Wednesday, May 21, 2008

13. The City Dwellers by Charles Platt

City Dwellers pictureFound this one at a crazy, disheveled used bookshop way out on Mont-Royal. In the basement floor they had a few bins of english books, mostly crap from the late 80s and 90s, but I found this old british sci-fi book. It was thin and nicely yellowed, perfect for my travels to come. I didn't really know much going in, beyond that it was about characters in growing and dieing cities and it had some nice written language at the beginning.

The uniting story line is the concept of our future world becoming completely dominated by cities and the human race slowly dying out because of them. For unknown reasons, we stop reproducing. There are four parts, each one at least a generation after the previous. The first story is about a hyper-decadent rock star trying to find meaning. The second about a pair of hipster artists who have fled the city, only to have it (in the form of their decadent friends) come to them (with news about the forced devacuations as the cities die). The third is in the rundown ruins of the crumbling cities where only a few cling to tradition and the rest run around destroying things. The final chapter is a dystopia of a few running humans surviving off the empty cities, while teeny enclaves of mostly men hunt down any women they can find to reproduce with.

It's an interesting read and, though the central conceit of humans stopping reproducing (if only) due to some kind of urban malaise and special surrender is a bit far flung, I found that it held some interesting conjectures and ideas. The situations were cool and the characters engaging, but because it was more like 4 novellas strung over a greater concept, it lacked the overall narrative that would have made me really loved it. Cool find, though.

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