Bradbury Daily: “The City”

This is another one of those stories that starts out slow, where you don’t really have an idea of what’s going on or what the plot is going to be. Stick with it. You’ll get to the good stuff after about a page or so.

Once it clicked in my head what was going on, it started to seep in just how great this story is. It’s not giving too much away to say that we’re dealing with, essentially, a living city. Sure, it’s mechanical, but the level of artificial intelligence we’re dealing with here, though not named as such, is astounding. Despite its gears and computers, the city here is a living being.

The imagery is vivid. Maybe a little too vivid. When Bradbury talks about the city’s “nose” or “ear,” it’s apparent that he doesn’t mean it literally in the sense of the human or animal equivalents of these organs, but it’s really hard not to imagine a walled city with a giant nose sticking out of it.

On the subject of imagery that’s slightly-too-vivid, this story has the goriest scene I’ve encountered in any of the stories I’ve read. I know Bradbury’s dealt quite a lot with death, but mostly in the philosophical sense, and the deaths that have been depicted have been pretty tame. There’s a death in this story, though, that rivals anything shown in slasher films. It’s just gruesome, and this is coming from me, who, if you remember, doesn’t often have issues with even the most horrifying moments in horror-based media. I suppose some of the shock comes from the fact that my experience with Bradbury up until now has shown him to be fairly tame, and the scene in question was quite sudden. Until then the story had a fairly impassive tone. And then, suddenly, gore galore!

When it comes down to it, this is probably one of my favorite stories. It’s the ones like this, that make living beings out of non-living things, like cities, that really capture a reader’s imagination and stick around long after the book is closed.

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