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City

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  12,517 ratings  ·  776 reviews
Jenkins was a robot. He was built to be the perfect worker, tireless and uncomplaining, but quite unexpectedly he also became a close companion to generation after generation of his owners as the human race matured, moved beyond the confines of its one tiny planet, and eventually changed beyond all recognition. And then, because he was a good and dutiful servant, Jenkins ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 267 pages
Published 1981 by Ace Science Fition (first published 1952)
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 ·  12,517 ratings  ·  776 reviews


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Bill Kerwin

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
...more
mark monday
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
...more
Apatt
Aug 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pre-80s-sf, favorites
“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
...more
Ivan
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
So far the strongest candidate for the best book I read this year.
Althea Ann
'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.
...more
Sarah
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 ...more
Bradley
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Stephen
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 ...more
Maryam
For me there is always a rich taste in classic Sci Fi which I can’t find in recent stories. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy modern sci-fi books as much but there is always a nostalgic feeling in reading classic Sci Fis. City is no exception. Eight different but related stories told in a future time which there is no sign of man on earth. As stories proceed we see how earth become what it is then.
Dogs has inherited the earth and they have these stories as historical documents and there theories to
...more
Stuart
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
...more
Lena
844BA15F-B6D3-41C3-AF77-65EA3AC8DE49.jpg
“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
...more
Dan
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Jamie
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Donna
Aug 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Marvin
May 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: science fiction fans and dog lovers
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 ...more
Nikki
Aug 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Williwaw
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
...more
Christy
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
...more
Rachel (Kalanadi)
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.
J.M. Hushour
Dec 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Man gave up trying. Man enjoyed himself. Human achievement became a zero factor and human life a senseless paradise."

Another excellent, mid-century sci-fi novel noteworthy for its sheer alienness. I was reminded of Clement's Mission of Gravity that I read recently. This is very different from Simak's other book I also read recently, Way Station. The latter was downhome, unsettling first contact weirdness, in a way, whereas this one is far more alien, far-reaching, and even eerie sometimes.
Like
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Hákon Gunnarsson
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
...more
Simon
Jun 24, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, sf-masterworks
I have to say that this was quite a disappointment for me and not what I was expecting after reading the excellent Way Station.

"City" is basically a chronicle of mankind's demise, usually involving characters who are decendents of the Webster family who invariably end up involved in pivotal events in our future history. No single event or catastrophy here, rather it is a gradual decline. And the reasons are more social, cultural and psycological than anything else.

This is actually a collection
...more
Samuel
Nov 08, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Biologically, this book is absurd: quasi-robotic intelligent dogs, hyper-evolved progressive rural humans with an intelligence seemingly gained from nothing whatsoever, a race of ants experiencing socio-economic and industrial revolutions, evolution stemming from surgery; to name but a few. Philosophically, it's broken and contradictory to the point of frustration; economically null, politically ridiculous and simply completely ignorant of the science in science-fiction. That this collection of ...more
Chris
May 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clifford Simak's fame has waned in the years after his death, and he never was one of the more well-known or popular SF authors to begin with. He broke onto the SF scene in 1944 with a series of semi-linked short stories and novellas, a future-history that took humanity out of its near-future cites, into star-studded galaxies, even beyond mere homo sapiens. He continued writing them through 1947, then published one final tale in 1951, at which point they were joined together and sold as the ...more
Mark
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clifford/Cliff Simak is an author I first came to when I was a teenager in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. At first I wasn’t sure – it wasn’t spaceships and action, but instead a much more subtler and gentle SF. (Mark Charan Newton has since referred to it as ‘rural SF’, which sorta works.) Instead of Star Wars whizz-bang action, we have pastoral introspection, Waltons-style homily and self-depreciating humour.

And in City in particular we have robots, ants and dogs.

To my younger self, City
...more
Monica
This book was a strange one. A odd concoction of philosophy and futility. Essentially, Simak was disillusioned with mankind after the destruction with the atomic bomb in Japan. He comes to what I find a very strange conclusion that city living is the cause of the bulk of human antisocial and violent behavior. He advocates much smaller communities and talks of how the invention of the telephone negates the need to live close to where one works. I got the impression that he was a bit of a recluse. ...more
Denis
Mar 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: softcover
This is a classic of the 'Golden Age' fix-up novel - A.E. van Vogt was not the only author to capitalize on repackage a series of earlier short stories into novel form. Asimov's "I Robot" is another fine example, for instance.

The complete "City" consists of:
· City · nv Astounding May 1944
· Huddling Place · ss Astounding Jul 1944
· Census · nv Astounding Sep 1944
· Desertion · ss Astounding Nov 1944
· Paradise · ss Astounding Jun 1946
· Hobbies · nv Astounding Nov 1946
· Aesop · nv Astounding Dec
...more
Karl
Mar 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Old Earth produces some fine books. This is a good example of a book that should be read by all fans of Science Fiction.
Lesley
Feb 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Several months ago, I visited the science fiction museum up in Seattle. It wasn't that impressive to me, like someone's small private collection stretched out to cover a bunch of exhibits. Forrey's house had been more impressive than this place. But I'd had some interest in post-apocalyptic stuff lately, so I paused at the exhibit, and I noticed some books I hadn't read before featured as classics in the genre. Among them were Alas, Babylon and City by Clifford Simak.

I found Alas, Babylon pretty
...more
Pam Baddeley
I liked certain aspects of this book, principally the connecting parts where it is clear that the book is a collection of tales published by the dog civilisation which have been handed down and which fuel an ongoing debate as to whether the legendary creature called man ever existed. The tales themselves illustrate particular stages in which humans at first abandon the cities - the original short stories were published in science fiction magazines mostly between 1944 and 1947 with a later one in ...more
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"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...
“Once there had been joy, but now there was only sadness, and it was not, he knew, alone the sadness of an empty house; it was the sadness of all else, the sadness of the Earth, the sadness of the failures and the empty triumphs.” 27 likes
“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.”
18 likes
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