Sunday, 31 March 2013

Blish's Future Histories

James Blish's several short future history series have different dramatic culminations.

"This Earth Of Hours": conflict between the Terrestrial Matriarchy and the Central Empire;

Mission To The Heart Stars: conflict between the UN/Angels alliance and the Heart Stars;

The Seedling Stars: colonisation of the galaxy by Adapted Men;

Cities In Flight: creation of new universes after the matter-anti-matter collision;

"A Style In Treason": conflict between High Earth and the Green Exarchy;

Midsummer Century: consciousness artificially preserved and enhanced in successive civilisations on Earth;

The Quincunx Of Time: colonisation of other galaxies by an expanding utopian civilisation.

The last three works are set in different periods of a single timeline. Thus, the number of future histories here is five. There are three hostile interstellar empires, counterparts of the Star Trek Klingons or of Poul Anderson's Merseians, but Blish leaves these conflicts unresolved because of the time scales involved.

Without straining language too severely, I have summarised in such a way that four key themes have been distilled: conflict; colonisation; creation; consciousness. Neat.

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