Clifford D. Simak
City Cover



Clifford Simak's City won the 1953 International Fantasy Award, which was awarded to a science fiction or fantasy book. This book is more the latter, despite its later inclusion in later collections such as the SF Masterworks, Easton Press Masterpieces of Science Fiction, and the Locus Best SF Novels of All-Time.

Yes, this book is science fiction, and contains references to space and dimensional travel. Despite one of the stories being set on Jupiter, these are only references. This book focuses more on human development over a very long scale. It was originally published as a series of short stories in Astounding Science Fiction magazine. These stories are collected with interspersed brief commentaries from scholars of a future dog civilization.

This far future civilization is fascinating for a number of reasons – the removal of violence, the collective of animals, and the complete loss of Man - even as an idea. The agents of much of this change are a mutant named Joe and the robots, and later one robot in particular – Jenkins.

Much of science fiction is judged on whether the author "got it right" – it will be thousands of years before we can weigh in on this tale. Where some reviewers have complained about whether dogs could become intelligent, I found the most absurd bit that the physical house of Webster would remain standing after thousands of years.

I liked this tale, but I didn't love it. I spent the better part of three weeks reading it with travel and interruptions – perhaps a re-read of this slim book would rate higher.