Two Improvised Fugues: Arthur C. Clarke’s The City and the Stars and Against the Fall of Night

It begins with a roleplaying game, of all things, although it’s not called that precisely. It’s an immersive roleplaying environment, and our hero crashes it for him and his friends for wanting to go beyond its bounds and programmings, though not as a briefer. Rather, he is compelled by his innate drive and sense to seek and explore and burst the bounds that society and even this video game have placed upon him. And yet even this innocent exploration beyond boundaries causes change and crisis around him. It turns out to be a thematic strand in Alvin’s life.

The City and the Stars is Arthur C. Clarke’s reboot of one of his earlier works, Against the Fall of Night. Both tell Alvin’s story.

Against the Fall of Night is somewhat shorter, with differences accumulating particularly in the latter portion of the story, but both stories, when compared, seem to influence ...