Contextualizing the contemporary Western situation with some simple but effective bits of far-future imagination, Liu keeps things relevant by understanding the idea that problems will always exist, and thus what matters is our approach—our attitude—toward them.
Pro: (…) The ending is heartwarming because, after all that time, Mia finally has the right words–and they’re noble, inspiring words.At the large-scale level, it’s a great description of human evolution and transformation into a galaxy-spanning civilization–if civilization is even the right word for something so grand.
Con: There’s little action and no tension in the story, which mostly consists of a recitation of events that transpired.
While this story doesn’t seem to be as free from a sort of historical dualism (which leads to a tincture of human self-loathing which is mostly balanced by an explicit appreciation of our “wondrous” quality) as it is from the human vs. nature dualism that it explicitly disavows and does seem like yet another climate change story at first, it does move on to bigger and better things which do involve mega-engineering and a bit of “gosh wow” and is a good execution of the tried-and-true and fitting “time lapse” structure.
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Pro: The narrator really does want to do something creative. He sings, he draws, and he despairs, because he knows he has no future. Paulo saves him, and he brings New York to life and defeats a monster with it.
Con: It’s hard to consistently suspend disbelief for this one. Swinging bridges and neighborhoods into action against a Cthulhu-like creature is hard to credit.
“The City Born Great” captures the personality of New York City wonderfully, its rough edges, and its unbreakable spirit. The places we live are imbued with the personality of their citizens, and full of quirks all their own. As someone who lived in Jersey and worked in NYC for several years, I fully admit this story had me wanting to punch the air and yell, “Hell, yeah! No cosmic horror is taking my city down!”