THE YEARS OF THE CITY by Frederik Pohl
Kirkus Star


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Five sequential, loosely linked stories (like Midas World, 1983), exploring, in thoughtful and entertaining style, the future of New York City. The first tale sparkles after a didactic start: think-tank whiz Shire Brandon urges a new approach to New York's intractable problems (strikes, collapsing mass transit, criminals running amok), primarily via the Universal Town Meeting, an elaborate mass TV/radio hookup designed to allow everyone free debate and bargaining; meanwhile, Brandon's disturbed daughter (his wife committed suicide) learns that she's not his child and runs off in a blizzard. Next, a labored, diffuse, meandering episode: wealthy idealist de Rintelen Feigerman advances plans for a new, sanitary, self-sufficient city (improbable complications ensue). But the third tale is fine--blending a plan for Manhattan's transparent-dome enclosure with power struggles (unions, the mob) and marital tensions. And the other two splendid, more playful yarns depict a utopian city with few laws--where criminals (such as illegal hang-gliders) pay restitution by undertaking hazardous community service. . . as a chatty, cheerfully amateur Supreme Court, uninterested in legalisms, wittily dispenses accurate and practical justice. With one exception, then, and despite some editorializing interludes: the most surefooted and involving Pohl in some time.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1984
Publisher: Timescape/Pocket Books--dist. by Simon & Schuster