of novels to read for many years. I lament it took me this long to finally get around to reading it. Don’t make the same mistake I did. I highly recommend this novel.
I received a free copy of this edition through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review of the novel.