Monday, 25 June 2012

Overlapping Trilogies

Not every trilogy is three long volumes. In the British edition of Galactic Cluster by James Blish, three short stories formed a linear sequence:

"Common Time":
an elderly Adolph Haertel and his faster than light overdrive, strange temporal experiences in the spaceship;

"Nor Iron Bars":
the Arpe drive replacing Haertel's,
a planetary explorer called Hammersmith,
microcosmic telepathy;

an unspecified faster than light drive,
a planet called Hammersmith,
the Dirac communicator,
a mention of "...time phenomena..." which I took to refer to "Common Time." (1)

However, the American edition of Galactic Cluster also included "This Earth Of Hours" which fits in more neatly with the first two stories, thus:

"Common Time" and "Nor Iron Bars": as above;
"This Earth Of Hours": the Standing Wave replacing both earlier interstellar drives, macrocosmic telepathy.

Apart from the single word "Hammersmith," "Beep" is really on its own. However, when it had been novelized as The Quincunx Of Time, it then formed a sequence with two other novels.

Welcome To Mars: the young Haertel discovering antigravity;
The Quincunx Of Time: as "Beep" but now with explicit references to the young Haertel and his overdrive;
Midsummer Century: the transmission of a Dirac message received earlier in The Quincunx Of Time.

Thus, we wind up with two trilogies connected by Haertel. Since another message received in Quincunx refers to "A Style In Treason," the second trilogy can be upgraded to a tetralogy.

Haertel is also mentioned in a juvenile diptych and in one volume of another trilogy (see earlier posts), but "Common Time" and Welcome To Mars are his only two appearances. In any "Complete Works of James Blish":

the tetralogy as above could be collected in a single volume;
Galactic Cluster could be revised to highlight the trilogy, to shed unrelated stories to other collections and to include Haertel Scholium "loose ends," connected stories that do not quite fit into any linear sequence.  

(1) Blish, James, "Beep" IN Blish, J., Galactic Cluster, London, 1963, pp. 93-128 AT p. 103.

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