Cities are those concentrations of people, and things, without which there couldn't be civilization.

The modern city, made possible by technology, is not to be confused with those concentrations, going by the same name, that existed before the invention of the steam engine, which allowed food and other goods to be brought from further and further away. The other invention that permitted the creation of the modern city, is the telegraph.

All refinments of transportation and communications technology, including the internet, have only speeded up the growth of the modern city to the point where it has become another of the dinosaurs of the modern era.

The life of the city has been investigated by Jane Jacobs.

A free Finnish newspaper, published by Janton OY (ltd). Contains information on young adults' trends, lifestyles and places to go. Available twice a month in a variety of locations around town.

City as a newspaper has an interesting concept. Since the cities of Finland are varied and quite far apart, each larger city has a separate issue of the newspaper. Most of the features are the same, however, as they touch most young adults and their lives. The "Places to go" and possibly some other articles vary from town to town, but overall the newspaper comes out as quite Helsinki-centric. Note: The author has only limited experience on reading City newspapers from other Finnish towns.

City is available in the following Finnish towns:

The City newspaper is regarded as somewhat of an authority on movie and restaurant reviews. It is quite easy to pick up an issue of City while out in town to see what is playing and if it is worth seeing. In the newest issues, (starting with 07/2002) a new restaurant column, Tarkastaja Lyytinen (Inspector Lyytinen) has appeared. In these, Lyytinen values value for money above all else.

Lately, City has also become host to thousands of personal ads. Many of these are mobile-centered, in that they are keyed in through a mobile phone and can be answered accordingly. This does not detract from the reading experience, however, as the classifieds are in a separate section. City also runs deitti.net, Finland's largest service of the sort.

The homepage, www.city.fi, is a portal for further information about the features in the issues, and also a forum of interaction for the readers. Many chats, message boards and the above-mentioned deitti.net attract thousands of users. The staff also post polls and questionnaires about subjects such as love, casual sex, etc. that are used for articles in later issues.

City is not a newspaper per se. There are only a few larger features per issue, and the rest of the space is filled with fixed columns, short interviews or interactive polls. One of these is Walter de Camp's "Inner Circle", where readers may write in and ask anything about partying, places to be or celebrities to see. City also runs "Life in Hell", a comic strip by Matt Groening. They also have an interesting concept where Finnish celebrities and politicians are asked what they are currently listening to, reading or planning to see.

City also has an English-language counterpart. Containing the essential clubs, events and other necessary information for the young traveller, it is available for pickup at most hotels. This is worth a read for a quick look at Finnish affluent culture and recent events.

If we think that at least one million people are required be a real city, then there are 428 cities in the world.

Of course this is highly subjective. Countries and regions have different ideas of defining city limits. Demographers instead like to talk about agglomerations, where several adjoining towns have a high degree of inter-dependence that they virtually form a single identity, such as in the case of the Ruhr or Chongquing. The same can happen when a few large cities are close together(e.g.: Dallas and Fort Worth, Basel, Freiburg and Mulhouse), or if a smaller city becomes part of a sprawling larger city (e.g.: Yokohama, Leeds, San Jose). Cross-national comparisions are always dodgy due to different timescales and data definitions, especially when in developing countries there is a large segment of the population that is undocumented or migratory.

Naturally countries with a large number of people will have more cities. Urbanisation is likely to be high in the developed world, as well as in physically large countries with expanses of inhospitable terrain, like Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Australia. Conversely, European countries are more likely to have population density centred on their capitals. Only eight countries have ten or more cities with one million or more inhabitants:

USA:	   54 cities
China:      48 cities
India:      42 cities
Brazil:     20 cities
Russia:     15 cities
Japan:      14 cities
Germany:    11 cities
Mexico:     10 cities

Conversely, France, Spain and Italy each have only four such cities.

Below are the 428 cities in the world with an estimated population of one million people or greater. Where possible the details of any other cities that are counted are included.

34,000,000: Tokyo (Tōkyō), Japan (also includes: Yokohama, Kawasaki)
22,350,000: Mexico City (Ciudad de México), Mexico (also includes: Nezahualcóyotl, Ecatepec, Naucalpan)
22,050,000: Seoul (Sŏul), South Korea (also includes: Bucheon, Goyang, Incheon, Seongnam, Suweon)
21,800,000: New York, USA (also includes: Newark, Paterson)
20,000,000: Sao Paulo (São Paulo), Brazil (also includes: Guarulhos)
19,400,000: Bombay (Mumbai), India (also includes: Kalyan, Thane, Ulhasnagar)
19,000,000: Delhi, India (also includes: Faridabad, Ghaziabad)
17,750,000: Los Angeles, USA (also includes: Riverside, Anaheim)
16,850,000: Jakarta, Indonesia (also includes: Bekasi, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang)
16,750,000: Osaka (Ōsaka), Japan (also includes: Kobe, Kyoto)
15,350,000: Calcutta (Kolkata), India (also includes: Haora)
15,250,000: Cairo (Al-Qāhirah), Egypt (also includes: Al-Jizah, Shubra al-Khaymah)
14,550,000: Manila, Philippines (also includes: Kalookan, Quezon City)
13,800,000: Karachi (Karāchi), Pakistan
13,650,000: Moscow (Moskva), Russia
13,400,000: Shanghai, China
13,350,000: Buenos Aires, Argentina (also includes: San Justo, La Plata)
12,750,000: Dacca (Dhaka), Bangladesh
12,000,000: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (also includes: Nova Iguaçu, São Gonçalo)
11,950,000: London, Great Britain
11,650,000: Tehran (Tehrān), Iran (also includes: Karaj)
11,250,000: Istanbul (İstanbul), Turkey
10,800,000: Lagos, Nigeria
10,700,000: Beijing, China
9,900,000: Paris, France
9,700,000: Chicago, USA
8,350,000: Lima, Peru
8,150,000: Bogota (Santa Fe de Bogotá), Colombia
8,050,000: Washington, USA (also includes: Baltimore)
8,000,000: Nagoya, Japan
7,800,000: Chungking (Chongqing), China
7,800,000: Bangkok (Krung Thep), Thailand
7,450,000: Madras (Chennai), India
7,300,000: Hong Kong (Xianggang), China
7,300,000: Lahore, Pakistan
7,200,000: San Francisco, USA (also includes: Oakland, San Jose)
7,150,000: Johannesburg, South Africa (also includes: Soweto, East Rand, West Rand)
6,900,000: Bangalore, India
6,900,000: Taipei (T'aipei), Taiwan
6,800,000: Kinshasa, DR Congo
6,550,000: Hyderabad (Hyderābād), India
6,000,000: Philadelphia, USA
5,950,000: Tientsin (Tianjin), China
5,850,000: Dallas, USA (also includes: Fort Worth)
5,800,000: Ruhr, Germany
5,750,000: Detroit, USA (also includes: Windsor (Canada))
5,700,000: Boston, USA
5,500,000: Khartoum (Al-Khartūm), Sudan
5,450,000: Ahmadabad (Ahmadābād), India
5,450,000: Baghdad (Baghdād), Iraq
5,450,000: Miami, USA (also includes: Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach)
5,400,000: Belo Horizonte, Brazil
5,400,000: Riyadh (Ar-Riyād), Saudi Arabia
5,300,000: Santiago, Chile
5,300,000: Houston, USA
5,250,000: Madrid, Spain
5,200,000: St. Petersburg (Sankt-Peterburg, Leningrad), Russia
5,150,000: Toronto, Canada
5,000,000: Atlanta, USA
4,950,000: Canton (Guangzhou), China
4,900,000: Wuhan, China
4,900,000: Alexandria (Al-Iskandarīyah), Egypt
4,900,000: Rangoon (Yangon), Myanmar
4,850,000: Ho Chi Minh City (Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh, Saigon), Vietnam
4,650,000: Caracas, Venezuela
4,600,000: Harbin, China
4,550,000: Singapore, Singapore
4,500,000: Shenyang, China
4,350,000: Poona (Pune), India (also includes: Pimpri-Chinchwad)
4,300,000: Sydney, Australia
4,250,000: Guadalajara, Mexico (also includes: Zapopan)
4,200,000: Berlin, Germany
4,150,000: Chittagong, Bangladesh
4,150,000: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
4,100,000: Algiers (El Djazaïr), Algeria
4,000,000: Porto Alegre, Brazil
4,000,000: Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire
3,850,000: Chengtu (Chengdu), China
3,850,000: Monterrey, Mexico
3,800,000: Milan (Milano), Italy
3,800,000: Jidda (Jiddah), Saudi Arabia
3,800,000: Barcelona, Spain
3,800,000: Phoenix, USA
3,750,000: Recife, Brazil
3,750,000: Casablanca (Casablanca (Dar-el-Beida)), Morocco
3,750,000: Busan (Busan (Pusan)), South Korea
3,700,000: Ankara, Turkey
3,700,000: Seattle, USA
3,600,000: Melbourne, Australia
3,600,000: Montreal (Montréal), Canada
3,550,000: Surat (Sūrat), India
3,550,000: Pyongyang (P'yŏngyang), North Korea
3,500,000: Athens (Athínai), Greece
3,450,000: Brasília, Brazil
3,450,000: Salvador, Brazil
3,450,000: Durban, South Africa
3,400,000: Medellin (Medellín), Colombia
3,350,000: Fortaleza, Brazil
3,350,000: Rome (Roma), Italy
3,350,000: Minneapolis, USA
3,300,000: Nanking (Nanjing), China
3,300,000: Bandung, Indonesia
3,300,000: Kano, Nigeria
3,250,000: Cape Town (Kaapstad), South Africa
3,250,000: Kiev (Kyyiv), Ukraine
3,200,000: Kabul (Kabol), Afghanistan
3,150,000: Curitiba, Brazil
3,150,000: Kānpur, India
3,150,000: Surabaya, Indonesia
3,150,000: Amman ('Ammān), Jordan
3,050,000: Sian (Xi'an), China
3,050,000: Tel Aviv-Jaffa (Tel Aviv-Yafo), Israel
3,050,000: Naples (Napoli), Italy
3,000,000: Dairen (Dalian), China
3,000,000: Addis Abeba (Adis Abeba), Ethiopia
3,000,000: San Diego, USA
2,950,000: Lisbon (Lisboa), Portugal
2,900,000: Tsingtao (Qingdao), China
2,900,000: Santo Domingo (Santo Domingo (de Guzman)), Dominican Republic
2,900,000: Nairobi, Kenya
2,900,000: Ibadan, Nigeria
2,900,000: Kaohsiung, Taiwan
2,900,000: Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
2,850,000: Jaipur, India
2,850,000: Faisalabad (Lyallpur), Pakistan
2,850,000: Katowice, Poland (also includes the Upper Silesian Area)
2,850,000: Cleveland, USA
2,800,000: Luanda, Angola
2,800,000: San Juan, Puerto Rico
2,800,000: Daegu (Taegu), South Korea
2,800,000: St. Louis, USA
2,750,000: Damascus (Dimashq), Syria
2,750,000: Izmir (İzmir), Turkey
2,700,000: Lucknow, India
2,700,000: Rawalpindi (Rāwalpindi), Pakistan (also includes: Islamabad)
2,700,000: Aleppo (Halab), Syria
2,650,000: Campinas, Brazil
2,650,000: Cali, Colombia
2,650,000: Stuttgart, Germany
2,650,000: Tampa, USA
2,650,000: Denver, USA
2,600,000: Hangchou (Hangzhou), China
2,600,000: Birmingham, Great Britain
2,550,000: Hamburg, Germany
2,550,000: Accra, Ghana
2,550,000: Meshed (Mashhad), Iran
2,550,000: Colombo, Sri Lanka
2,500,000: Zhengzhou, China
2,500,000: Manchester, Great Britain
2,500,000: Sapporo, Japan
2,500,000: Puebla, Mexico
2,450,000: Nagpur (Nāgpur), India
2,450,000: Pittsburgh, USA
2,400,000: Changchun, China
2,400,000: Jinan, China
2,400,000: Shijiazhuang, China
2,400,000: Budapest, Hungary
2,400,000: Warsaw (Warszawa), Poland
2,400,000: Tashkent (Toshkent, Taškent), Uzbekistan
2,350,000: Taichung (T'aichung), Taiwan
2,300,000: Havana (La Habana), Cuba
2,300,000: Medan, Indonesia
2,300,000: Dakar, Senegal
2,300,000: Pretoria, South Africa
2,250,000: Guayaquil, Ecuador
2,250,000: San Salvador, El Salvador
2,250,000: Fukuoka, Japan
2,250,000: Beirut (Bayrūt), Lebanon
2,200,000: Vancouver, Canada
2,200,000: Port-au-Prince, Haiti
2,200,000: Tunis (Tūnis), Tunisia
2,150,000: Taiyuan, China
2,150,000: Leeds, Great Britain
2,150,000: Amsterdam, Netherlands
2,150,000: Maracaibo, Venezuela
2,100,000: Baku (Bakı), Azerbaijan
2,100,000: Kunming, China
2,100,000: Patna, India
2,100,000: Bucharest (Bucureşti), Romania
2,100,000: Sacramento, USA
2,100,000: Portland, USA
2,100,000: Cincinnati, USA
2,100,000: Harare (Harare (Salisbury)), Zimbabwe
2,050,000: Belem (Belém), Brazil
2,050,000: Changsha, China
2,000,000: Indore, India
2,000,000: Chungli, Taiwan
1,975,000: Guatemala City (Ciudad de Guatemala), Guatemala
1,950,000: Munich (München), Germany
1,950,000: Kansas City, USA
1,925,000: Nanchang, China
1,925,000: Frankfurt, Germany
1,900,000: Goiania (Goiânia), Brazil
1,900,000: Donetsk (Donets'k), Ukraine
1,900,000: San Antonio, USA
1,900,000: Orlando, USA
1,875,000: Vienna (Wien), Austria
1,875,000: Brussels (Bruxelles (Brussel)), Belgium
1,875,000: Barranquilla, Colombia
1,850,000: Fuzhou, China
1,850,000: Cologne (Köln), Germany
1,850,000: Isfahan (Esfahān), Iran
1,850,000: Asuncion (Asunción), Paraguay
1,850,000: Montevideo, Uruguay
1,850,000: Indianapolis, USA
1,825,000: Kharkov (Kharkiv), Ukraine
1,800,000: Douala, Cameroon
1,800,000: Valencia, Venezuela
1,775,000: Brisbane, Australia
1,775,000: Minsk, Belarus
1,775,000: Dammam (Ad-Dammām), Saudi Arabia
1,750,000: Zibo, China
1,750,000: Vadodara (Vadodara (Baroda)), India
1,750,000: Maputo, Mozambique
1,750,000: Gujranwala (Gujrānwāla), Pakistan
1,750,000: Nižnij Novgorod (Nižnij Novgorod, Gor'kij), Russia
1,750,000: Hanoi (Ha Noi), Vietnam
1,725,000: La Paz, Bolivia
1,725,000: Lanzhou, China
1,725,000: Bhopal (Bhopāl), India
1,725,000: Hiroshima, Japan
1,725,000: Rabat, Morocco
1,725,000: Stockholm, Sweden
1,725,000: Milwaukee, USA
1,725,000: Columbus, USA
1,700,000: Guiyang, China
1,700,000: Ningbo, China
1,700,000: Palembang, Indonesia
1,700,000: Hyderabad (Hyderābād), Pakistan
1,700,000: Las Vegas, USA
1,675,000: Coimbatore, India
1,675,000: Virginia Beach, USA
1,650,000: Santos, Brazil
1,650,000: Manaus, Brazil
1,650,000: Wuxi, China
1,650,000: Ludhiana (Ludhiāna), India
1,650,000: Antananarivo (Tananarive), Madagascar
1,650,000: Providence, USA
1,625,000: Vitoria (Vitória), Brazil
1,625,000: Kuwait City (Al-Kuwayt), Kuwait
1,625,000: Tijuana, Mexico
1,625,000: Multan (Multān), Pakistan
1,625,000: Cebu, Philippines
1,600,000: Hofei (Hefei), China
1,600,000: Mannheim, Germany
1,600,000: Semarang, Indonesia
1,600,000: Kitakyushu (Kitakyūshū), Japan
1,600,000: Bamako, Mali
1,600,000: Lusaka, Zambia
1,575,000: Anshan, China
1,575,000: Jilin, China
1,575,000: Quito, Ecuador
1,575,000: Agra (Āgra), India
1,575,000: Sendai, Japan
1,575,000: Novosibirsk, Russia
1,550,000: Glasgow, Great Britain
1,550,000: Ciudad Juarez (Ciudad Juárez), Mexico
1,550,000: Mecca (Makkah), Saudi Arabia
1,550,000: Buffalo, USA (also includes St. Catharines (Canada))
1,525,000: Cordoba (Córdoba), Argentina
1,525,000: Khulna, Bangladesh
1,525,000: Conakry, Guinea
1,525,000: Vishakhpatnam (Visākhpatnam, Vishākhpatnam)), India
1,525,000: Kochi (Cochin), India
1,525,000: Yekaterinburg (Jekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk), Russia
1,525,000: Belgrade (Beograd), Serbia and Montenegro
1,525,000: Salt Lake City, USA
1,500,000: Shenzhen, China
1,500,000: Tangshan, China
1,500,000: Turin (Torino), Italy
1,500,000: Kaduna, Nigeria
1,500,000: Charlotte, USA
1,475,000: Yaounde (Yaoundé), Cameroon
1,475,000: Tripoli (Tarābulus), Libya
1,475,000: Taejon (Daejeon (Taejŏn)), South Korea
1,450,000: Perth, Australia
1,450,000: Santa Cruz, Bolivia
1,450,000: Urumqi (Wulumuqi), China
1,450,000: Fushun, China
1,450,000: Marseille, France
1,450,000: Nasik (Nāshik), India
1,450,000: Leon (León), Mexico
1,450,000: Gwangju (Kwangju), South Korea
1,450,000: Bursa, Turkey
1,450,000: Austin, USA
1,425,000: Lyon, France
1,425,000: Tabriz (Tabrīz), Iran
1,425,000: Gaza (Ghazzah), Palestinian Territories
1,425,000: Valencia (València), Spain
1,425,000: Nashville, USA
1,400,000: Copenhagen (København), Denmark
1,400,000: Meerut, India
1,400,000: Toluca, Mexico
1,400,000: Samara (Samara (Kujbyšev)), Russia
1,400,000: Kampala, Uganda
1,400,000: Dnepropetrovsk (Dnipropetrovs'k), Ukraine
1,400,000: Raleigh, USA
1,375,000: Lille, France (also includes: Kortrijk (Belgium))
1,375,000: Benares (Vārānasi), India
1,375,000: Okayama, Japan
1,375,000: Peshawar (Peshāwar), Pakistan
1,375,000: Davao, Philippines
1,375,000: Volgograd, Russia
1,375,000: Mogadishu (Muqdisho), Somalia
1,350,000: Liverpool, Great Britain
1,350,000: Ujungpandang, Indonesia
1,350,000: Porto, Portugal
1,325,000: Phnom Penh (Phnum Pénh), Cambodia
1,325,000: Suzhou, China
1,325,000: San Jose (San José), Costa Rica
1,325,000: Dusseldorf (Düsseldorf), Germany
1,325,000: Madurai, India
1,325,000: Asansol, India
1,325,000: Rostov-na-Donu, Russia
1,325,000: Chelyabinsk (Čel'abinsk), Russia
1,325,000: Tainan (T'ainan), Taiwan
1,325,000: Dubai (Dubayy), United Arab Emirates
1,325,000: New Orleans, USA
1,325,000: Louisville, USA
1,325,000: Sanaa (San'ā'), Yemen
1,300,000: Baotou, China
1,300,000: Xuzhou, China
1,300,000: Jamshedpur, India
1,300,000: Jabalpur, India
1,300,000: Adana, Turkey
1,275,000: Rosario, Argentina
1,275,000: Nanning, China
1,275,000: Prague (Praha), Czech Republic
1,275,000: Sheffield, Great Britain
1,275,000: Memphis, USA
1,275,000: Maracay, Venezuela
1,250,000: Lubumbashi, DR Congo
1,250,000: Mbuji-Mayi, DR Congo
1,250,000: Rajkot (Rājkot), India
1,250,000: Dhanbad (Dhanbād), India
1,250,000: Tanjungkarang (Tanjungkarang, Bandar Lampung), Indonesia
1,250,000: Shiraz (Shīrāz), Iran
1,250,000: Mosul (Al-Mawsil), Iraq
1,250,000: Kathmandu (Kāthmāndau), Nepal
1,250,000: Auckland, New Zealand
1,250,000: Sevilla, Spain
1,250,000: Jacksonville, USA
1,225,000: Yerevan, Armenia
1,225,000: Sao Luis (São Luís), Brazil
1,225,000: Handan, China
1,225,000: Luoyang, China
1,225,000: Brazzaville, Congo
1,225,000: Amritsar, India
1,225,000: Managua, Nicaragua
1,225,000: Panama City (Ciudad de Panamá), Panama
1,225,000: Grand Rapids, USA
1,200,000: Oran (Wahran), Algeria
1,200,000: Natal, Brazil
1,200,000: Sofia (Sofija), Bulgaria
1,200,000: Tbilisi, Georgia
1,200,000: Allahabad (Allahābād), India
1,200,000: Alma-Ata (Almaty), Kazakhstan
1,200,000: Rotterdam, Netherlands
1,200,000: Benin City, Nigeria
1,200,000: Hartford, USA
1,175,000: Qiqihar, China
1,175,000: Richmond, USA
1,175,000: Oklahoma City, USA
1,150,000: Ottawa, Canada
1,150,000: Vijayawada (Vijayawāda), India
1,150,000: Omsk, Russia
1,150,000: Barquisimeto, Venezuela
1,125,000: Adelaide, Australia
1,125,000: Antwerp (Antwerpen, Anvers), Belgium
1,125,000: Maceio (Maceió), Brazil
1,125,000: Shantou, China
1,125,000: Srinagar (Srīnagar), India
1,125,000: Chandigarh (Chandīgarh), India
1,125,000: Naha, Japan
1,125,000: Himeji, Japan
1,125,000: Saratov, Russia
1,125,000: Kazan (Kazan'), Russia
1,125,000: Zurich (Zürich), Switzerland
1,125,000: Greensboro, USA
1,100,000: Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
1,100,000: Calgary, Canada
1,100,000: Datong, China
1,100,000: Helsinki (Helsinki (Helsingfors)), Finland
1,100,000: Aurangabad (Shambajinagar, Aurangābād), India
1,100,000: Bhilai (Bhilai Nagar), India
1,100,000: Kumamoto, Japan
1,100,000: Hamamatsu, Japan
1,100,000: Torreon (Torreón), Mexico
1,100,000: Lodz (Łódź), Poland
1,100,000: Ufa, Russia
1,100,000: Freetown, Sierra Leone
1,100,000: Port Elizabeth, South Africa
1,100,000: Ulsan, South Korea
1,100,000: Odessa (Odesa), Ukraine
1,100,000: Birmingham, USA
1,075,000: Newcastle upon Tyne, Great Britain
1,075,000: Port Harcourt, Nigeria
1,075,000: Nampo (Namp'o), North Korea
1,075,000: Perm (Perm'), Russia
1,075,000: Medina (Al-Madīnah), Saudi Arabia
1,050,000: Joinville, Brazil
1,050,000: Huhehot (Hohhot (), China
1,050,000: Benxi, China
1,050,000: Bucaramanga, Colombia
1,050,000: Cartagena, Colombia
1,050,000: Nurnberg (Nürnberg), Germany
1,050,000: Ranchi (Rānchi), India
1,050,000: Sholapur (Solāpur (Sholāpur)), India
1,050,000: Dublin (Dublin (Baile Átha Cliath)), Ireland
1,050,000: Gaziantep, Turkey
1,050,000: Rochester, USA
1,050,000: Greenville, USA
1,025,000: Edmonton, Canada
1,025,000: Hanover (Hannover), Germany
1,025,000: Johor Baharu, Malaysia
1,025,000: Fes (Fès), Morocco
1,025,000: Fresno, USA
1,000,000: Joao Pessoa (João Pessoa), Brazil
1,000,000: Huainan, China
1,000,000: Jodhpur, India
1,000,000: Gwalior, India
1,000,000: Basra (Al-Basrah), Iraq
1,000,000: Shizuoka, Japan
1,000,000: San Luis Potosi (San Luis Potosí), Mexico
1,000,000: Krasnojarsk, Russia
1,000,000: Dayton, USA
1,000,000: Albany, USA
1,000,000: Haiphong (Hai Phong), Vietnam

ref: www.citypopulation.de

Classic science fiction novel by Clifford D. Simak. While the complete book was published in 1952, it was really a compilation of closely related short stories and novellas published by Simak in the '40s and '50s.

This is the kind of story that exemplifies why I love so many stories from science fiction's Golden Age -- it has stereotypical sci-fi elements like robots, mutants, and aliens, it has completely unscientific elements like talking dogs and intelligent ants, it has wild, breathtaking ideas, it has characters you can't help but love and hate, and its glimpse of the future is simultaneously grim and hopeful. It's far from a perfect book -- there are ongoing assumptions in the story that most of humanity, regardless of cultural differences, will always speak and act with one voice. There are no important female characters in the whole book. And some of the science is distractingly goofy. Nevertheless, Simak is one of science fiction's unrecognized geniuses, and this is his masterwork.

"City" is the story of how mankind dies, told from the perspective of the intelligent dogs who have taken over the Earth in our absence. It's all framed as an attempt by the dogs to assemble an oral history of the planet, including the improbable myths of a creature called Man that used to run things in the distant past. Much of that history follows the lives of a single human family, the Websters, and a nearly immortal robot named Jenkins.

In the initial story, told only a short distance in our own future, humanity is in the process of abandoning all of its cities. Mostly plotless, it serves mainly to allow us to follow the transition from today's urban society to a future society using advanced technology to embrace a more pastoral lifestyle. Technological advances in transportation and communications have rendered the city unnecessary -- people can live anywhere they want and still stay in contact with their friends, families, and coworkers. Anyone can feed themselves with a hydroponic garden. Few people want to live in big, crowded, smelly cities, which are mostly abandoned except for some squatters. Only a few old-timers still cling to the old ways.

A century later, we get to our first really important character, Jerome Webster, a doctor who's been turned into an agoraphobic, terrified of open spaces, by his comfortable life at home. His every need is taken care of instantly by the family's robots, including the butler, Jenkins. Webster is called upon to travel to Mars, where history's greatest philosopher, Juwain, is gravely ill -- if he lives, he will soon develop a new philosophy that will propel humanity to the very peaks of perfect enlightenment. But Webster finds himself completely unable to undertake the journey to save his friend.

We jump forward several decades and sees the introduction of the Dogs, as Jerome Webster's grandson surgically gives his pet the ability to speak. We also meet Joe, a mutant who is able to live for centuries and is gifted with extraordinary intelligence. A completely amoral creature, he has spent over a hundred years helping humans, but he's getting bored with that. So he steals the last notes on Juwain's revolutionary Martian philosophy, just for the pleasure of hurting humanity. We also get our first look at the ants, as Joe puts a nest on the path to higher intelligence by protecting it for a few winters, then sadistically demolishes the mound. But the ants have already learned quite a bit, and they'll be back...

The years march on, and we leave Earth to visit the hostile surface of Jupiter, where scientists have attempted to explore the planet by transforming themselves into creatures that can survive the corrosive atmosphere -- but none of these scientists have ever returned. What predator could be killing them off? In fact, they're not being killed off -- they're refusing to come back because they don't want to become human again. For a Jovian, the planet's surface is the greatest, most ecstatic, most wonderful paradise imaginable. Years later, one of the scientists decides to return to Earth to tell everyone about how wonderful Jupiter is -- but will the news trigger the extinction of humanity? Who would choose to remain human or live on Earth when another species on another planet could know such perfect bliss?

Decades, centuries, millennia pass. The Webster family continues on, slowly dooming the human race with each decision it makes. The Dogs continue on, growing in sophistication and morality. Jenkins and the other robots continue on, shepherding the new animal civilization through the years. The ants continue on, becoming more and more powerful. Some species die off, some species evolve into new forms, some species abandon Earth forever. Life continues, on and on. Earth continues.

No question, it's a melancholy, almost heart-breaking story. If you've long dreamed that mankind would live forever, this story will subject you to the spectre of the human race embracing extinction, of humanity's greatest works of science and art being forgotten, of even Man's Best Friend leaving our home planet behind in the face of an expansionist alien species. Simak's "Epilog" (which is not present in all editions of the novel) is even sadder. "City" is a book with few truly happy endings.

And yet, I still see this as a hopeful book, and it fills me with joy when I read it. Why? I really don't know. Perhaps it's the beauty of the writing and of the story. Perhaps it's the fact that many of mankind's creations -- robots, dogs, storytelling, morality and ethics -- continue thousands of years beyond our end, even if our status as the creators are long forgotten. Maybe I just really like dogs.

Maybe I enjoy the novel so much because I like the way it's acknowledged that, eventually, all species must die out -- extinction is inevitable, but I think Simak knew that our story isn't finished yet. Enjoy the good things that humanity has brought about, recognize the bad things that we've caused, resolve to help move the species farther along the evolutionary chain, scientifically, artistically, socially.

In the end, I think it's a story about life and death and memory. Years will pass, centuries will pass. We will die, and those who follow us will remember us for a while. But we will eventually be forgotten. That thought may make you feel depressed and melancholy. But life, in some form, continues, and where there's life, there's hope.

Research:
http://www.scifi.com/sfw/issue398/classic.html
http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/002619.html
The joy of reading good science fiction

Cit"y (), n.; pl. Cities (#). [OE. cite, F. cit, fr. L. civitas citizenship, state, city, fr. civis citizen; akin to Goth. heiwa (in heiwafrauja man of the house), AS. , pl., members of a family, servants, family, G. heirath marriage, prop., providing a house, E. hind a peasant.]

1.

A large town.

2.

A corporate town; in the United States, a town or collective body of inhabitants, incorporated and governed by a mayor and aldermen or a city council consisting of a board of aldermen and a common council; in Great Britain, a town corporate, which is or has been the seat of a bishop, or the capital of his see.

A city is a town incorporated; which is, or has been, the see of a bishop; and though the bishopric has been dissolved, as at Westminster, it yet remaineth a city. Blackstone

When Gorges constituted York a city, he of course meant it to be the seat of a bishop, for the word city has no other meaning in English law. Palfrey

3.

The collective body of citizens, or inhabitants of a city.

"What is the city but the people?"

Shak.

Syn. -- See Village.

 

© Webster 1913.


Cit"y, a.

Of or pertaining to a city.

Shak.

City council. See under Council. -- City court, The municipal court of a city. [U. S.] -- City ward, a watchman, or the collective watchmen, of a city. [Obs.]

Fairfax.

 

© Webster 1913.

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