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Die Stadt und die Sterne (1953)

von Arthur C. Clarke

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2,619524,329 (3.94)1 / 94
This grand space adventure explores the fate of humanity a billion years in the future-- A visionary classic by one of science fiction's greatest minds.   Far in the future, Earth's oceans have evaporated and humanity has all but vanished. The inhabitants of Diaspar believe their domed city is all that remains of an empire that had once conquered the stars. Inside the dome, the citizens live in technological splendor, free from the distractions of aging and disease. Everything is controlled precisely, just as the city's designers had intended.   But a boy named Alvin, unlike his fellow humans, shows an insatiable--and dangerous--curiosity about the world outside the dome. His questions will send him on a quest to discover the truth about the city and humanity's history--as well as its future.   A masterful and awe-inspiring work of imagination, The City and the Stars is considered one of Arthur C. Clarke's finest novels.… (mehr)
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September 21, 2015
I'm having a rough time finding a good read (listen), with this, my second failed book in the same day. Unlike my problems with trying to get through the prose of [b:Heart of Darkness|4900|Heart of Darkness|Joseph Conrad|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1392799983s/4900.jpg|2877220], this one failed for me entirely with the audiobook production. There's no obvious indication in the Audible write-up that this is a big-cast (seriously, like 12 actors named) dramatization, complete with background score and sound effects. I hate dramatizations, especially with multiple narrators, and so I gave up on this after just one listening session. Unfortunately, it's the only version offered on Audible, so I'll pick this one up again when I'm past my Whispersynce infatuation.
  KrakenTamer | Oct 23, 2021 |
Clarke wrote (or rewrote) “The City and the Stars” in 1955 and it was published in 1956. Interestingly, it’s a complete rewrite of his first novel, “Against the Fall of Night” which was rejected by John W. Campbell, Jr., editor of Astounding Science-Fiction. I have mixed feelings about this book, but overall, it was a wonderful read.

Let’s start with the positives. When I said it’s a wonderful read, I mean that literally, it’s full of wonder. The hallmark of the Golden Age of science fiction is the focus on the prediction of an imaginative future and that’s what make this book an important work of that age. The book begins with some sort of fully immersive video game. When the game ends, we find we are in a city a billion years in the future. The city is fully automated, matter can be materialized by thoughts. Humans are no longer born but are resurrected over and over again. People want of nothing and spend their time creating art, socializing, and exploring philosophy and scientific problems that will likely never be solved.

I think Clarke may have riffed on Huxley’s “Brave New World,” although the themes are quite different. What Clarke does well in this story is in creating questions in the reader. Yes, there is a continuous onslaught of future ideas and creations, but what really drives the story is the questions. Why is our main character, Alvin, the first to be born in over a million years? What’s beyond the city walls? Why did mankind abandon the star? What’s the purpose of this never-ending city named Diaspar? The combination of wonder and the intrigue that Clarke creates is masterful. I say this because the book has some significant shortfalls.

To begin with, the conflict is tame in this story. I never really felt concern for the characters. Alvin does embark on an interesting quest, but he is arrogant and often protected in his journey. In fact, I didn’t really like him for much of the story. I suppose part of Alvin’s issues were in place to show growth in the character, but in the end his brashness is rewarded, and he never really pays a price for his flaws. The biggest issue I had with the book, is that the ending is an ancient story. We don’t get to experience the climax. It’s relayed to us as historical record which held no excitement or emotional appeal for me. Based on these items, you think it’s a disappointing book, but back to my earlier point, there is so much wonder and intrigue that I found it an excellent read. In my opinion, it’s not Clarke’s best, but it’s an intriguing tale, especially considering it being a rewrite of his debut.

An inventive story of a city one billion years in the future, and one man’s quest to understand the past and future of humanity. ( )
  Kevin_A_Kuhn | Aug 23, 2021 |
I enjoyed the story a great deal, and found it refreshing that this story from the 1950's saw that both genders would be viewed as equal one day... though this seemed to be more of a concept that an actuality in this story.

A lot of the concepts were far fetched and scientifically impossible so far as current science would advise us, and from the brief research that I did (thanks google!) would have already been considered I'm possible by the time it was written. I won't go into detail as it would inevitably lead to spoilers, but take all the 'science' in the book with a pinch of salt and whimsy. It is, after all, science fiction, so it might as well make the most of the fiction part. ( )
  TCLinrow | Mar 17, 2021 |
I enjoyed the story a great deal, and found it refreshing that this story from the 1950's saw that both genders would be viewed as equal one day... though this seemed to be more of a concept that an actuality in this story.

A lot of the concepts were far fetched and scientifically impossible so far as current science would advise us, and from the brief research that I did (thanks google!) would have already been considered I'm possible by the time it was written. I won't go into detail as it would inevitably lead to spoilers, but take all the 'science' in the book with a pinch of salt and whimsy. It is, after all, science fiction, so it might as well make the most of the fiction part. ( )
  TCLinrow | Mar 17, 2021 |
This is my second Clarke and it's way better than my first encounter with the man's work, which was [b:The Space Trilogy|140195|The Space Trilogy|Arthur C. Clarke|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1348746938s/140195.jpg|135148]. Yes, I probably started with the wrong book, as my review indicates: see here. But hey, it was cheap and the stories weren't that long, so...

Anyway, [b:The City and the Stars|250024|The City and the Stars|Arthur C. Clarke|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1340242824s/250024.jpg|925052] (but the green-yellow cover of the reissue) was bought at the same time, though the reading was postponed, because of my bad experience with the other book. Unjustly, but it is what it is.

In this story, there are two cities: Lys and Diaspar. Diaspar is covered by a dome and is technologically far more advanced than Lys, where mankind is still mankind. Natural births, telepathy (or communication via their minds, not as much in a spoken fashion), different kinds of people, etc. (Lys) vs no new births (but a sort of reincarnation, a reboot, if you will), oral communication, everyone with a perfect skin and look (no ugly people, so to speak) (Diaspar). And so on. There are more differences.

Both cities don't know, or don't want to know (as later turns out), of each other's existence. Both consider the other inferior. Diaspar is controlled by a Central Computer, a Council governs the city, but relies on this Computer, on its memory banks, ... The city must not change, everything must remain according to the saved image in the Computer, even though the Computer has saved various images since the creation of the city. Like you would save an image of your hard-disk, so you don't have to re-install your software (operating system and more) from scratch.

In Diaspar, you don't need to be able to cook or construct something. By a simple click of your fingers, you can conjure furniture, decorations, any food you'd like to eat (if the memory banks have information about it, of course, like recipes and how cooks used to prepare the food and meals back when Diaspar was not as advanced or not isolated under a dome), and so on.

There is a new kid in town, however, named Alvin (a Unique, one who hasn't yet undergone rebirth), who wonders if there's a world outside of Diaspar and if (and how) it can be reached. Is there an exit (and entrance)? He decides to investigate, but somehow needs the help of one jester, Khedron. And yes, or what did you think?, there is life outside of Diaspar: Lys. There's even a direct, underground transport system, linea recta, which goes back and forth. Or at least, went, as there's a whole history attached to it.

At some point in the future, Man was so advanced that it had moved into space to create an empire. But it is said that alien invaders pushed mankind back onto Earth. Man was so devastated by this event, by this defeat that its survivors decided to invest in progress on a smaller scale, hence the domed city and an underground transport-system (to protect themselves from those invaders). Until at some point, there was no need any more to use it, because Diaspar was perfect on its own. A closed circle of life, relying heavily on technology and computers.

Alvin discovers, with the help of Khedron, the transport-system, and even can travel with it. It still functions. That's when he arrives at Lys, in one of its villages, and establishes contact under false pretences (more or less). But when he wants to go back, they will have to erase his memories, because of the aforementioned trouble between Lys and Diaspar. Together with Hilvar, son of Seranis, who is the leader of the village, he explores the country and finds out more than expected. He has a plan to tell Diaspar of what's outside, but has to trick Seranis and the others to be able to flee without his memories erased. As I mentioned, the people of Lys have strong mental powers, can read one's mind easily (when permitted), communicate in a mental way (over small and large distances).

Alvin also tricks Diaspar upon one of his few returns. In the end, both cities have no choice but to come together and re-establish contact and communication; be one people again. Also because Alvin and Hilvar have traveled into space, towards the worlds of the invaders of old (especially after having found a robot from that world, who had strict orders to not give away any crucial information about the Great Ones). One thing leads to another and thanks to the Central Computer, Alvin can use the robot for his own means, the robot follows his instructions. Alvin needs him, as he was the "driver" of the spaceship that was hidden in the desert between Diaspar and Lys, and knows the way to its home planet and the zone of the Seven Suns, an artificial construction in space.


Clarke described mainly events, actions, gave background information on the worlds, their behaviour, their beliefs and so on. The characters weren't all that well developed, I find. Was this characteristic for the period in which the book was written? Was it a deliberate decision? Yes, it's science-fiction (with a slab of fantasy), and characters aren't always the most important element in the writing story.

What bothered me a lot, was that Hilvar and Alvin didn't seem to need to prepare for their journeys. Food? Clothing? Nature calls? (ok, a little too much unnecessary detail here, perhaps) None of that. Any other human being would have had a migraine, fainted because of malnourishment, fallen sick, ... As long as the story advances, who cares, right? Plus, some actions could happen a bit too smoothly, if you ask me. Or was that inherent to that kind of "perfect" civilisation?

All in all, a very good story about the influence of religion, of how arrogance and so-called supremacy (no critical thinking here) - or power and (false) ambition - don't really help a civilisation move forward; it creates division and narrow-mindedness. Leaving it all in the hands of a central computer also isn't the answer, you're tying yourself, you're putting shackles on your arms and legs.

A recommended read, one way or another, despite the flaws. ( )
  TechThing | Jan 22, 2021 |
Het onderwerp van deze roman is de menselijke beschaving na een miljard jaar. Deze is dan geconcentreerd in een stad, Diaspar, waar de inwoners leven in een nimmer eindigende illusie, en in een Arcadische samenleving, Lyz, waar de mensen langs telepatische weg met elkander communiceren. Beide beschavingen zijn de eindfase van een periode, waarin de mens de sterrenwerelden verkende maar uit dit universum werd verdreven door de Indringers. In Diaspar wordt een unieke mens geboren, die de stad verlaat, de illusie doorziet en erin slaagt beide beschavingen met elkaar in contact te brengen. Dit belooft het begin te worden van een nieuwe opbloei van de menselijke samenleving. De roman is erg boeiend. Een enkele maal is de vertaling niet korrekt.
hinzugefügt von karnoefel | bearbeitenNBD/Biblion (via BOL.com)
 

» Andere Autoren hinzufügen (20 möglich)

AutorennameRolleArt des AutorsWerk?Status
Clarke, Arthur C.Hauptautoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
Giancola, DonatoUmschlagillustrationCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Hartmann, ErichBack Cover PhotographerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Moore, ChrisUmschlagillustrationCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Powers, Richard M.UmschlagillustrationCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Salter, GeorgeUmschlaggestalterCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
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Like a glowing jewel, the city lay upon the breast of the desert.
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The first version of this work appeared in the November 1948 issue of Startling Stories, and was later published in book form as Against the Fall of Night 

It was later rewritten and issued under the title The City and the Stars.  
Gregory Benford later wrote a sequel to Against the Fall of Night with Clarke's approval: Beyond the Fall of Night, but it does not correlate with The City and the Stars.

Please do not combine different versions.
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This grand space adventure explores the fate of humanity a billion years in the future-- A visionary classic by one of science fiction's greatest minds.   Far in the future, Earth's oceans have evaporated and humanity has all but vanished. The inhabitants of Diaspar believe their domed city is all that remains of an empire that had once conquered the stars. Inside the dome, the citizens live in technological splendor, free from the distractions of aging and disease. Everything is controlled precisely, just as the city's designers had intended.   But a boy named Alvin, unlike his fellow humans, shows an insatiable--and dangerous--curiosity about the world outside the dome. His questions will send him on a quest to discover the truth about the city and humanity's history--as well as its future.   A masterful and awe-inspiring work of imagination, The City and the Stars is considered one of Arthur C. Clarke's finest novels.

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