We have a flag in front of our house. We put it up when we moved in, 17 years ago. The wind whips the flag around, but time has made us shorter than we used to be and I can’t reach up and unfurl the flag. My son has to do it … and he does. Every time he is here, he opens up the flag which stays that way until the next breeze catches it,
City is a 1952 science fiction novel by Clifford D. Simak. The book is episodic with eight or nine (depending on which version you read) short stories that have “bridges” between episodes. Version of the book after 1980 includes the ninth tale, “Epilogue.”
The novel contains eight stories which are the mythology of the Dogs. Each tale is preceded by doggish notes and learned discussion. An editor’s “preface” notes after each telling of these legends, suggest that puppies will ask many questions, for example:
“What is Man?” they’ll ask.
Or perhaps: “What is a city?”
Or maybe:”What is a war?
There is no positive answer to any of these questions.”
In the world where these stories are legends, there are no humans, no cities, and no war.
Generally, I find old science fiction awkward and occasionally dull. In City, the technology and science is dated, but the concepts are as innovative and unique as they were when I first read the book in the 1960s.
This “remembered human world” questions whether or not humankind will continue as a species, but not for the usual reason. Quite the opposite.
In these stories, earth was repaired in every way you can imagine. There is enough of everything — food, money, housing. Roads are useless because everyone flies. Cities are empty. Everyone lives in the country. Crime disappears and mutants have strange powers, especially telepathy.
The stories focus around one wealthy family named Webster and their robot Jenkins, . Over time, the name Webster becomes the noun “webster,” meaning “human.” Each story builds on a previous one. All discuss the breakdown of the urban world. The breakdown isn’t a bad thing because human life is enormously better.
And then, there’s Jupiter.
Doug Webster hates the new world. He’s an agoraphobic. Although the word “agoraphobic” is never used, Webster (all his family members share the same issue) becomes ill if he is has to go out into the bigger world. At some point, Webster provides dogs with speech and improved vision. Meanwhile, the breakdown of civilization allows roaming mutant geniuses to make their own odd changes to earth. Joe, a wandering mutant, decides to see what would happen to ants if they remained active and free of hunger year round.
The ants form an industrial society and eventually take over “our” earth while humans go somewhere else — as do the dogs. A lot of stuff happens and there isn’t a lot of specific information provided. You will need your imagination.
Dogs see other worlds. They always have. Their worlds are “cobbly worlds.” In case you were wondering, cobbly worlds are why your dog barks at seemingly nothing. Dogs bark to warn the cobblies to stay away. Other worlds familiar to us, are invisible to Dogs.
Ultimately, humans abandon earth and dogs have nothing but mythical memories of humans. They are not even sure we ever existed. The stories in this book are their myths and legends. A few dogs believe humans existed, but most do not. I really enjoyed the book. I also enjoyed the audiobook. If science fiction is your thing, this book is worth your time.
And don’t forget about those cobbly worlds.
An old barn near Mendon …
When you leave a room, do you turn the lights off behind you or keep the lights on throughout your house most of the time?
Usually. Except when I forget. Ditto Garry. Except when he forgets. It’s the one thing we can’t blame on the dogs, but I’ve been known to try.
What do you feel is the most enjoyable way to spend $500?
Put it into our depleted “savings” account. It’s really not a savings account, exactly. More like our “last-ditch” money to deal with household catastrophes, damaged plumbing, clogged drains, broken stuff that needs replacement. Because no matter how you think you’ve finally fixed everything, something, somewhere is waiting to break.
There used to be more money, but stuff happened. Now, we live in hope of seeing it by some miracle, reinvigorated.
Complete this sentence: My favorite thing to do on my cell phone is…
Turn it off and leave it off until the next on-the-road or WiFi out emergency. I do not like cell phones.
What inspired you this past week? Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.
I finally got antibiotics for an infection I’ve been ignoring for a really long time. Progress, I think. Not much of an inspiration, but it’s the best I can do.
This has been a rough week for anyone who cares about this country.
Ap? Will ax or cl or ve come next? My world doesn’t included letter-coded photos. I’ll do my best, but I gotta tellya this isn’t working for me. I want to play, but I don’t sort this way. so finding photographs is more than a little bit limited.
Appliances in my kitchen. Alternatively, how about the jAPanese mAPle?