Imagined Cities #2

John Wyndham, The Chrysalids, 1955 – The modern city as a ruin, in a post apocalyptic future – the city as modernity, progress, civilisation.

‘When I was quite small, I would sometimes dream of a city,  which was strange because it began before I even knew what a city was. But this city, clustered on the curve of a big blue bay, would come into my mind. I could see the streets, and the buildings that lined them, the waterfront, even boats in the harbour; yet waking, I had never seen the sea, or a boat.

And the buildings were quite unlike any I knew. The traffic in the streets was strange, carts running with no horses to pull them; and sometimes there were things in the sky, shiny fish shaped things that certainly were not birds.

Most often I would see this wonderful place by daylight, but occasionally it was by night when the lights lay like strings of glow worms along the the shore, and a few of them seemed to be sparks drifting on the water, or in the air.

It was a beautiful, fascinating place, and once, when I was still young enough to know no better, I asked my eldest sister, Mary, where this lovely city could be. She shook her head and told me there was no such place, not now. But perhaps, she suggested, I could somehow be dreaming about times long ago.’

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