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The story itself didn't change, but I did eliminate the four Parts, and simply numbered the chapters consecutively. My original conception of the book's layout now struck me as a little too fancy. I mentioned to Amazon that it was a major revision and customers needed their copies updated. Long story short, Amazon didn't update and I failed to follow through. Flash forward to the present. It's still getting reviews based on the original edition, so I decided that an update was imperative. This time I followed through with Amazon to get it fixed, and the update is available to all who bought the book. Unfortunately, the email Amazon sent out stated that the reason for the update is missing content. Nothing was missing. This is a revision.
Anyone who bought the book in the last two years probably won't need the update. Just take a quick check at the front of the book, and If you have a prologue, you need the update. On the other hand, if you like prologues, read it first, then update. Just the prologue; go ahead and update before you read the whole book. As I said the story line didn't change that much. Thanks to all who purchased the book, and enjoy the revision!
From the time I was a teenager and all the way through young adulthood Arthur C. Clarke was my favorite writer. I would read anything of his I could find, including non-fiction, because I found it to be highly entertaining and enjoyable. Like many books of his, I thought I had already read this one. As far as I can now determine, I hadn't. Or maybe it was so long ago that I don't remember it.
The book came out in 1956, when I was about 10 years old, and before I was a Clarke fan. The copy I have came from the library, and it appears to be one of the 1956 originals; the bottom edge of the spine is worn from sliding across many shelves, and the top of the spine is frayed from many fingers reaching into it to pull the book out. It has a forward by Clarke explaining why he rewrote "Against the Fall of Night" and renamed it "The City and the Stars." He also explains that much of this story was presented in that earlier work.
I found the first half of the book somewhat boring as Clarke goes through his world building and character introductions, and I got the impression that this was the part that came from the earlier work. As I moved into the second half of the story, the writing style and pace seemed to improve, and although I found none of it believable, I enjoyed the sense of wonder and of the vastness of time and space. Clarke was the creator of Big Ideas, and his readers came to expect that.
As with most Science Fiction of that time, characterization is on the shallow side, and you never feel as if you are a part of the scene instead of just watching it. Some readers will see this as a fault of the writer, but Clarke knew his audience of mostly young men, and knew how to write for them. I confess that at the time, I never noticed the shallowness of his characters, and would probably have seen detailed characterization as getting in the way of the story. I liked the Big Idea, and wanted to get right into it.
My tastes in fiction have greatly changed. If I had never heard of Clarke, and read this today as the only example I had seen of his work, I would probably not read anything else of his. However, he wrote for his audience of the time, and I and a lot of other readers derived much enjoyment from reading his work. True to form, this story takes you from a city on Earth in the far future, back into the past, and into the far reaches of space, exploring all the way, introducing you to robots, spaceships, and unknown worlds. In the end, I found that I still enjoyed his exploration of the Big Idea. I rate it at 4 out of 5 stars, and recommend it to any young reader who wants to explore a classic.
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