Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

A collection of interconnected stories exploring the intertwining of humans, robots, and animals in a future world.


"City" by Clifford D. Simak is a science fiction novel that delves into the themes of humanity, technology, and the nature of civilization. Published in 1952, this thought-provoking book explores the future of humanity and the impact of advanced technology on society. Simak's imaginative storytelling takes readers on a journey through different time periods, presenting a series of interconnected stories that paint a vivid picture of the evolution of humanity and its relationship with the environment.

Brief Synopsis

"City" is set in the distant future, where humanity has abandoned cities and settled in small rural communities. Each chapter tells a different story, spanning thousands of years and exploring different aspects of human existence. The setting of the book ranges from the present-day Earth to a far-future society where humans have evolved into a new form of life.

Main Characters

JenkinsA sentient robot who acts as a custodian of human history.
WebberA dog with enhanced intelligence and the ability to communicate with humans.
AlvinA young boy who discovers a hidden underground city that challenges his perception of reality.
EnochA robot who befriends Alvin and helps him navigate the underground city.

Summary of Different Story Points

Chapter 1: "City"

The first chapter introduces Jenkins, a robot with human-like consciousness who watches over the abandoned city of Madison, Wisconsin. Jenkins is the custodian of human history, preserving records and artifacts of the past. He reflects on the rise and fall of humanity, pondering the reasons why cities were abandoned.

Chapter 2: "Huddling Place"

In this chapter, Webber, a highly intelligent dog, communicates with humans through a special collar. He tells the story of a group of humans who discovered a way to transfer their consciousness into the bodies of dogs, seeking a simpler and more fulfilling existence.

Chapter 3: "Census"

Set in the far future, this chapter follows the journey of a group of robots who are conducting a census of all intelligent life forms in the universe. They encounter various alien species and grapple with the question of what it means to be human.

Chapter 4: "Desertion"

Humans have evolved into a new life form, capable of morphing their bodies to survive on different planets. Alvin, a human child, embarks on a dangerous journey to discover the truth about his species' transformation and the enigmatic aliens who triggered it.

Chapter 5: "Paradise"

In this chapter, humans have merged with machines to become a collective consciousness known as "City." They seek to explore and understand the universe, but face challenges in reconciling their individual identities with the collective.

Chapter 6: "Hobbies"

The final chapter examines the lives of ordinary people living in the rural communities outside the cities. It delves into the hobbies and passions that bring fulfillment and meaning to their lives, highlighting the importance of maintaining human connections and pursuing personal interests.

Main Events

  • Jenkins reflects on the rise and fall of human civilization.
  • Webber tells the story of humans transferring their consciousness into dogs.
  • Robots conduct a census of intelligent life forms in the universe.
  • Alvin discovers the truth about human evolution and encounters alien beings.
  • Humans merge with machines to become a collective consciousness.
  • Ordinary people find fulfillment in their hobbies and personal connections.

Themes and Insights

Nature of Humanity

"City" explores the essence of what it means to be human and how our nature may change and evolve over time. The book raises questions about the impact of technology on our identity and the potential for humans to transcend their physical forms.

Relationship with Technology

Simak examines the relationship between humanity and technology, showcasing both its potential benefits and dangers. He questions the balance between progress and the preservation of human values, urging readers to consider the ethical implications of advanced technology.

Fragility of Civilization

The novel highlights the transient nature of human civilization. Through the abandoned cities and the rise and fall of different forms of society, Simak reminds us of the impermanence of our creations and the importance of preserving our history and knowledge.

Reader's Takeaway

"City" is a thought-provoking exploration of humanity's future. Simak's storytelling skillfully weaves together interconnected stories that challenge our understanding of civilization, identity, and the impact of technology. The book invites readers to reflect on the nature of humanity and the choices we make as we shape our future.


"City" by Clifford D. Simak is a captivating science fiction novel that offers a unique perspective on the future of humanity. Through a series of interconnected stories, Simak explores themes of humanity, technology, and the fragility of civilization. This thought-provoking book encourages readers to contemplate the nature of humanity and the choices we make as we navigate the complexities of our ever-changing world.

City FAQ

  1. Who is the author of the book 'City'?

    The author of the book 'City' is Clifford D. Simak.

  2. What is the genre of the book 'City'?

    The book 'City' is a science fiction novel.

  3. When was the book 'City' first published?

    The book 'City' was first published in 1952.

  4. What is the main theme of the book 'City'?

    The main theme of the book 'City' is the exploration of humanity's future and the impact of technology on society.

  5. What is the setting of the book 'City'?

    The setting of the book 'City' is a future Earth where humans have become a minority and various intelligent alien species coexist.

  6. Are there multiple storylines in the book 'City'?

    Yes, the book 'City' consists of multiple interconnected stories that explore different aspects of the future world.

  7. Is 'City' a standalone novel or part of a series?

    'City' is a standalone novel and is not part of a series.

  8. What are some other notable works by Clifford D. Simak?

    Some other notable works by Clifford D. Simak include 'Way Station', 'Time and Again', and 'The Big Front Yard'.

  9. Is the book 'City' suitable for young readers?

    The book 'City' is generally recommended for mature readers due to its complex themes and concepts.

  10. Does the book 'City' have a happy ending?

    The ending of the book 'City' can be interpreted in different ways and may not be considered conventionally happy or sad.