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Publisher's Summary

Jenkins was a robot. He was built to be the perfect worker, tireless and uncomplaining. But, quite unexpectedly, he also became a close companion to generation after generation of his owners as the human race matured, moved beyond the confines of its once tiny planet, and eventually changed beyond all recognition. And then, because he was a good and dutiful servant, Jenkins went on to serve Earth's inheritors.

Here is a masterful tale of an Earth overrun by ants, a series of parallel worlds ruled by dogs, and a Jupiter where the human race finds its Gold Age - if "human" it could still be called.

BONUS AUDIO: City includes an exclusive introduction by Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author Mike Resnick.

©1980 Clifford D. Simak (P)2008 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Simak's unforgettable compassion and affection for all creation shines through." (
  • All-Time Best Science Fiction Novels (Locus Magazine)

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  • Overall


This was a book I couldn't stop reading and it was also a book I couldn't stop thinking about once it ended. It's message was thought provoking. A story of a family, the Websters, the plot evolves into the ultimate destruction of humanity. And yet we see that other alien races in the novel tend to make similar errors as they, too evolve. Life's questions, such as "to kill or not to kill" and "what does it mean to be human" and even the more abstract scifi rule to not interfere with another race are prevalent throughout the novel. If you are looking for a light reading experience, this is not the novel to read. But if you are looking for a book that will evoke discussion and comment on the human condition, this is a gold mine. Do not let the age of the book fool you into thinking it is no longer pertinent. The story is more pertinent today than it could have been when it was first written. The author's own comment prior to the Epilogue was intriguing. The narrators were very good and overall, this was an excellent read. I am delighted I bought it.

18 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Andrew
  • mORRINSVILLENew Zealand
  • 08-27-08

A very special kind of story.

A little Rickety around the edges as any novel from the 1940s imagining the far future would be, it is the only criticism of an otherwise remarkable narrative. A leading writer in the field of speculative fiction, Simak created his own sub-genre that explored the nature of humanity and the universe with optimism, compassion and gentleness. His words hold a special kind of magic, based on a undefined spirituality that sets him apart from the humanistic philosophies of so many of his contemporaries. Listening to his words, one cannot but help feel that Simak was one special kind of man. Probably not for everyone, this is not space opera, this is sci-fi as philosophy and literature.

21 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


This is a very interesting and thought provoking story. I liked Way Station better, perhaps because it was one continuous story. The City stories are linked as well by the robit character of Jenkins who ends up being very close to human, sort of super human. It's just a little harder to care about him. Harder to care about the Websters after they give up. Overall, I enjoyed the book very much and would recommend it to any SciFi lover.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Change is, after all, inevitable

A series of 8 short stories recounting the last decades of the human race and the ascendence of Dogs as the dominant species-- and how different their mindset is regarding the world and minor lifeforms.

Every story deals with a form of change in the society and how Humans, Dogs and Robots deal with it. All of them written and published between 1944 and 1951. Simak is a gifted author, City still a very enjoyable read and the audio performance is very nice. Worth your time.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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*Beautiful Example of Classic Sci-Fi*

Although it took two chapters before this novel really got its legs, I can't say enough great things about it.
I have read a lot of Simak's other works, and City is, BY FAR, his best.
It's really a shame that science fiction of this high caliber no longer exists as plentifully as it did during the 1950's & 60's.

Pick this one up if you are a fan of Robert Sheckley, Philip K. Dick, Isaac Asimov, or Ray Bradbury.
Really, really excellent listen.

9.37 / 10.00

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Despite the year, unique and innovative

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jennifer
  • SAN DIEGO, CA, United States
  • 05-13-09

a book from my past

I enjoyed it but of course is kind of out dated and not as good as I remembered it, But it is a classic...

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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touching and brilliant

this book ripped my brain apart it's so amazing. it doesn't feel crusty at all in fact it is still incredibly relevant

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Interesting but not profound

Between chapters they warn you might not understand or you might be upset. It's an interesting story but not as profound as it professes to be.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Reader is odd

The sound production isn't great. He reader has a nice voice but such a boring cadence. I only got through the first chapter.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful