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Simak's "City" is a series of connected stories, a series of legends, myths, and campfire stories told by Dogs about the end of human civilization, centering on the Webster family, who, among their other accomplishments, designed the ships that took Men to the stars and gave Dogs the gift of speech and robots to be their hands.

· City · May 1944
· Huddling Place · Jul 1944
· Census · Sep 1944
· Desertion · Nov 1944
· Paradise · Jun 1946
· Hobbies · Nov 1946
· Aesop · Dec 1947
· The Simple Way [The Trouble with Ants] · Jan 1951.

251 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1952

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About the author

Clifford D. Simak

818 books921 followers
"He was honored by fans with three Hugo awards and by colleagues with one Nebula award and was named the third Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) in 1977." (Wikipedia)

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clifford...

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,145 reviews
Profile Image for Bill Kerwin.
Author 1 book81.9k followers
September 16, 2019

Remember when you—the naïve philosopher—struck by the similarities of molecule and solar system, imagined your body to be composed of billions of nano-planets and stars? I do. I was twelve years old at the time, working at my parent's grocery, and I was suddenly forced to lean upon my push-broom to keep from falling headlong in a dizzy marvel of surprise.

Reading City (1952) is like that. Although now it may look naïve, simplistic, perhaps even shallow, but at the time it seemed so imaginatively brave, so wide in scope, that it made you dizzy to contemplate it.

Simak's book is certainly ambitious. Originally a series of eight short stories published from '44 tp '51, it stretches more than ten thousand years in the future, from the days when men abandoned the large industrial cities in fear of the atomic bomb, through the growing isolation and disappearance the human species, unable to come to grips with its own violence or feel comfortable in its own skin, to the new order established on earth by the talking dogs and their robot helpers, who now face the threat of a rising insect civilization.

Unfortunately, City, though broad in scope, lacks depth. The writing style is merely serviceable, and the characters are often thin, their motivations uncomplicated. Worse, the world itself lacks credibility, evolving according to a child-like version of lamarckian inheritance: for example, some genius sets a glass dome over an anthill so the little dudes won't have to hibernate, and soon they are building little factories and pushing things around in tiny carts).

Such deficiences, however, are almost counterbalanced by the ingenious, self-referential framework of the novel. Simak connects his eight stories with a series of introductory scholarly notes that summarize the opinions of Doggish critics through the centuries (with names like Rover, Tighe, and Towser), who analyze the significance of these fabulous ancient folktales and conjecture that humankind itself may be nothing but a canine myth.

Which is “wild,” man, it could “blow your top,” make you “flip your lid”—as my twelve year old self might say. And if the twelve-year-old philosopher lives in you—as he still lives in me—you may find something to enjoy in Simak's City.
Profile Image for Kevin Kuhn.
Author 2 books584 followers
July 2, 2020
This is a challenging review as I'm surprised I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I thought I would. Oh, I still enjoyed it, and certainly appreciated it. But it didn’t capture me as tightly as Way Station. I haven’t forgotten that it was written in the 1940’s and I think readers must consider that fact. I’m still excited to read more Simak, and this book works on many levels, but I failed to completely lose myself in it, as I do with my favorite reads.

However, Simak as an author continues to grow on me. He’s genuinely midwestern and writes calm, thoughtful science fiction. He has a strong connection to nature, and it shows in his prose. He’s a storyteller and I’d love to be able to share a whisky with him on his front porch while he spins a yarn. I’ve heard him referred to as naïve and even preachy and I think that’s at least partly true. But if an author asks more questions than provides answers, I’m ok with some overt themes. If you’re not trying to express yourself in your writing, what’s it for?

Anyway, on one level this is an expansive story that covers dramatic social change, robots, human mutants, animal uplift, planetary expansion, and even parallel dimensions. It’s a great deal to cover in a roughly 200-page book. Which incidentally is really a series of eight short stories and novellas with overarching notes that provide some context and tie the stories together. If your looking for hard sci-fi, look elsewhere. Much of the technology is never explained, and many parts of the story are disjointed and incomplete. This is, I believe, intentional, as the books is represented as fragmented historical archives that might, in fact, be fables or allegories told by generations of sentient dogs.

A second layer is the examination of family and human’s focus on home. He questions the necessity of cities and what would be both lost and gained if they were abandoned. Simak envisions warm fires in the hearth, a glass of fine whiskey, in a place that you can call home, a place with deep roots and a strong connection to a family linage. Much of the book is melancholy and subdued. Characters (including robots) often look back to the past with nostalgia.

Part of the issue with this book, is that to cover vast spans of time (thousands and thousands of years), much of the story rides above the characters and the action. We do get pulled into specific characters and events, but rarely long enough to become invested.

On another level, the framework of the story exists to allow Simak to explore his ideas around human nature and human destiny. While most sci-fi authors explore population explosions or overcrowding, Simak examines the opposite, a continuous decline of mankind’s numbers on the Earth. Along with the dwindling population, robots and other advancement eliminate the need for labor. This allows Simak to question humanities ability to persist without the struggle of toil and conquest to provide drive and motivation.

I’m sure this was an advanced novel for its time. I’m not claiming Simak established concepts such as robotics or mutants or animal uplift or radical social change over thousands of years, but certainly those areas were still relatively unexplored ground in the 1940’s.

A creative series of campfire stories told over generations by sentient dogs, about the decline of humanity. Four stars for this sprawling in scope, yet strangely brief sequence of fables that serve to examine human nature and our potential destiny.
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,678 reviews5,253 followers
August 31, 2012
gosh i loved this one!

City is a collection of eight connected stories depicting the future and end of mankind, and the rise of dogs. just as i always suspected, dogs will eventually inherit the earth. good dogs!

Simak is a humanist, but a clear-eyed one, an author who doesn't let much sentiment cloud his storytelling. man fails, and fails again, but his strivings are viewed with both careful distance and genuine affection. this is not one of those scifi novels about man being the architect of his own doom. well, i suppose it sort of is - but minus the doom part. there is a kind of transcendence achieved, or at least a movement by mankind into a state that is clearly more glorious and exuberant than their earthly forms. they reach for the stars (ding, ding, ding, cliche time arrives) but don't quite get there. eh, no matter. how does the song go? you can't always get what you want... but if you try sometimes... you get what you need. man gets what he needs. when dogs inherit the earth - well, perhaps, not our earth - man is basically a mythical creature. the stories in City are tales told and studied by the dog race a millenia in the future.

the novel is subtle, nuanced, tender; even-tempered and even-handed. the prose is clean and straightforward and rather literary as well. the narrative is anything but straightforward, although the stories move sequentially in time. people and places and things and ideas are mentioned, developed, dropped, and yet always return. nothing of value is left abandoned. this is not a novel that is by any means thuddingly obvious. i was consistently surprised at the twists and turns that each story took and how the story of our future history is developed. and don't expect hard science - or any realistic science in general - when reading this. expect yearning and melancholy and kindness and a sweet sort of poetry and an infinite largneness of spirit. it is a classic novel for many good reasons; i was completely enthralled. the kind of novel where, after i finished, all i wanted to do was hug the author for creating it.

of particular interest to me was the depiction of a society based on mechanistic ideas compared to that of a society based around more... i suppose the word would be psychic ideas. that still doesn't feel like the right word. some kind of word that includes psychic but also spiritual and emotional and mental. ish. ah well, words fail him. a typical human failing!

this would be a 5 star book for me but, sad to say, i did find the first story to be rather weak. the second story was interesting but i wasn't quite sold. the third story and beyond: perfection.

but hey, what is it all about? well,

ants evolving into mysterious threats and building strange structures, flights into alternate dimensions, dimensions that dogs can see, threats that exist in those dimensions and sometimes cross over, a robot guardian named Jenkins - guardian to the future race of dogs, intelligent animals, a brotherhood of animals, the last city of Geneva fallen silent and its denizens sleeping an endless sleep, the race of men transported elsewhere, the race of men now a handful of bow and arrow naturals, psychic robots, wild robots, mutant humans living in castles and crossing the universe through strange doorways, the family known as Webster - forever moving mankind forward (or not), a trap for humans built by mutants - a trap based around empathy, a terrible and remorseless mutant named Joe, Jupiter as a gateway to transcendence, the ability to change form and adapt to Jupiter, Nathaniel the first genetically enhanced dog, census-taking on a pastoral world, agoraphobia, Martian philosophers, a Martian plague, humanity moves first to the countryside and then from the earth itself, the death of cities...

and now i must beg your indulgence:

Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
September 3, 2022
One of the great science fiction novels of all time.

This was on my radar for literally decades and I don’t know why I never got around to reading this wonderful book. This should be my second or third rereading not my first time.

SF Grandmaster Clifford Simak put together some related short stories from the 40s and tied them together with “notes” from a later reader – a Dog – who opined about the origins of the stories about “Man” and the legends surrounding this mythic race of entities.

This has it all.

Far future setting, space travel, evolution, robots, multiverse, time travel, psychology, sociology, and PKD like discussions of theology and myth.

What happens to humanity thousands of years after they are no longer needed nor necessary? Who or what will inherit the earth after Man is gone?

It’s hard to track and document the influence this has had to writers and creators since its release in 1952, but it is one of a handful of seminal works that have had a far reaching impact on SF work and thought ever since. The inclusion and imperative of robots reminded me of Isaac Asimov’s work, Robots and Foundation, and Simak and Asimov were contemporaries.

Brilliant. A must read for fans of this genre.

Profile Image for Apatt.
507 reviews805 followers
February 3, 2021
“Thus far Man has come alone. One thinking, intelligent race all by itself. Think of how much farther, how much faster it might have gone had there been two races, two thinking, intelligent races, working together. For, you see, they would not think alike. They'd check their thoughts against one another. What one couldn't think of, the other could. The old story of two heads.”

Ah, that Clifford D. Simak, what a gent. He is one of the most optimistic, compassionate, and humanistic sci-fi authors ever. His lesser-known book All Flesh is Grass is the first science fiction novel I ever read, I took to the genre like a duck to water and never looked back since. So, I feel like I owe him—more than any other SF authors—a debt of gratitude. His works are sometimes described as “pastoral science fiction”, they usually have a rural setting and extol the virtues of the countryside life. There is also an avuncular feel to his prose style that is quite comforting and relaxing to read.

City is one of his best-known books, the winner of the International Fantasy Award for 1952*, and a part of the SF Masterworks series. In spite of the title, the book is not about a particular city or of cities in general. It is a fix-up novel comprising nine stories with an interstitial introduction by a dog (stop laughing back there!) for each of the first eight, the ninth story was published more than twenty years after the others, and is introduced by the author.

City, in spite of its modest page count of around 224 pages, is epic in scope. The first half of the book depicts the slow decline of human civilization, as atomic powered personal air transport, hydroponics and space colonization do away with poverty, hunger and the need for people to live in cities. Later on, most of humanity migrate to live in Jupiter where they can live in paradise, at the cost of losing their humanity through extreme physical modification. The few humans remaining on Earth are catered for by robots and live a meaningless life of plenty. A scientist named Bruce Webster surgically modifies dogs to give them sapient intelligence, speech, and literacy and gives rise to humanity’s successor (not usurper). From then on the book shifts its focus to the rise of the dog’s civilization, with help and guidance from a robot called Jenkins, and robots in general that function as the dogs’ hands for tasks which require building. Towards the end of the book, humans become mythical creatures most dogs no longer believe in (don’t worry, this is not a spoiler, the introduction to the very first story—written by a dog—already mentions this).

In spite of the decline and fall of humanity City is not a dystopian sci-fi, mankind fades away somewhat happily, in a post-scarcity civilization, eventually most of them finding a happier state of being and leaving their humanity behind. Simak has a rare ability to make his stories compelling without including action scenes as such. The pacing and tone of his narrative tend to be contemplative but the philosophical questions he raises are often fascinating and more than make up for the absence of edge of the seat thrills. Considering it is a fix-up novel—where the first eight stories were originally published between 1944 and 1951, and the ninth in 1973—it is surprising cohesive as a novel. The robot Jenkins, practically a protagonist, appears in most of the stories and the shadow of the Webster family looms over all of them, even after the family members are long gone. The interconnected stories are all very good individually, but together they form a wonderful narrative with an epic story arc that spans thousands of years.

Simak was never a hard science fiction writer, quite the opposite even. The science behind his fiction is mostly rather vague and of the “handwavium” variety. For examples, some robots begin to develop psychic abilities, how? The surgical modifications Webster made to the dogs breed through to successive generations of dogs. How? Ah! nevermind! Perhaps this is why he is not as revered as the likes of Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein from the same era. The robots in this book are practically indistinguishable from humans in term of personality and behavior, except they are all very nice and kind. While there is no actual tragedy in this book the narrative does develop an air of melancholic wistfulness towards the end, where the themes of abandonment and loneliness become dominant. The dogs and the robots are utterly charming, and the Webster family members are sympathetic and believable. There are no villains as such, except some unsympathetic mutants and the inscrutable ants. I had a great—if slightly wistful—time reading City, and I thoroughly recommend it.

* Yes, it is very old, but it’s like fine wine.

• There are many variants of City book covers. This one best represents the book, I think:

This one also comes close:

This is the edition I actually bought decades ago:

• If I can’t convince you to read City, perhaps this great article at Tor.com can.

• Simak’s Way Station is also an unmissable classic.

“Aside from the concept of the city, another concept which the reader will find entirely at odds with his way of life and which may violate his very thinking, is the idea of war and of killing. Killing is a process, usually involving violence, by which one living thing ends the life of another living thing. War, it would appear, was mass killing carried out on a scale which is inconceivable.”

"The city is an anachronism. It has outlived its usefulness. Hydroponics and the helicopter spelled its downfall.”

“If Man had taken a different path, might he not, in time to come, have been as great as Dog?”
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,102 followers
February 2, 2014
I've heard about this novel (series of short stories that are related closely) for years, always referred to in terms of deep respect and honor, and now that I've finished reading it, I can add my own.

It was very clever to throw the viewpoint in from robots and dogs and see the lost civilization of man from their viewpoints, but I found it more interesting to see the complete eradication of so much of Earth's life, seen from Jenkin's point of view. Perhaps I'm just a cynical bastard and I love to see a great downfall, but the reasoning behind the downfall was doggone great. I found myself feeling ok, all around, with the eventuality of everything that happened. I might even say this was a feel-good book, and full of optimism. Seriously, it was a novel full of contradictions, and I was delighted to no end.
Profile Image for Lizz.
234 reviews58 followers
May 29, 2022
I don’t write reviews.

This series of stories contain more than meets the eye. Read carefully and think deeply. You will be left changed.

“One world and then another, running like a chain. One world treading on the heels of another world that plodded just ahead. One world’s tomorrow, another world’s today. And yesterday is tomorrow and tomorrow is the past…”

“… Like two dogs walking in one another’s tracks. One dog steps out and another dog steps in. Like a long, endless row of ball bearings running down a groove, almost touching, but not quite. Like the links of an endless chain running on a wheel with a billion billion sprockets….”

“… A thick thing and a final thing. For there was no past. There was no going back. No going back to find out about the things that Jenkins talked about — the things things that might be truth or twisted memory warped by seven thousand years. No going back to check up on the cloudy legends that hold about a house and a family of websters and a closed dome of nothingness that squatted in the mountains far across the sea.”
Profile Image for Ivan.
435 reviews284 followers
May 13, 2019
So far the strongest candidate for the best book I read this year.
Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,233 reviews1,046 followers
June 27, 2023
'City' is a novel which is actually made up of nine stories, originally published separately, but later strung together with a series of 'notes' explaining that these stories are part of the mythological heritage of the civilisation of Dogs, who believe that the existence of Man is most probably only a legend.

· City · May 1944
Occasionally, you read an old science fiction story and are just blown away by the remarkable prescience of the author and his or her ability to predict future events.
Well, in this case... Simak sure got it wrong!
According to the United Nations, "Today, 54 per cent of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 66 per cent by 2050. Projections show that urbanization combined with the overall growth of the world’s population could add another 2.5 billion people to urban populations by 2050." [http://www.un.org/en/development/desa...]
However, in Simak's 1980's, the opposite has happened. With the energy crisis utterly solved by atomics, personal planes becoming ubiquitous, and hydroponic advances eliminating the need for farmland, the concept of the city has died. Most people have gotten the hell out of Dodge, and commute to their jobs from distant, expansive estates. Without cities to serve as targets for bombs, world peace has finally arrived.
However, as with any radical social shift, there are a few kinks to be worked out, and some dissatisfaction to be dealt with... perhaps in an uncomfortably totalitarian way.

· Huddling Place · Jul 1944
Two hundred years after the events of the previous story, the descendants of the characters in 'City' are still living on their country estate - similarly to most of humanity. Martian civilization has been discovered, and friendly relations are in effect.
However, an unfortunate side effect of humanity's new lifestyle is just emerging: served by robots and with access to what seems just like the Internet, people don't need to physically 'go' anywhere - and have developed extreme agoraphobic tendencies.

· Census · Sep 1944
This third segment definitely works better in the context of the whole than as a standalone. A census-taker comes out to the old estate. Another couple of generations have passed. The government is interested in any anomalous events - and the census taker indeed finds them here. A scientific tinkerer has created talking dogs; and a mysterious mountain man who doesn't seem to age is reputed to show up, fix things, and disappear 'without waiting for thanks.'

· Desertion · Nov 1944
I believe I read this one before, years ago. It's by far my favorite Simak short that I've read so far.
On Jupiter, an experimental program is in place to transpose men into the bodies of Jovian native fauna in order to allow people to go out into the hostile environment. The procedure seems to work perfectly - but something is going wrong. So far, the first four test subjects have gone out into the wilds of Jupiter - and have not returned.
The head of the program may have no moral option but to change tack.

· Paradise · Jun 1946
We're now a thousand years from the time of the first story.
This one ties in elements of the previous stories: mutants without a social instinct, the promise of an unfinished Martian philosophy (which may actually have been completed by said mutants), robots and intelligent dogs. But the main focus is on the possibility of a Paradise on Jupiter - the attainment of which might involve giving up something intrinsic to the human identity.

· Hobbies · Nov 1946
The dogs have begun to rise, forming their own society. The vast majority of human have opted for what, today we'd call the singularity - joining the transcended on Jupiter. Only a few thousand humans remain on Earth, and of those, many have opted for a virtual reality of dreams, not planning to come out of their hibernations for hundreds of years. The few left awake while away their time pursuing non-essential hobbies.
I thought this segment was a bit over-long - it dragged in parts. But many of the ideas it contains feel very ahead of their time.

· Aesop · Dec 1947
Again, this piece works in the context of the novel, but wouldn't be that strong on its own. The dogs, now ascendant on Earth, have established a society of peace and non-violence, 'raising up' all the other animals to intelligence is a world where the lion does indeed lie down with the lamb. However, there are cracks in this perfect facade, and undercurrents of the animal nature of these creatures.
Meanwhile, with the elimination of the predator/prey relationships, overpopulation is becoming a serious issue. The answer may lie in the recent discovery of parallel worlds.

· The Simple Way [The Trouble with Ants] · Jan 1951
The subtitle says it all. Harking back to a by-the-by bit mentioned in one of the early stories, the dogs, still the dominant species on Earth, have noticed a disturbing phenomenon: the ant civilization, long ago 'uplifted' (to steal David Brin's term) casually by a tinkering mutant, is now expanding rapidly. Are the ants, whose thought processes are opaque, planning on taking over the planet?
The fate of the Earth may come down to a moral choice.
[Interesting, that choice is, once again, in the hands of a robot. It's a recurring but unexamined trope in this cycle that a lot of the 'hinge-points' rest on robots - one robot, to be precise.]

· Epilog · 1973
Written over 20 years later, this story was not originally included in 'City.' It also lacks the entertaining fictional 'notes' that precede the other stories, instead having a serious 'note.'
Here, yet another civilization has fallen, and it's time for Jenkins, the robot, who's been the constant throughout all these stories, to decide whether it's time to close up shop.
It's very similar in fee to Simak's 'All the Traps of Earth,' I thought.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Open Road Media for the opportunity to read this book. As always, my opinions are solely my own.
Profile Image for Maryam.
721 reviews124 followers
June 9, 2023
For me, older science fiction always has a richer flavor than more modern pieces. Don't get me wrong, I also enjoy reading modern science fiction, but reading old sci fi usually makes me feel nostalgic. City is no different. Eight distinct but connected tales are narrated in a future where there are no signs of humans on earth. We learn how the earth came to be as it is now while the narratives go on.

Dogs are descendants of the earth, and they have these tales as historical records as well as theories about whether or not to trust them.

So long ago, thought Jenkins. So many things have happened, Bruce Webster was just starting to experiment with dogs, had no more than dreamed his dream of talking, thinking dogs that would go down the path of destiny paw in hand with Man… not knowing then that Man within a few short centuries would scatter to the four winds of eternity and leave the Earth to robot and to dog. Not knowing then that even the name of Man would be forgotten in the dust of years, that the race would come to be known by the name of a single family.

Thanks Brad for recommending this book to me.
Profile Image for Jamie.
1,196 reviews114 followers
October 22, 2019
Simak did a stellar job with this "fix up" novel, composed of nine separately published short stories, adding a compelling framing narrative and meta-story in the form of editor's notes for each. These are narrated from the POV of a far future civilization of dogs.

This is ultimately an apocalyptic tale spanning millennia, and one of man's ultimate legacy, the good and bad. Man goes out not with a bang but a whimper, gradually retreating into himself and his past while supplanted by others either constructed by him (robots) or "uplifted" by him (animals). The stories strike a deeply somber mood, initially waxing nostalgic on man's past as he marches relentlessly into the future, expressing sorrow for those who slip between the cracks of progress, the throwbacks who don't fit into the new future. Later stories introduce some fascinating elements, peeling back the nature of time and reality, that offer some hope to those remaining on an inhospitable Earth, if not to man, than to his heirs apparent.
Profile Image for Sarah.
Author 110 books754 followers
May 29, 2012
This slim white hardcover from the Science Fiction Book Club has caught my eye numerous times over the years, nestled between its bigger shelfmates in my family's science fiction collection. I had a vague knowledge that it was narrated by dogs, and a vague knowledge that this was a "fix-up novel" - a group of short stories tied together with an overarching structure for publication purposes. I'm glad I didn't go into it with any further preconceptions. Simak did an excellent job of linking the stories; I thought the conceit of the story notes added great depth to the ideas put forth in the stories.
The book consists of eight stories and a framework of notes that precede each story. I'd like to call them anthropological field notes, but I think the more accurate term might be caninological, since they are written by an advanced race of dogs. "These are the stories the Dogs tell, when the fires burn high and the wind is from the north," says one of the early notes. The stories the dogs examine span twelve thousand years, starting in a near future with dates now past. Some of the stories are put forth as apocryphal, some as fables, some as containing a germ of truth. They discusses the nature of time, and the nature of the bond between dogs and people, and the nature of dogs, and the instincts that govern both. A human family by the name of Webster is present in almost all of the tales. The Webster family robot, Jenkins, serves as the human proxy when no human is available, and as a common thread woven through the lengthy timeline. Jenkins is a surprisingly rich character, with fascinating motives.
I had never read Simak before, and didn't expect the beauty of the language or the depth of the ideas he explores. Though this is a story of dog, it is also a story of mutants and robots and ants and men and websters and Websters and cities and aliens and cobblies, all of which cycle in and out of the stories. I loved the way various members of that cast of characters appeared and reappeared. New situations were sketched with a deft hand, bringing the reader up to date quickly despite jumps of thousands of years.
If I have any complaint, it is the absolute lack of female characters. I don't think a single female dog is named in the entire book, and there are only a couple of human women, dismissed quickly. I can justify it somewhat by making a connection to fables and fireside stories, and suggesting that each Wolf and Bear and Squirrel is meant to stand for something larger. Still, it speaks to the quality of the stories and the concepts and the prose that I was mostly able to ignore the rather glaring omission of half of the population. I would probably name this as my new favorite novel-in-stories.
Profile Image for Велислав Върбанов.
443 reviews45 followers
August 17, 2023
„Градът“ на Клифърд Саймък е великолепна научна фантастика! Достави ми огромно удоволствие четенето на тези разкази, които се превърнаха в едни от любимите ми от жанра... По силата на отправените от автора послания, бих поставил „Градът“ наравно с другия негов шедьовър - „Всичко живо е трева“. Самият Саймък споделя в предговора, че е написал разказите в резултат от неговата загуба на вяра в човечеството, след създаването и използването на ядрено оръжие...

Книгата представлява сборник от 8 предания, които са оцелели след няколко хиляди години в бъдещето... Тогава най-развитата цивилизация на планетата е тази на Кучетата, а пък човечеството се е превърнало в митична част от миналото, която е забулена в тайни и почти нищо не се знае за нея. Кучетата могат да мислят, говорят, четат и са получили шанса да създадат на Земята общество, в което убийствата и войните не съществуват. Отделните разкази обхващат голям период от време, като главни герои в тях са различни поколения от рода Уебстър. Роботът Дженкинс също е основен персонаж. Той е служил дълги години на Уебстър, превръщайки се в част от семейството, а пък след залеза на Човешката цивилизация помага на Кучетата... Действието се развива предимно на Земята, но също така и на Юпитер, споменава се и за заселване на други планети, като дори е засегната и темата за паралелните светове.

За мен, „Градът“ е едно от най-хуманните четива, което дава изключително важни теми за размисъл. Саймък има невероятно въображение... Силно препоръчвам!
Profile Image for Hákon Gunnarsson.
Author 27 books134 followers
August 12, 2017
City by Clifford D. Simak is a fix up, or in other words a group of short stories that are connected to form a novel. City was originally made up of eight short stories, but Simak wrote one more story years after the original publication, a story called Epilogue, and this story has often been included in later editions. It's the story of how men lost the Earth, how dogs and robots took over from man, and how that turned out.

After reading the first short story in City I almost gave up on it. That story has not aged well in my view, but I had heard good things about it so I stuck it out through the next story, and that one was better. Every story after the first one are pretty good. The fourth one is in fact one of the more beautiful science fiction short story I have read. I like it so well that I might actually read this book again just for that story.

Fix ups don't always make good novels, it City works as a novel. Simak has connected the stories by mini essay about how dog scholars have interpreted each story. With that use Simak has managed to connected them well enough for this to feel like a novel. This story spans thousand of years, but it does work well.

City is an apocalyptic story in a way, but it's a very unusual entry into that genre. It's not just that we watch Earth go through more than one such event, but it is also the reasons for the apocalypse that is unusual. The apocalypse that mankind goes through seems to have a certain relevance today which I thought interesting. It's a sad story, and one that in parts hasn't aged terribly well. Stuff like the almost complete absence of women is one of the aspects that makes it more dated than it could have been. Despite that, and despite that beginning, I like it. It is an interesting science fiction novel.
Profile Image for Marvin.
1,414 reviews5,330 followers
June 8, 2012
Of all the great science fiction writers of the 50s, my favorite is Clifford D. Simak. He is also one of the authors that has fared poorly as we begin the 21th century. His novels are not that easy to find in reprints. While Simak could write of space travel and androids as well as the Heinleins and the Asimovs, he was most comfortable in the setting of rural Wisconsin and generously laced his stories with a sense of American pastoralism. In fact he was often called the pastoralist of science fiction. City is arguably his best novel but in actuality it is not a novel but a series of short stories on the fall of man and the rise of his intelligence ascendant, the dog. The tales are connected with comments by a canine historian as he discuss whether they are myth or history. The "novel" starts with this intriguing passage.

These are the stories that dogs tell when the fires burn and the wind is from the north. Then each family gathers at the heartstone and the pups sit silently and listen and when the story's done they ask many questions."What is Man? " they'll ask.
Or perhaps: "What is a city?"
Or"What is a war?"
There is no positive answer to any of these questions.

Simak is dealing with the extinction of the human race but as is typical for his novels, man does not go out with a bang but a whimper and the universe continues in odd but steady ways. Simak is the most thoughtful of the Golden Age writers. The first two stories are not that impressive but they set the stage for the the book's later and most brilliant tales. When Simak's cast of humans, dogs, mutants, robots and insects start rolling the book becomes mesmerizing and thought provoking. I have not read a Simak novel in years yet this re-reading of City was as good as the first and I believe I'll be revisiting this Sci-Fi master again soon.

Profile Image for Lena.
1,152 reviews254 followers
August 2, 2018
“I can't go back," said Towser.
"Nor I," said Fowler.
"They would turn me back into a dog," said Towser.
"And me," said Fowler, "back into a man." 

I was blown away by this classic.

Starting with an alternative 1950s Simak has written over one hundred thousand years of human history in nine short stories; humbly following the path of one family.

The ideas felt fresh, only the optimism dated. But optimism, in the form of solar punk, is up and coming.

These stories heavily favored non violence and that’s just one of many reasons I think City should be required high school reading above stories like Brave New World, The Stranger, and The Catcher in the Rye.

We should all read more Simak.
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,516 reviews11.2k followers
December 21, 2009
4.0 to 4.5 stars. I have not read all of Clifford Simak's novels (my bad) but I have enjoyed every one that I have read so far and this book is no exception. The novel is actually a "fix up" series of connected short stories that range from the superb (i.e., 5.0 to 6.0 stars) (the Huddling Place and Desertion) to the very good (Aesops) (i.e., 3.0 to 4.0 stars). All of the stories deal with the decline of the human "cities" and the results on mankind over a vast period of time. The version I read (listened to actually as it was the audiobook from audible.com) also included the "ninth" story in the City series called "Epilog" which was written over 20 years after the others. I did not like this story as much as the others, but it was still an okay coda. Overall: Highly recommended.

Winner: International Fantasy Award 91952)

Profile Image for Stuart.
722 reviews270 followers
August 12, 2015
City: Pastoral SF classic where Rover takes over
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
City is a well-loved classic by Clifford D. Simak published back in 1952 and awarded the International Fantasy Award in 1954. It’s actually a collection of linked far-future stories written between 1944 and 1951 about men, mutants, dogs, robots, ants and stranger beings still. It’s told as a series of episodes that trace the evolution of the various species as they reach out to space, but also follows the fates of those groups that remain on Earth.

I would describe Simak’s writing style as “pastoral,” “contemplative,” “philosophical,” and “understated,” and as he was born in rural Wisconsin, there is a recurring theme in his books of rugged Midwestern individuals who take greater pleasure in solitude and the countryside than in crowded cities. As his favorite pastimes were fishing, chess, stamp collecting, and gardening, it’s easy to see how his personality makes its way into his stories. He was designated a SFWA Grand Master and was well regarded in the SF field. However, for readers with more modern sensibilities, his books may seem very quaint and uneventful. Certainly I wouldn’t consider his books “fast-paced” or “intense.” But if your temperament is aligned with his, you might like his work.

In City, we are introduced to the Webster family, who live in the countryside in a future where humanity has developed a decentralized society of independent farms and abandoned city life. As this is the exact opposite of how the world has developed in our world, it’s interesting to speculate how much of this is wish fulfillment for Simak, and how much is based on unbiased extrapolation. I’d hazard that after WWII, based on the explosive growth of suburbs and urban jobs, it’s hard to argue that people would move towards a more agrarian existence, although he does give the threat of nuclear attack as an incentive to live more decentralized lives on farms with their dogs and robots.

The story proceeds to show how robots become increasingly sophisticated and start to develop intelligence, centered on a faithful robot servant named Jenkins (I wonder if he had the butler’s outfit or not). There is also a faithful dog named Towser. There are many hokey scenes of Webster men hunting with their dogs and going after squirrels and rabbits and so on, and these really bored me, but they might appeal to readers yearning for simple country life. The early parts of the book really lacked any kind of narrative energy, as very little happens, and I found it hard to care much about the main characters.

From there the stories move out into space, as mankind seeks to colonize Jupiter, an inhospitable gaseous environment. To survive there, they must take the drastic step of transforming their bodies to a more suitable form, which opens up telepathic communication between man and dogs (who also went through the process). The new bodies and lifestyle are more appealing than human life back on Earth, and these creatures choose to remain on Jupiter. Later on, other humans decide to migrate to Jupiter as well, leaving on a small scattering of humans back on Earth. I found this story fairly hard to follow, even though the ideas were interesting.

Later stories jump 10,000 years further into the future, when dog civilization has taken over the Earth, assisted by robots. Dogs have developed a pacifist society where all animals are respected and not eaten anymore. Dogs are less interested in the mechanical and intellectual pursuits of humans, but instead pursue more intuitive directions. Meanwhile, there are small enclaves of Websters (a synonym for humans) still surviving, but they live a lonely existence bereft of initiative, and many decide to go into hibernation in the hopes of seeing a better future for humans. At the same time, some new beings called “cobblies” appear, and apparently they can travel between worlds. The robot Jenkins (who is remarkably still around, still faithfully doing his best butler impression) finds a way to emulate this ability to enter other worlds, and decides that humans would be better off somewhere away from dog civilization. My interest at this point was flagging pretty badly, so I really had a tough time keeping up with the story’s details.

In the finals parts of City, Simak returns his focus to Earth, which has now been taken over by an Ant City, a process first began by a mutant telepath in one of the earlier stories who has meddled in human affairs but has little sympathy for normal men. Throughout the stories the mutants co-exist with other beings only grudgingly. The ever-helpful Jenkins seeks a solution for the ants by consulting with the last Websters, but they merely suggest poisoning the ants to destroy them. As the dogs are a pacifist race, they opt instead to leave the Earth to the ant civilization. It took the entire book for me to figure out why it is called City, which I feel was a poor choice of title since it doesn’t really describe the storyline at all. If anything, the book could have been entitled “Country Living,” or “When Rover Takes Over,” or “A Man and His Dog and Robot Servant.”

I’ve wanted to read Simak’s books for a long time, particularly City and Way Station, the latter having won the 1964 Hugo Award. I can certainly see the care he put into his writing, and City abounds with interesting SF ideas, but I found them extremely implausible and not very well explained. His characters also struck me as flat and uninteresting, and the storyline was frankly quite boring. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Peter Ganim, and he did a good job capturing the meditative tone of the story. However, that was a double-edged sword as I was continually struggling to maintain any interest in the book, and my concentration failed again and again. This might have been less so if I read a print copy, but then I’ve listened to many audiobooks and loved them, so I have to believe the story was the problem. Next time I read a story about the world going to the dogs (and robots), I’m hoping it will be more convincing.
Profile Image for Oleksandr Zholud.
1,117 reviews112 followers
July 22, 2022
This is an SF novel, re-worked by the author from his short stories and originally published in 1952. I read it as a part of monthly reading for July 2022 at The Evolution of Science Fiction group. Way earlier, around 1990, I’ve read the Russian translation of the book (except the last story) and was impressed by it. Re-reading it in original English more than 3 decades later I was glad that it kept its captivating story and memorable characters. Even if it reads as old-fashioned, with not a significant diversity of characters, it is still a great book.

The structure of the book is as follows: there are eight stories (plus an epilogue, written in 1973 and out-of-character, with the author’s preface), each preceded with a pseudo-academic musing supposedly written by a dog, who is part of canine civilization, even if the last word is misleading, for there are no cities and civitas is Latin for "city". These prefaces are written partially as a parody of Biblical texts, e.g. their “Proof from Design”, where God made all things to fit where they belong, like the long necks of giraffes where leaves are high or the white fur of arctic animals because of the snow, or gold near the equator because it is closer to Sun. Dogs use similar proofs to show that they developed robots:

Tige’s insistence that the robot is an invention of Man, a heritage that our race carries forward from Man, has been sturdily attacked by most other students of the legend.
The idea that the robot may have been fashioned and given to the Dogs as an aid to the development of their culture, Bounce believes, is an idea which must be summarily ruled out by the very virtue of its romanticism. It is, he contends, a story device on the face of it and as such must necessarily be suspect from the first.
There is no way now of knowing how the Dogs evolved a robot. Those few scholars who have given some time to a study of the development of robotry, point out that the highly specialized use to which the robot is put does indeed argue that it was invented by a Dog. To be so specialized, they argue, the robot must necessarily have been invented and developed by the race for whose particular use it is so singularly fitted. No one other than a Dog, they contend, could have done so good a job on so intricate a tool.

The stories themselves start with “City” which gave the book its title and describes a version of a global village, the Earth turned into after hydroponics replaced land agriculture, driven by atomic power helicopters solved transportation problems and fear of A-bomb made people leave cities. It also introduces Webster family and their robot servant, Jenkins, who are paramount to the future stories, with the saga spreading for thousands of years.

It is very interesting how these stories connect to the works of Olaf Stapledon, who also had a pseudo-academic future history in his Last and First Men and Star Maker, as well as a talking highly sentient dog in Sirius: A Fantasy of Love and Discord. Possibly, like a lot of scientific discoveries made almost simultaneously by different people these ideas were part of the Zeitgeist of the 1930s and 1940s SF.

Profile Image for Dan.
1,135 reviews52 followers
November 29, 2018
City is a well written and quirky novel of some 200 pages by Clifford Simak. He is considered a grandmaster of sci-fi, winning three Hugo awards over four decades of writing, only Heinlein won more. City is Simak’s second most popular book.

In City there are eight connected chapters and an epilogue that together span some 10,000 years of civilization on Earth, Mars and Jupiter. Jenkins is a family robot who provides the constancy between the chapters. In the early chapters we see the humans on Earth, centered on the Webster family, grow isolated from one another. A large population of humans decide to leave earth and over the course of many years begin to die out across the solar system.

Before the humans die out one of the scientists discovers the mechanism that prevents animals from evolving into advanced sentient beings. He successfully applies his learnings to canines and over a long period of time they become sentient. Over the chapters the dogs forget what the humans taught them about many things. In particular the dogs become frustrated with ants becoming sentient and building large cities (not just ant mounds) From the robot and the Webster family, the dogs learn how humans dealt with ants in the far distant past and the dogs eventually leave and the ant civilization fails. It is not clear if the dogs exterminated the ants and their cities or if they failed for other reasons.

This thought provoking story is in the realm of sci-fi, ala Bradbury, spending little time discussing the science behind the technology. Simak, in a novel way, instead explores concepts around humanity and the tenuousness of human civilization.

The narration in City remains at arms length to the characters and while introspective this is not a particularly sad or visceral book.

4 Stars
Profile Image for Diana Stoyanova.
604 reviews130 followers
July 17, 2020
Това, което най- силно провокира Саймък да напише " Градът", всъщност е войната, и по- скоро нейното отражение върху човечеството и света като цяло.

" „ГРАДЪТ“ беше написан не като протест (каква полза от протест?), а в търсене на един въображаем свят, който би послужил за противовес на бруталността, през която светът преминаваше. Може би дълбоко в себе си аз опитвах да създам свят, в който аз и други обезверени хора биха могли за момент да намерят убежище от този, в който живеехме."

Клифърд Саймък

Впечатлена съм от свежото чувство за хумор, което се промъква из фантастичния свят на Саймък, напук на мрачната обстановка. Атмосферата е носталгична и тегли мислите към едно отминало време, докато междувременно група хора се опитват да пренастроят обществото към нов начин на живот чрез своите манипулативни методи.
Саймък строи свят, в който властва не Човекът, а изкуствено еволюирали Кучета и роботи. Защо ли?! Защото Човекът се е изгубил в своята бруталност, егоизъм и жажда за власт, и се е самоунищожил. Животинският свят взема превес над човешкия.
" Градът" е поредица от навързани кучешки разкази, в които проследяваме съдбата на човешката цивилизация.
Науката дарява кучетата с разум и съзнание, способност да говорят и мислят. Хората се изолират или пък се отправят към звездите… Но след хиляди години Земята отново ги тегли към себе си, защото си мислят, че те са нейните пълноправни наследници. Дали обаче са наистина достатъчно осъзнати, за да започнат ново по- отговорно и мъдро начало?! Това ще ни разкрие самият Саймък в неговата визия за бъдещото поколение.
Profile Image for Donna.
543 reviews182 followers
November 29, 2015
This book wasn't at all what I was expecting. I thought it would be a relatively light book to read with the promise of intelligent, talking dogs sitting around a campfire telling stories of Man who no longer ruled Earth and was only a myth to them. But what I soon discovered was, this book was a heavy, mind-boggling, thought-provoking look at the twin societies of Man and Beast, chronicling the step by step downfall of the former and the rise of the latter.

This was a highly imaginative collection of eight interconnected stories linked by introductions to a larger one, and including an epilogue the author added twenty years after these stories were originally published separately in the science fiction magazine "Astounding," during the 1940's. These stories were extremely sad, but it was a sadness that was good, something that came from dreams dissolving into wisps of hope that the dreams might materialize again in a different form and be realized. What the heck does that mean? It means I felt empathy for the humans in this book who strove and strove, but failed, and were the architects of their own demise, not from greed or violence as you might expect. No, it was from visions of a better future achieved by tampering with their own progress and with that of other species. In other words, the way to hell is paved with good intentions. That's one of the things that made this book unique. There weren't a bunch of evil people racing around, plotting to rule and ruin the world. They only wanted the world to be a better place, according to what that meant to them. As the book put it, "Man was running a race, if not with himself, then with some imagined follower who pressed close upon his heels, breathing on his back. Man was engaged in a mad scramble for power and knowledge, but nowhere is there any hint of what he meant to do with it once he had attained it."

These stories centered on the men of the Webster family whose actions or inactions caused a domino effect that wiped out the society of Mankind on Earth. In its place, dogs that a Webster altered to enable them to talk came to inherit Man's place on Earth, developing a very different society than he. But if you think that canine society involved nothing but eating and playing and scratching at fleas, you'd be wrong. But like any society built on ideals, it had its problems that soon led to others and to a crisis man never faced in his own society.

The author wrote these stories as a reaction to the horrors of WW2 and to the fear instilled by the atomic age. But it might as well have been written in modern times in reaction to man's use and misuse of technology with its beneficial and damaging effects on society. I'd call this story a cautionary tale without any preaching. This is a slow-paced story that, while not action-packed, is packed full of cerebral musings on society and the individual coping with its disintegration, causing him anxiety, loneliness, aimlessness, and disconnection. Still, despite the heavy subject matter, this book's inventiveness entertained me and the writing was excellent, even poetic in some parts:

"A rocker squeaked and the sound was one with the time-stained room. One with the wind along the eaves and the mumble of the chimney’s throat. Fire, thought Jenkins. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a fire. Men used to like a fire. They used to like to sit in front of it and look into it and build pictures in the flames. And dream—"

Yet all wasn't wonderful with this book. One problem I had was that the characters were only representative and lacked dimension, if not feelings, acting as mere chess pieces in the sociological "what if" game the author invented. The only character with any depth was the loyal, though sometimes disobedient robot, Jenkins, who bore witness to everything for tens of thousands of years. He may have been made of metal, but he had the heart and soul of man inside him, representing Man's continuance even after he was gone.

As a side note, there were only two women in this book in two blink and you miss them moments. This truly is a story about Man. How different the story and its outcome might have been had more women been in key roles.

Speaking of the outcome, Simak was reluctant to write the epilogue included in this book. Originally, it was only to be part of a memorial collection in honor of his deceased editor and friend, but he was persuaded to include it as the final word for his book. And having read the epilogue, I can see why Simak felt as he did about it. But I have to say, unlike the original ending without it, it was an ending I'll never forget, one that twisted my heart and left me wanting to give one of the characters a great big hug. I'll definitely be reading more of this author in the future for his imaginative thought provoking work that also entertains.

Profile Image for A. Raca.
739 reviews152 followers
February 20, 2021

"İnsanoğlunun kendine has bir özelliği var... Çok kötü bir özellik. Yoluna çıkan her şeyin üstesinden gelebilme özelliği."

"Kent"ler artık boşalmış, toplumun birlikte yaşaması gereksiz olmuş. Çünkü mesafeler kalkmış, tarım bitmiş, teknoloji çok gelişmiş. 8 öyküden ibaret bir kitap ama bir ailenin 7bin yıllık hikayesi bir yandan.
İnsanlar bu süre zarfında mit olmuş, geri kalanı spoilere girecek yazmıyorum ancak yine sonunda kalbim kırıldı.
İnsanların bulunduğu yeri kirlettiğine dikkat çekiyor yazar.
Profile Image for Rachel (Kalanadi).
734 reviews1,434 followers
May 27, 2017
A really good read. I like the framework used to stitch the stories together, with Doggish academics arguing about whether Man existed or not. The one reason it never truly got off the ground for me is that the science is so clearly wrong and odd, and even though I certainly know this is old and Simak writes very pastoral sci fi, I could not turn off the questioning part of my brain that constantly cried "but that makes no sense!" But it was still good.
Profile Image for Williwaw.
435 reviews20 followers
June 8, 2012
Why is Clifford Simak virtually a forgotten writer?

"City" won the International Fantasy Award in 1952. Simak won a Hugo for his novella, "The Big Front Yard." He also won a Hugo for "Way Station" in 1964. Simak was a big wheel in the science fiction world back then.

So again, I ask. why is he forgotten? I have combed the shelves of used book shops, and Simak's books are tough to find. I don't know if this means that collectors tended to hoard Simak's books, or if it means that people commonly threw them out when they finished reading them.

"City" is a fascinating book. I'm sure that many readers today would find it lacking in interesting human characters; lacking in a compelling plot; lacking female characters; and disappointingly undramatic. It's certainly not a novel in the conventional sense. (But then, neither was Bradbury's "Martian Chronicles.")

Nevertheless, Simak's book is both quaint and brilliant. For example, the most consistent and memorable character throughout the book is a robot waiter called Jenkins, who, over many generations, serves whisky to a family of humans called the Websters. The overarching premise of the book is that humans eventually find a better life on Jupiter after an experimental team converts their bodies into another species. When the general population discovers that this paradisical life is available through such conversion, most of them abandon Earth. Earth is thus left in the hands of engineered dogs and robots, who begin to build their own pacifist cultures. Man (Simaks term; we'd say "humans" today, to put it in a sex-neutral way) becomes a forgotten species or a dimly remembered, mythical creature that adult dogs tell stories about to their pups before bed. Dogs sit around the fire and debate whether humans and cities ever dominated the earth in the remote past, as the myths relate.

A small band of survivalist humans remains at large. Before long, the dogs and robots discover that, despite their efforts to purge the band of their propensity for violence, human blood-lust is unstoppable. So the dogs and robots kindly export the humans to another world.

"City" was originally a loosely connected collection of stories, published at different times in Astounding Science fiction (mostly during the "Golden Age" of sf literature). Simak cemented these stories together with some interlinear commentary by dog scholars, in order to sell them as a single, book-length work. The interwoven doggish commentary is written in a mock-scholarly tone, which I found very amusing.

I have perused some of the reviews on Goodreads, and many people criticized "City" for painting an unrealistic picture of the future (especially on account of the unrealistic premise that humans could engineer dogs so that they might read and talk).

It irritates me when people judge science fiction based upon whether or not the author was able to predict the future. Also, it irritates me when people expect science fiction to be strictly "scientific."

For me, the point of science fiction is to explore what it means to be human. That exploration is accomplished by imagining a world that is quite different from the one we live in, or contains sentient beings with a non-human perspective. It shouldn't matter whether the author's world is completely believable or not. What should matter is whether or not the author uses that world and its beings to shed light on the human condition.

By putting humans in an other-worldly context, the writer is able to speculate about how humans would adapt or fail to adapt to that other world. The writer is thus able to expose aspects humanity that might not otherwise come to light, or advance a thesis on the nature of humanity.

In a way, I found "City" to be absurd. But by this I don't mean inferior. I mean absurd in the way Kafka's stories are absurd. And this is really how "City" should be read. Not as an attempt to predict the future, but more as an attempt to explore what it means to be human in a playful, non-serious,imaginative, and absurdist way. There is much beauty in Simak's writing, too. Despite his science fiction themes, he lovingly lingers on detailed, pastoral descriptions.

Whether or not you love this book, you won't ever read another one quite like it!
Profile Image for Christy.
Author 5 books399 followers
July 1, 2016
I'd read one of the stories in this book before, "Desertion," and loved it. I still think I love that story best, but the whole book is definitely worth reading. In fact, this is one book that I would love to teach, for several reasons.

1. It's a fun read, with some interesting conceits (a future Doggish society [made up of a race of intelligent speaking dogs], space travel, a society of ants, etc.)
2. It demands close reading skills, not just in the stories themselves but in the Doggish commentary on those stories, which reveal a great deal about the future Doggish culture as well as providing some incisive critiques of humanity.
3. It raises several really fascinating questions: What counts as intelligence? What is the ultimate value and worth of humanity? How is humanity defined? Is progress worth more than happiness, or is progress necessary for happiness? Is violence inherent within humanity? How intelligent are animals? What would happen if animals had humanly recognizable intelligence and society? What are the possibilities of a "Brotherhood of Beasts," a recognition of connection and commonality across species lines? And is a truly nonviolent world possible? Is it really "better that one should lose a world than go back to killing" (252)?

Simak himself says that this book was "written out of disillusion" (1) after World War II. He says, "City was written not as a protest (for what good would protest do?) but as a seeking after a fantasy world that would serve as a counterbalance to the brutality through which the world was passing" (2). He goes on to recognize that he "peopled the fantasy world with dogs and robots because [he] could see little hope of mankind arriving at such a world" (2). I'm not sure I agree with the cynicism of this statement or with City's insistence that violence is an unavoidable part of human nature, but I do agree that the humankind of the 20th century deserves to be indicted for its behavior. Simak argues in his introduction to the book (from which I have been quoting) that humanity is beyond saving and, further developing this argument, creates in this book a world in which humankind disappears, leaving a more peaceful, kind, and empathic world of Dogs and Robots; I would argue, on the other hand, that Simak's creation of this world shows the possibilities of nonviolence, even for humans, because it shows through this contrast what changes would need to be made to have this kind of world. The Doggish commentator on the stories asks, "If Man had taken a different path, might he not, in time to come, have been as great as Dog?" (146). Despite the violence of the 20th century (and the opening of the 21st) and despite Simak's loss of faith in humanity, I believe there is still a chance for us to take a different path. And the kind of criticism of humanity levied by Simak is an important part of the process involved in finding that path.
Profile Image for RJ - Slayer of Trolls.
807 reviews190 followers
July 30, 2022
Simak's Retro-Hugo winner is a fixup of eight stories with common characters which examine the fate of mankind, forecasting urban decay into scenarios involving rural life, space travel, transmogrification into alien lifeforms, domed cities, suspended animation, and interdimensional travel. Characters, even robots and dogs, have a high degree of introspection and contemplation; much of the story involves internal narratives and ruminations. Like many science-fiction works from the post-Golden Age transitional period, the details of the stories are dated in many respects, but the larger ideas will still generate interest and incite debate.
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,015 followers
August 27, 2012
I really wouldn't attempt to read City as speculative fiction, despite the opening stories and the fact that there's space travel and alternate dimensions. After I saw the reactions of group members to it, I thought I wasn't going to get on with it at all -- totally unscientific, only one or two female characters even mentioned, etc.

But then I started reading and the scholarly notes really tickled me. I've read them before, in a sense, in every book that attempts to piece together whether King Arthur (or any other mythical/legendary figure) really existed. I managed to read it then as a myth, as a cleverly constructed series of stories creating a myth-that-might-have-been. Almost a fable (which came to me when the notes made a reference to Aesop). It's a fable of what could happen if we took men out of the equation, and links up with The Book of Merlyn which I reread only last night -- is there something inherent in men that makes us act the way we do?

(It and T.H. White's Arthurian stories weren't written that far apart in time. Is it too late for me to write a dissertation on the preoccupations of those decades and take City and The Once and Future King as my primary texts? I'm sure there are others. It's probably been done, though. Striking that they both used ants and dogs, though probably coincidence -- we have very firm ideas of what ants and dogs are like, what they do, and I think they both used a common image.)

Anyway, it's not a gripping story with a narrative that pushes you forward. I read it with more a gentle curiosity, and it responds well to that.
Profile Image for Nikola Jankovic.
559 reviews111 followers
January 24, 2020
Znam da je ovo klasik SF, ali izgleda da imam problem sa tim klasicima od 50+ godina. Najčešće:
1) je autor potpuno promašio u svojoj najavi budućnosti,
2) nema interesantnih ideja ili
3) prosečno je napisana.

Ako je samo jedno od ta tri, Asimovljeva Zadužbina, na primer (samo tačka 3), onda može da prođe. Dugo sam se plašio da je pročitam drugi put, da ne pokvarim iskustvo iz mladosti. Osmelio sam se prošle godine, jeste malo (čuj, malo) bleda u načinu pripovedanja, ali donosi sjajne ideje.

Grad ima problem sa 1 i 3. Sredinom dvadesetog veka autor je sahranio gradove - urbanizacija više ne postoji, ljudi počinju ih do devedesetih godina napuste zbog uspona ličnih aviona. Osam priča, koje su međusobno povezane i sastavljaju veliki narativ o kraju čovečanstva i razvoju civilizacije pasa, dosta su različitog kvaliteta. Uvod je solidan, a najbolje su dve priče o Jupiteru i odluci čovečanstva da se "ugasi". Kroz ostalih pet sam se probijao.
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