Book Review: The City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke

A tale of an abnormal, a jester, and a far in the future city, Diaspar, build out of fear. The premise and simplistic hero’s journey story sounded promising. Even more, when Arthur C. Clarke played with the idea of that dying has stopped and people live again and again for art and beauty, but in exclusion. The world beyond Diaspar is strange, unknown, and feared. Everyone in Diaspar is happy to live their predictable lives in seclusion, but now and then the city, its machines, births someone abnormal who finds the outside world fascinating and breaks the conventions of normality, Alvin. This is where the story starts.

I loved the way Arthur C. Clarke wrote how every city needs a jester to make it functional. Someone to disturb the normality and cause change. I agree with him. We need rebels to see outside the box and break the boundaries to invent new things, ideas, and provoke thought. And to take this into account in the city’s design is a fantastic idea as if you think our own world and societies rebels/jesters are seen distributive and shun.

But I’m not sure if I cared about the book beyond the intellectual concept of immortality and build cities and jesters. I’m not sure if I was the target audience. If I had read this when I was ten to sixteen years old, I would have fallen in love with the story and the central character, Alvin, but now I was left wanting more than easy plot twists. Not that the characters or the story weren’t good. It was the fact that they stayed on a superficial level. That said, this would have been an exciting and inspirational story for my past self.

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