The City and the Stars

  • by Sir Arthur C. Clarke
  • Narrated by Geoffrey T. Williams
  • 8 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A journey of discovery that will shake the foundations of everything the people of Earth have ever believed...
Diaspar is Earth's last city - surrounded by deserts, on a world where the oceans have long since dried up. It is a domed, isolated, technological marvel run by the Central Computer. Diaspar has conquered death. People are called forth from the Hall of Creation; they live for 1,000 years and then are recalled, stored in the Central Computer's memory, to be born thousands of years later, over and over again, with memories of earlier lives intact.
No one has entered or left Diaspar since anyone can remember. Its people have an unreasoning dread of the unknown, of the world outside the city. And no child has been born for at least 10 million years.
Until Alvin. He is unique. He has no past lives, no past memories. He also has no fear of the outside world. In fact he has an overwhelming curiosity, a drive to explore, to see what lies beyond the sterile boundaries of the city.
When he finally escapes, he discovers a place he could hardly have imagined: a country called Lys. Its people are telepathic. They know life and death. In Lys, Alvin finds friendship and love. And he begins his fateful journey to the stars and back. On his return he brings with him something so strange, so alien and powerful, that it will change the world forever. But for better or worse, not even Alvin can guess.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A Classic

The Science Fiction Book Club pick this as one of there favorite books written in the 50's. When I read it years ago I loved it and so when it went on sale I bought it. I must mention here that this audio club has the greatest sales.

This is so much different then most of what Clarke writes. Fantasy readers would not recognize it as fantasy, but in comparison to most of Clarke's hard Sci-Fi this could be a fantasy. One reason for that is that it takes place billions of years in the future and unlike what most writers do, he does not knock man back into cave man days.

The main character is unique and does not fit into the society he lives in. He does not give into peer pressure and he stays unique. This will appeal to anyone who has ever felt different. Though some see this as a depressing novel, I feel that the spot light on unique people who are willing to challenge the system as very uplifting.

Isolationism and not wanting to leave our comfort zone is a big part of the book.

Parts of the book sound like something Robert Reed would write about today, the Grand View and great lengths of time involved.

This has several narrators and music, which I thought at first would lead to a great experience. I think that they would have done better with one talented narrator instead of several not so talented narrators and though the music did not detract, I do not felt it added anything.

Other really good AC books are: Rendezvous with Rama, 2001: Space Odyssey, 2010 Odyssey II, and any short story collections.
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- Jim "The Impatient"

An Old Favorite

What did you love best about The City and the Stars?

This was one of the first science fiction novels I'd ever read ever so many years back. For that reason it was the first Audible book I downloaded. It was and remains a favorite. Some have said it is not one of Clarke's best, but I tend to disagree. Perhaps that's just the memories bound up around the story, but there you go.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The City and the Stars?

I enjoyed the sense of discovery as Alvin explored his universe; first the outskirts of Diaspar, then Lys, then the stars. The sense of physical exploration and discovery of new landscapes is something I miss in more recent works.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

The performance was mildly uneven. The different voices were obviously recorded at different times, using different equipment, different EQ settings and different levels of compression. This created a slightly uneven flow to the dialog, something which could have been avoided by bringing the voice actors in to record at the same time.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No. I used it to pass the time on a long daily commute. It lasted better than a week and served its purpose well in keeping me entertained in traffic.

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- Dave F. Wilke

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-15-2009
  • Publisher: Geoffrey T. Williams