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Arthur C. Clarke's The City and the Stars:
Additional Resources

First published: New York: Harcourt, Brace & World (1956)

This is a complete list of characters in Arthur C. Clarke's novel The City and the Stars. This list is provided as a resource for students and researchers. Characters in bold print are the most important.

Dramatis Personae

Name Page
Brief description, role
Alystra 5 A young twenty-something. The some-time girlfriend of Alvin, the novel's main character. Alystra is generally bound by the limitations of all people in her culture, but she shows some extra initiative and determination in trying to maintain a relationship with Alvin, despite his frequent disinterest. She correctly recognizes that he is different from all other people in Diaspar. She is a supporting character throughout novel.
Narrillian 5 Traditional Diaspar young man. Friend of Alvin. Only appears in novel during Alvin's session in a virtual reality "saga."
Floranus 5 Traditional Diaspar young man. Friend of Alvin. Only appears in novel during Alvin's session in a virtual reality "saga."
Alvin 5 The novel's main character. He comes to realize he is a 'Unique,' born without the psychological blocks which prevent him from leaving the city of Diaspar. The destiny the city's creator's intended for him is to shake things up and prevent stagnation of the culture.
Callistron 6 Traditional Diaspar young man. Friend of Alvin. Only appears in novel during Alvin's session in a virtual reality "saga."
Jeserac 8 Alvin's tutor, and an elder statesman in Diaspar. Important throughout novel. He has lived a long time and is very knowledgeable about Diaspar. Alvin turns to him for information. He is a proponent of tradition, but is remarkable adaptable when as he comes to realize Alvin's unique role.
Eriston 9 Alvin's "father." A fairly simple person. People are not born through biological procreation in Diaspar, but Eristona and Etania are Alvin's assigned guardians until his adulthood.
Etania 9 Alvin's "mother." Also a fairly simple person, like Eriston, her companion and Alvin's "father."
Yarlan Zey 25 The legendary designer and builder Diaspar. He has long since died, but his presence is felt in many ways, including his monumental statue in The Tomb of Yarlan Zey which stands in Diaspar's center and in dreams. Toward the end of the novel, Alvin wonders if Yarlan Zey's memories and consciousness have been recycled into him.
Khedron 44 A man with the rare role of "Jester." He has unparalleled access to the inner workings of Diaspar, which on occasion he uses to create elaborate pranks. His role was designed by the city's founders to prevent stagnation in society. Alvin feels an affinity to him, while at the same time finding him annoying and cryptic. Despite the Jester's birthright, he ends up proving himself a coward incapable of facing the very dramatic changes brought by Alvin.
Central Computer 67 The computer intelligence which controls Diaspar. As the novel it progresses it becomes clear that the Central Computer has a least as much intelligence and self-consciousness as the city's citizens (pg. 74), although it does not deviate from its designer's programming. It first speaks with its "own" voice, in a recognizably different and more distinct way than communication simply through unintelligent-seeming terminals, on pg. 190. There its voice is said to possess an "unmistakable accent of wisdom and authority."
Gerane 106 A leading citizen in Airlee, the village in Lys that Alvin first encounters. An advisor to Seranis
Seranis 106 The woman who leads Seranis. Stern and very capable, she initially opposes some of Alvin's plans, but comes to be an ally. Alvin is confused by Seranis's role. At times she seems to be an absolute authority, but at other times she seems to have no power at all in a purely democratic society.
Hilvar 125 The son of Seranis. Hilvar is a remarkably intelligent and intellectually curious individual. He becomes Alvin's traveling companion and close friend throughout the last two-thirds of the novel. Hilvar's rather homely physical appearance is soon forgotten by Alvin.
Krif 127 Hilvar's pet, a six-winged, highly evolved insect with mammal-like intelligence.
Nyara 128 Hilvar's girlfriend. A "shy, dark girl", mentioned only on a couple pages.
Master's robot 151 The Master's personal robot is one of the most advanced machines ever built. Its intelligence, knowledge and abilities are impressive, but it has little personality. It awaits the return of the Great Ones foretold by the Master. It hovers and pilots the Master's spaceship. After Alvin finds it, it accompanies him throughout most of the rest of the novel, although usually in silence.
the Giant Polyp 152 An alien being composed of millions of microscopic creatures who combine to form a single intelligent, composite entity. It lives in the lake in Shalmirane and is the last adherent of the religion founded by the Master. Periodically it must dissolve into its constituent parts for regeneration, during which time it is no longer one solid being, and no longer intelligent. Its unique biology makes it essentially immortal, which is why it has lived so long in the lake at Shalmirane, where it awaits the arrival of the Great Ones.
The Master 154 The enigmatic founder and leader of a great and diverse galactic religion. He was originally hated by the majority of the people on his homeworld, from which he fled, spreading his teachings and gaining followers, before finally ending up on Earth. His last followers, the giant polyp and his robot, remain in Shalmirane waiting for the Great Ones who he foretold would some day return to the galaxy.
leader of the city's proctors 177 The unnamed leader of the "proctors" -- servants of Diaspar's leading Council. They wear formal black robes. They are essentially the security/police in Diaspar, although crime as we usually think of it is essentially nonexistent. He says little, other than to indicate to Alvin that the proctors will be keeping an eye on Alvin, and escorting him to the city's Council.
the President of the Council 187 The unnamed President is the head of Diaspar's Council. In Diaspar there is little need for formal leadership, however, because the Central Computer pretty much runs things. The Council does not meet frequently and takes few formal actions.
unnamed Senators of Lys 219 Unnamed leaders of Lys. They rarely meet in person because, like all adults in Lys, they are telepathic, and also because the culture in Lys is so stable they are rarely needed.
the Master's spaceship 215 One of the fastest, most advanced ships ever created in the galaxy. It is luxurious on the inside, and served as the Master's living quarters during his many voyages between planets. It is first unearthed from its millions of years of slumber under the ground by Alvin, through the Master's robot, on page. 211. The ship is piloted by the Master's robot. Alvin first sees the inside on pg. 215. Alvin and Hilvar spend some time on the ship when they travel to and from the Seven Suns.
Vanamonde 264 An advanced non-corporeal entity of unimaginable intellect and knowledge, but little wisdom or emotional maturity. Created by the citizens of the galactic Empire many ages ago.
Senator Gerane 279 One of the leaders of Lys, and an expert in psychology. He develops the therapeutic techniques that help the citizens of Diaspar overcome their fear of leaving their city.
Callitrax 287 A citizen of Lys. A historian. Leader of the group charged with reconstructing the past from the information which Vanamonde had brought to Earth. Delivers much new information to the peoples of Lys and Diaspar in chapter 24.
The Mad Mind 292 Before they made Vanamonde, 'The Mad Mind' was the product of galactic civilization's first attempt to create an entity of pure, non-physical intellect. The Mad Mind was powerful, but beyond the control of those who created it, and it ravaged the galaxy before being imprisoned in the Black Sun.

Settings in The City and the Stars

Diaspar 3 The main setting. An advanced city of ten million people, 1 billion years in the future. Matter-energy conversion technology creates everything the people need. As far as its citizens know, it is the last city on Earth. Novel takes place in Diaspar pg. 3-99; 176-216; 269-302.
Lys 103 The only community of people on Earth outside of Diaspar. In many ways Diaspar's polar opposite. Its people are telepathic, but mortal. The land is essentially a collection of small villages. Lys possesses great technological knowledge, but avoids excessive reliance on technology and lives in a very natural (although designed) setting. The village in Lys that Alvin first encounters, and where he spends most of his time, is Airlee, which only has a few hundred inhabitants. Novel takes place in Lys pg. 103-175; 217-232; 303-306.
Shalmirane 145 Believed to be the ancient site of Earth's last battle with the Invaders. Located in mountains next to or within Lys. Shalmirane is located in what appears to be a very large crater, with a lake at the bottom. It is the place where the last follower of the Master and his robot hold vigil. Pg. 145-166. Also seen in a computer simulation, pg. 201-202.
Seven Suns 239 A distant, artificial collection of seven stars in close proximity, each with many planets. It was once the seat of government for the galactic Empire. When Alvin and Hilvar journey there, they find the planets all abandoned. They visit:
1.) a lifeless planet with a gigantic monument to the Master (perhaps inspired by Sharon, Vermont);
2.) a planet overgrown with vegetation and wildlife growing out of control;
3.) an airless moon which has the remnants of a giant pen from which a now departed slow-moving plant creature escaped; and 4.) a planet with many domes which issue a telepathic warning to anybody who approaches them. Pg. 239-268.


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Web page created 27 January 2001.