Computers in Fiction
fictional computing in the 20th century


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Clarke, Arthur C. The City and the Stars

Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1956. USAFrederick Muller, 1956, UK The City and the Stars The City and the Stars (Millennium SF Masterworks S) Topics:
super computer, virtual reality Themes:
death, sentience, artificial intelligence, dehumanization Motifs:
central computer, digital person, sentient machine, omnipotent computer The central computer is the highest authority in the city of Diaspar. It can synthesize all that is in its memory banks: food, buildings, furniture, even people. It can read the minds of the inhabitants and knows all that is going on in the city. It can produce illusions for the inhabitants, called saga's (virtual reality experience). People in the city of Diaspar have become fearful of everything that is outside the known existence. Adventure, courage, passions are a thing of the past.The central computer is described as having a greater intelligence than man.People in Diaspar are immortal. Their personality is stored in the memory banks of the Central Computer. Once every thousands of years they are given a new body so that they can live again. Their memories return after twenty years or so in the new body.The Central Computer in Diaspar has a will and intelligence of its own: "Even if it was not alive in the biological sense, it certainly possessed at least as much awareness and self-consciousness as a human being." (p.50) Rewritten version of
Against the Fall of Night

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