Transreal Fiction

Scotland’s sf & fantasy bookstore

Arthur C. Clarke

I still have my 1970 paperback edition of The City and the Stars on my shelves at home. When I bought the book I just knew it would be special – it had a wonderful cover that intrigued me every time I looked at it – and I wasn’t mistaken. I re-read it again fairly recently* and the sense of wonder was definitely still there!

Since that first encounter (although I may well have read some stories from the library without knowing they were his) I’ve read most of his major works – and some of his others – although I’ve not read much of his more recent output. And I’ll get around to Fountains of Paradise yet!

He was a huge figure in sf and a key figure in making it more ‘respectable’ with idea-driven books which appealed to more than the sf crowd, and, of course, the hip recognition he gained from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Along with Heinlein and Asimov, he was regarded as one of the ‘big three’ sf authors, and, while I’ve enjoyed work by all three of them, Clarke is the one I’ve enjoyed the most – and the only one I still own any books by!

And when I heard of his death last night I put on VDGG’s anthemic (Childlike Faith in) Childhood’s End and cranked it up…

City & the Stars 1970 cover

My copy from 1970, published by Corgi in the UK

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edit:

my comments from September 2006:

I’m currently re-reading The City and the Stars, which was one of my favourite books when I was discovering sf&f. I’m pretty sure I read it in 1970 – quite some time ago, now!

I checked the copyright date and realised it’s 50 years old this year! It still stands up well (so far; Alvin’s only just reached Lys) and the immersive multi-player adventures, the databases, the constant tracking of everybody (for no particular purpose; they just can, so the computers do), the personal e-mail addresses, the screen art, all combine to make it feel very prescient of Clarke, although the story is set in the extremely far future… Other ideas are still to be achieved; the peristaltic roads and paths, the instant furniture, etc. but, hey, it is science fiction!
Anyway, definitely recommended if you’ve not read it, and maybe worth a re-read if you have!
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March 19, 2008 - Posted by | Author News, Shop News & Chat

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