How do you defeat a robot when it is all around you? This is one of the main problems a crew of human astronauts face in Ray Bradbury’s short story “The City”. While visiting the distant planet Taollan, a team of astronauts come across what seems to be an abandoned city. Unbeknownst to the few humans on the planet, the now deserted planet was destroyed by humans many years ago and revenge is coming quick and efficiently. What seems like an abandoned city is actually a very much aware robotic trap left to determine when humans set foot on the planet and to enact a plan of revenge and destruction on mankind.
While the main crux of “The City” is the very familiar concept of revenge, the cold and calculating way Taollanians accomplish their revenge is inspired and creepy, proof that revenge is a dish best served cold. It’s twenty thousand years after the original human/Taollanian war and the Taollanian wish to destroy the humans completely no matter how long it takes or even if they are around to see humankind suffer. This robot story sneaks up and slowly reveals all the hidden intricacies that Bradbury creates. The city is watching the men, figuring out the enemy, all the while the humans think they have no threat present. But the threat is everywhere and it’s all their ancestors fault. “The City” presents a rich, complex story with a twist, which is what readers come to expect from a Bradbury story.
Slowly, pleasurably, the city enjoyed the luxury of dying.