Esprit S.F.

S.F. F. & F. Culture (Science-Fiction, Fantasy & Fantastic)

The City (Short story)

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© 1950 – Ray Bradbury

Located on a random planet orbiting around a lost star from the Galaxy’s rim, the City waits since two thousands years that somebody comes to wake her up.

Then, when strangers land in their space rocket and explore the City in a quest to find her inhabitants, She is very happy and deploys, one by one, all her sensors to identify her visitors and to compare them to her database.

And if they’re the Enemy, that filthy race which eradicate her creators a long time ago, watch out! Because the anger of the City will be terrible, the answer instantaneous and definitive!

Revenge is a dish best served cold…

My opinion

Two things to say about this short story: it is darned well written… but it also has become outmoded a lot!

Putting a story twenty thousands years in the future and read expressions like “magnetic tape”, “relays”, “retort” and “still”… this anchors definitely the story in the fifties and scratch a little its credibility. I think that an author should stay vague with the technology he uses because the risk is very high to be caught up, even overwhelmed, with science.

Fortunately, these reminders to the technology in its infancy of the last century’s middle are not much frequent and must not make us forget that Ray Bradbury (The Martian Chronicles) isn’t a scientist. He is first of all a poet, a gifted writer, a wonderful storyteller who describes with brio the awakening of the City and her bitterness towards her enemies.

This story is also broaching the question of the responsibility of a specie (or a country, a clan…) regarding its ancestors’ actions. If our fathers had perpetuated a genocide, are we responsible? And if we are not aware, how could we react facing a vendetta that we could qualify as blind? A secular hate often begins with a misunderstanding…

Shortly, an excellent story which, if we forget some incoherences, gives to us an unforgettable moment. I read this short story more than twenty years ago and I remember it as yesterday.

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