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Book 12

  1. Matheson, Richard — I Am Legend (161 pages)
  2. McCarthy, Cormac — No Country for Old Men (307 pages)
  3. Dexter, Gary — Why Not Catch 21?: The Stories Behind the Titles (213 pages)
  4. Ryman, Geoff — 253 (366 pages)
  5. Wyndham, John — The Day of the Triffids (267 pages)
  6. Kurkov, Andrey — Death and the Penguin (228 pages)
  7. Chesterton, G.K. — Orthodoxy (183 pages)
  8. Gibbs, Christopher H., ed. — The Cambridge Companion to Schubert (334 pages)
  9. Sendak, Maurice — Where the Wild Things Are (48 pages — though only 1 page will count towards my tally)
  10. Hurston, Zora Neale — Their Eyes Were Watching God (215 pages)
  11. Clarke, Arthur C. — Rendezvous With Rama (245 pages)
  12. Clarke, Arthur C. — The City and the Stars (246 pages)

Page count: 2766.

After making certain observations about Clarke's writing in my previous review, he goes and proves me wrong! Well, sort of. I still feel my opinions are valid about stories whose plot and other elements are framed too strictly by the technologies and science available. However, in The City and the Stars Clarke takes his writing to another level, transcending the aforementioned limitations and creating a story with depth, layering, and character development.

Part of the reason, I suspect, is that the story is set so far in the future that technology ceases to be a novelty. The setting is the appropriately named city of Diaspar, a billion or so years into the future, which has existed for millions of years after Earth's galactic empire has crumbled and in which a last-remaining pocket of humanity has taken refuge. Technology is so far advanced that any effort to describe it or make it the centerpiece of the story would be futile; it is simply an accepted part of normal life, allowing people to go about their lives as normally as they can. Until, that is, our protagonist comes along and throws a metaphorically spanner (wrench, for you Statesiders) in the works.

Freed from technology's constraints, the novel is allowed to explore themes as various as philosophy, religion, evolution, psychology, the arts, and more. More importantly, the story becomes about "ordinary" people and how they deal with and grow as a result of the numerous challenges they encounter. This is, ultimately, far more satisfying than an exciting, technology-driven page turner.

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