Sunday, 19 August 2012

Haertel Scholium Coda Contents

Earlier, Shorter Versions
"A Case Of Conscience": A Case Of Conscience.
"Beep": The Quincunx Of Time.
"A Hero's Life": "A Style In Treason."

Connected Works
 "No Jokes On Mars" connects with Welcome To Mars.
"A Dusk Of Idols": The Star Dwellers.
"And Some Were Savages": "This Earth Of Hours."

One Other
"How Beautiful With Banners" was originally to have referred to Martian dune cats.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Six Volumes

My proposed "Eight Volumes" for James Blish's interconnected works do not make sense for publishing because three of the volumes would be very short. However, six would be practicable, starting with The Galactic Cluster Trilogy And Other Works:

Part One, Some Early Blish;
Part Two, The Galactic Cluster Trilogy;
Part Three, The Haertel Scholium Coda.

This single opening volume would form a triad with:

The Jack Loftus Novels;
After Such Knowledge.

A second triad would be:

The Seedling Stars;
Cities In Flight;
The Quincunx Tetralogy.

After Such Knowledge is a Trilogy overlapping by one volume with the "Haertel Scholium," works referring to or connected with the character Adolph Haertel or his interstellar drive. The "Early Blish" stories are not part of this Scholium but are precursors to it.

The second triad moves away from Haertel but returns to him in its concluding volume which synthesizes the Dirac transmitter, introduced in Cities In Flight, with the Haertel overdrive, introduced in "Common Time," the opening story of Galactic Cluster. Thus, these coherent and interconnected works deserve to be republished in uniform editions.

Earthman, Come Home

This is an evocative passage from the Prologue to James Blish's Earthman, Come Home (London, 1963):

"Thus the Earth police held their jurisdiction, but the hegemony of Earth was weak, for the most part. There were many corners of the galaxy which knew Earth only as a legend, a green myth floating unknown thousands of parsecs away in space, known and ineluctable thousands of years away in history. Some of them remembered much more vividly the now-broken tyranny of Vega, and did not know - some of them never had known - even the name of the little planet that had broken that tyranny." (p. 13)

The passage evokes thousands of years of galactic history with many intelligent races ruled at a distance first by Vega, then by Earth. However, other parts of the Cities In Flight Tetralogy suggest a smaller spatiotemporal scenario. Vega is said to have ruled most of this galactic quadrant, not all of the galaxy. Earthmen are said to rule Arm II. The text of Earthman, Come Home tells us that:

"Only eleven non-human civilizations had been discovered, and, of these, only the Lyrans and the Myrdians had any brains to speak of (unless one counted the Vegans; Earthmen did not think of them as human, but all non-human cultures did; anyhow, they were extinct as a civilization)." (p. 89)

(John Amalfi, Mayor of New York, is told that he is atypical enough to pass as a Vegan so they must be quite humanoid but we do not see any of these non-human races. Myrdians are not humanoid. An Okie city must transport "Dr Beetle," real name unpronounceable, in a tank.)

Finally, the concluding Volume of the Tetralogy ends the universe in 4004 (later revised to 4104) but Earthman rule begins in 2522 and is assimilated by another interstellar power, the Web of Hercules, in 4000 so that Earthmen rule for less than one and a half millennia.

That is a pity because the text, like the Prologue, of Earthman, Come Home does refer to thousands of years, which would seem to be necessary for some of the events to occur. That evocative passage from the Prologue presents an intriguing future historical perspective even though it differs in some respects from the fictitious history presented in the rest of the series.