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The City of the Living Dead

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Author: Fletcher Pratt
Co-author: Laurence Manning
Published: 1930
Language: English
Wordcount: 11,043 / 30 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 81.6
LoC Category: PZ
Downloads: 3,571
Added to site: 2009.11.28 25902

among the streets for close upon a day, and as twilight fell I made preparations to find a cellar for the night. But as I did this I saw among the myriad towers a single one that held a light in its window. A great, fierce hope sprung up in me that living men might be here, though mingled with it was the fear that it was only a trap of the Demon Power to lure me into his clutches. However, for what purpose had I come so far in such a melancholy land-but to adventure? So I made for this tall tower as rapidly as I might through all the tangled maze of streets.

"Night had come on before I reached it. I came upon it suddenly, swinging around the corner of another tower upon a square of forest land let into that village. A fox stirred in the underbrush as I crossed this square and for a moment a dark owl soared between me and the spring moon. The tower rose before me-a mountain of stone and glass, like the Mountain of the South in size but all dark and silent behind its windows, save some four or five near

Reader Reviews

Average Rating of 3.3 from 3 reviews: ****
Paulo Respighi

A very old (1930s) and a bit creaky story of a thousand year old enclave of living, working people, cut off from the rest of the world which had been destroyed by overreliance on machines. The machines did people's work and eventually lived their lives.
The story within the story concerns how free, clean, power and inexpensive manufacturing first ended all wars, then enslaved the world. It does touch on virtual reality and mentions that the "dark races" had to have a different reality--which is racist, but not the wholesale bigotry the other reviewers led me to expect.
The characters are flat and the plot trudges along. The main flaw is that given unlimited free power, naturally there would be greedy and ambitious people trying to control it, not world peace.

Tim Lukeman

A prescient story about the sweet snare of virtual reality, or the media environment as a whole. There's no question but that many people today would gladly be permanently wired into a digital world of endless fantasies & adventures tailored specifically for them, to the exclusion of living real life at all.

As the previous reviewer noted, there's the inevitable strain of racism taken for granted at the time the story was written. I found it best to shake my head sadly, sigh deeply, and recognize that things were different then. But perhaps not that different, just more blatant.

The essence of the story itself, though, seems even more relevant than ever today, with so many people happily wired into the Web, their iPhones, iPods, iPads, etc. A truly cautionary tale!


It's intriguing, considering it was published in 1930, as there are early elements of cyberpunk in here. The
tale is spun around the interaction of man and machine. It's interesting and short enough to read through but does have several shortcomings.

There is very little in the way of a pressing story to tell.It's very much an anecdote of an anecdote. With very little rising action, physical or emotional, there's not much to tie the reader to the narrative.

Although sparse, there's some very awkward and overt racism. It abruptly pushed me out of the story momentarily on the few occasions it came about. I found I needed to refocus my attention to continue reading.

Those early inklings of cyberpunk, however, were enough to keep me going through the pages.



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