A novel written by Arthur C. Clarke in 1956 and set in the distant future where man has been out to space, found it terrible and has turned inwards. The protagonist, Alvin, is Unique amongst the society he lives in called Diaspar. He alone seeks to escape the city which is hardly an easy task but the first in a series of adventures Alvin has to find out why man has sought to retreat into himself.

The universe Clarke creates is intriguing and unfortunately a single short novel ends up asking more questions than it can satisfactorily answer. However, it is an entertaining read especially in looking for Clarke's prognostications on where technology will take us. The internet, virtual reality, avatars and artificial intelligences are all in there plus a whole lot more. For some reason, and I have noticed this in his other works, he seems fixated on trains or subways as the most efficient mass movers of people eschewing air travel for intraplanetary journeys.

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