This was a longish short story (or short novella) that I read in an anthology around 1990 (give or take 5 years).

There is an ancient city that is old and tired. People are leaving, there is not much innovation going on anymore. It is in decline.
It is managed (for lack of a better word) by the city Architect who is a tired old man.

Then a new city establishes itself further down the river. It is vibrant and full of youthful elan. The new cities Architect is a lovely young woman. Both architects meet and fall in love. The older city rejuvenates as a result.

Essentially the lives of the Architects mirror the development of the cities.

In this anthology every (or most) stories had a pen and ink drawing illustration. This story had a landscape depicting a river and the city (or both cities) in the distance.

I'm also fairly certain this same anthology had a Keith Laumer Retief story in it ("Diplomat at Arms") and a Jorj X. McKie story (most likely "The Tactful Saboteur") by Frank Herbert.

I'm looking for the title/author of this cities story and if you can identify the anthology itself that would be even better.

  • isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?13871
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 26, 2023 at 13:00
  • @Valorum That doesn't ring any bells. And I'm sure the anthology I read had more than 5 stories in it. 10 to 12 as far as I can recall.
    – Tonny
    Commented Sep 26, 2023 at 13:09
  • Whipping Star was serialised in If, but no Laumer stories nor obvious matches; isfdb.org/cgi-bin/…
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 26, 2023 at 13:09
  • Diplomat-at-Arms has been anthologised a bunch of times, but not with any Herbert stories as far as I can see; isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?80873
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 26, 2023 at 13:11
  • 1
    @Valorum Diplomat-at-arms is in dozens of anthologies. I've got 5 copies in my library (not counting the 2 Dutch and 1 German translations). I drew a blank too when looking for the combination with the Herbert story.
    – Tonny
    Commented Sep 26, 2023 at 13:16

1 Answer 1


Self-answer as the anthology turned up after a 27 year absence.
A friend of mine had borrowed it from me in 1987 and he lost it.
Couple of weeks ago he started clearing out his living room in preparation for a re-model and the book was found stuck behind the big book-case.

The story is "Death of a City" found in the Frank Herbert short-story collection "Eye".

I misremembered some details. There is no Architect but a City Doctor. And it is only the guy. His love-interest is actually a young woman from the city itself.

The McKie story is indeed in the same bundle, but the Retief story obviously is not.

  • Thanks for returning and posting an answer! Commented Feb 14 at 18:47
  • 1
    @OrganicMarble I always try to. Especially if a question got a fair bit of interest back in the day. 2 or 3 times a year i just run through my old and open questions on the various SE sites and see if any need updating.
    – Tonny
    Commented Feb 14 at 18:57

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