The tracks went up one row and down another, and in those rows the vua plants had been sheared off an inch or two above the ground. The raider had been methodical; it had not wandered about haphazardly, but had done an efficient job of harvesting the first ten rows on the west side of the field.
I've long been a fan of classic science fiction novels. There's something ineffable about a book that sticks with generation after generation of new readers. It's the closest thing we have to time travel, and the stories that have aged well are worth remembering, and even revisiting from time to time.
This guest post from Emmanual Nataf, co-founder of author services marketplace Reedsy, reviews six of the most impactful science fiction novels of the 20th century from a 2019 point of view.
The City and The Stars by Arthur C. Clarke. Science fiction, 1956.
I’m still on a kick to catch up on the mid-century masters of science fiction—stuff that, by choice or by chance, I’ve never been exposed to. When I saw this one in Half Price Books with the awesome cover I had to have it.
Appropriately aged, don’t you think?
It took me a while to read this book, and even longer to write about it. It’s good. I just needed time to let it all sink in.
Here’s the thing. It starts slow. A billion years has passed and Clarke is painstakingly laying out for you reader how society has changed in all that time—a time your brain can hardly quantify.
It takes some getting used to. But there’s a pace shift about a quarter of the way through that will absolutely blow your mind.
Once exposed, the sheer scale of the concept that powers this book is impressive. This is a high concept novel. Relatively short in length, but on a massive scale.
What’s most astonishing is how well the story has aged. Technology has advanced considerably since Clarke wrote this and his vision of the far-future society remains perfectly plausible if we look at it from today—again, that scale.
It almost feels like the story is more relevant today than it was when he wrote it. Some of the language is very mid-century, but if you can get past that, I think you might like this science fiction epic, The City and The Stars.