(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Important for many reasons, City remains Simak’s most famous work. Its first two stories are generally recognized as the first works representative of Simak’s fully developed style. All the tales contain elements and motifs found frequently in his stories and novels. The fourth tale in the work, “Desertion,” is one of science fiction’s most frequently anthologized stories. This collection is also notable for being recognized as an important work at a time when science fiction and fantasy were only beginning to receive serious notice within the literary community. The International Fantasy Award, which City won in 1953, predates both the Hugo and the Nebula awards. City received its award the same year that Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man (1953) became the first winner of the Hugo as best novel.

City is representative of two publishing trends in science fiction: a 1940’s trend in which writers produced several stories linked by recurring characters, settings, or themes (for example, Robert A. Heinlein’s Future History stories) and a 1950’s trend in which writers produced “fixups,” assembling previously published short stories, often with new framing or cementing material, into “novels.” Other noted examples of such “fixups” include Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles (1950), Theodore Sturgeon’s More than Human (1953), and A. E. van Vogt’s The War...

(The entire section is 424 words.)