I read a novel written in English when I was a teenager in the 1970s about a society that lives in an enclosed city which controls the population. I can't remember the name of the story or the city.

People are reproduced by machines in the city that have the DNA of everybody who can be born. No natural babies are born.

One in a while, a person is born who rebels against their society and tries to leave the city. There are only a few ways to exit through the outside wall of the city. In the story the city reveals that each time it produces a rebel they are produced from same DNA.

This story is about one of these rebels and how he escapes.

I can't remember what happens when he escapes, but I think it is through a window high up in a wall. I can't remember what the world is like outside of the city.

  • 1
    Hi there! :) there's already some good info in there, but maybe you could take a look at these guidelines on story-ID, see if that triggers any more memories you could edit in? For instance, when were you a teenager? 60s, 80s, five years ago? Was it a novel or a short story? If the latter, was it part of an anthology? Do you remember what the cover looked like? Was it written in English, was it a translation? Stuff like that, to increase the chances of a successful identification. Cheers!
    – Jenayah
    Sep 24, 2018 at 18:39
  • 13
    "The Matrix - City Edition"
    – motoDrizzt
    Sep 24, 2018 at 18:59
  • 6
    This also sounds exactly like the Paranoia RPG system
    – OganM
    Sep 24, 2018 at 20:32
  • 2
    Logan's Run? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logan%27s_Run
    – Kami
    Sep 25, 2018 at 8:12
  • 1
    @motoDrizzt More like "The Matrix - Dark City edition" :D
    – walen
    Sep 25, 2018 at 10:59

3 Answers 3


I would think you are looking for The City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke

From Wikipedia:

The City and the Stars is a science fiction novel by British writer Arthur C. Clarke, published in 1956. This novel is a complete rewrite of his earlier Against the Fall of Night, which was Clarke's first novel, and was published in Startling Stories magazine in 1948, after John W. Campbell, Jr., editor of Astounding Science-Fiction, had rejected it, according to Clarke..


The City and the Stars takes place one billion years in the future, in the city of Diaspar. By this time, the Earth is so old that the oceans have gone and humanity has all but left. As far as the people of Diaspar know, theirs is the only city left on the planet.

The city of Diaspar is completely enclosed. Nobody has come in or left the city for as long as anybody can remember, and everybody in Diaspar has an instinctive insular conservatism. The story behind this fear of venturing outside the city tells of a race of ruthless invaders which beat humanity back from the stars to Earth, and then made a deal that humanity could live—if they never left the planet.

In Diaspar, the entire city is run by the Central Computer. Not only is the city repaired by machines, but the people themselves are created by the machines as well. The computer creates bodies for the people of Diaspar to live in and stores their minds in its memory at the end of their lives. At any time, only a small number of these people are actually living in Diaspar; the rest are retained in the computer's memory banks.

All the currently existent people of Diaspar have had past "lives" within Diaspar except one person—Alvin, the main character of this story. He is one of only a very small number of "Uniques", different from everybody else in Diaspar, not only because he does not have any past lives to remember, but because instead of fearing the outside, he feels compelled to leave. Alvin has just come to the age where he is considered grown up, and is putting all his energies into trying to find a way out.

Eventually, a character called Khedron the Jester helps Alvin use the central computer to find a way out of the city of Diaspar. This involves the discovery that in the remote past, Diaspar was linked to other cities by an underground transport system. This system still exists although its terminal was covered over and sealed with only a secret entrance left.

  • 6
    My first thought as well, +1 Sep 24, 2018 at 20:10
  • 4
    Interesting story that I'll never read. Can we have an additional spoiler section where you tell us more about the plot and the ending? :-)
    – motoDrizzt
    Sep 26, 2018 at 7:34
  • 1
    @motoDrizzt There's an awful lot more of the story after my quotes. I only did enough to match up with the querent's memories - if you really wanna know more you'll have to Google cos I found what I did was kinda hard with an underpowered smartphone
    – Danny Mc G
    Sep 26, 2018 at 10:54
  • sounds very similar to Logan's Run. Except in LR the protagonist is sent BY the central computer to find out where all the "runners" (rebels) are going and destroy them. Nov 8, 2019 at 20:34

I would add this as a comment to Danny3414's answer but I am not quite there in reputation points. The story has appeared in multiple forms. The original title was "Against the Fall of Night" and there's a wikipedia article under that name as well:

Against the Fall of Night is a science fiction novel by British writer Arthur C. Clarke. Originally appearing as a novella in the November, 1948 issue of the magazine Startling Stories, it was revised and expanded in 1951 and published in book form in 1953 by Gnome Press. It was later expanded and revised again and published in 1956 as The City and the Stars. A later edition includes another of Clarke's early works and is titled The Lion of Comarre and Against the Fall of Night. In 1990, with Clarke's approval, Gregory Benford wrote a sequel titled Beyond the Fall of Night, which continues the story arc of the 1953 novel. It is generally printed with the original novel as a single volume.

  • 3
    Actually, it's already included in Danny's answer, This novel is a complete rewrite of his earlier Against the Fall of Night, which was Clarke's first novel, and was published in Startling Stories magazine in 1948, after John W. Campbell, Jr., editor of Astounding Science-Fiction, had rejected it, according to Clarke (it was edited in after someone else made the same comment, IIRC). I'll admit, it being in a blockquote isn't necessarily the formatting choice I'd have gone for.
    – Jenayah
    Sep 25, 2018 at 18:50

This seems very similar to the anime/manga called Ergo Proxy in the aspects relating to futuristic artificial world created by robots or AI. The humans and robots co-exist together along with immigrants who try to get some sort of acceptance or they are expelled.

  • 7
    It might be similar, but the author certainly didn't read it as a teenager in the 1970s.
    – Cubic
    Sep 25, 2018 at 14:16

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