City and the Stars (Sf Masterworks 39)

The City and the Stars - Arthur C. Clarke This was my Second book by Arthur C Clarke. The first being is magnus opus 2001 Space Odyssey.

This book was a kind of different from what I am used to read but I really want to learn more about the first steps given in SFF and Fantasy. Having almost every book in both Sci-fi and Fantasy Masterwork's collection by Gollancz this was a good start.

There are many topics on this book.
-IA (The all of Diaspar is controlled by thinking machines)
-Immortality (All inhabitants live for a thousand years and then transfer their mind to a great machine that gives them a new body after several hundred thousand years
-Virtual Reality (Basicly the everyday of the inhabitants of Diaspar that don't do anything besides that).
-Socialogy (How a human would react of being immortal and how would that affect society)
-Clash between two Societies (Diaspar, technology advanced with immortal humans and the other hand Lys where all citizens are telepaths and don't relie on technology to survive.

The book started fast and I was really hooked then it stopped and so I stopped reading for a couple of weeks and started again and painfully try to finish it. The end was another interesting part.

Alvin the Unique, our main character is a different human from it's kind living on the immortal city of Diaspar. There he tries to find out what happenning outside the closed walls of his city. With the help of Khedron the Jester whose duty it is in Diaspar to introduce calculated amounts of disorder from time to time and consequently has access to unusual places, he leaves Diaspar and travels to Lys where he finds a human settlement where he befriends some of them. There he finds a being that protects a machine that will lead Alvin throughout the space to unravel the history of mankind.

This book has one particular interesting situation where when Alvin returns to Diaspar with the news that there is life outside the city some people run and commit suicide (they run to Hall of Creation where their current life will end and they will start again in a couple hundred centuries with the memories they want). This book deals with progression vs conservatism. Of a new way of living (don't forget that this book was written in the 50's where science was getting his big steps).

My personal feelings is that this book has a nice story of Science Fiction with a good background but with poor character development besides Alvin.

Some interesting quotes:

"It never occured to Alvin that Alystra was beautiful, for he had never seen human ugliness. When beauty is universal, it loses its power to move the heart, and only its absence can produce any emotional effect". (pag 32)"

"Interesting little setting created by one of the masters of Sci-Fi. A world where human beings are being "born"/"created" in a perfect city. There they live a thousand years and then download their memories, editing them at their will, and after a some millenia are reborn again with those memories. A world where humans live their lives in a matrix/virtual world experiencing new things all day."

Would I advice it to you?
If you want to read a good science fiction book yes. This is one of those writers/books you know start the revolution of Science fiction.