- Arthur C. Clarke (author)
- Victor Gollancz Ltd
- Publisher series:
- SF Masterworks
- Publication year:
- Original publication year:
The story takes place on Earth several billion years in the future. It revolves around the huge city of Diaspar, which has cloistered itself under an artificial roof. No one can leave the city, and no one even wants to. People are no longer born naturally, but emerge from the Hall of Creation. They live for centuries, and when they decide it's time to "die" they simply choose which memories they wish to keep, and are then stored in the Memory Banks, to return centuries later from the Hall of Creation. These Memory Banks also house the patterns for everything in the city (buildings, furniture, what have you) so that when one wishes something (a chair, for instance), one simply asks for it and it will materialize. As a by-product, nothing ever wears down; the city (and its inhabitants) are practically immortal.
Into this mix emerges Alvin, a Unique (meaning it's his first life). These aren't unheard of, but they're very rare. The story is really about Alvin and his adventures to unravel the secrets of the city's (and Earth's) mysterious and myth-laden past.
I thorougly enjoyed it. If I have one complaint it's that I wish we learned more about the Invaders, but this doesn't detract from the story (for reasons which I won't go into due to the spoiler potential).