Friday, 15 March 2013

Bliss Wagoner

In James Blish's They Shall Have Stars (IN Cities In Flight, London, 1981):

"PRELUDE: Washington," set in the winter of 2013, describes a conversation between Senator Bliss Wagoner and Dr Guiseppi Corsi;

in "INTERMEZZO: Washington," Wagoner reads the report of the investigating sub-committee of the Senate Finance Committee on the Jupiter Project, which includes the questioning of Dr Corsi;

"ENTR'ACTE: Washington" is a letter dated 4th January 2020 from Wagner to Corsi;

in "CHAPTER NINE: New York," Wagoner meets Paige Russell, the viewpoint character of the odd numbered "New York" chapters;

in CHAPTER TEN: Jupiter V," Wagoner and Russell meet Robert Helmuth, view point character of the evenly numbered "Jupiter V" chapters;

in "CODA: Brookhaven National Laboratories (the pile-dump)," Wagoner writes on the wall of his cell on the last day.

Thus, Wagoner is a unifying character like Guion in Poul Anderson's The Shield Of Time. His name suggests Blish and Wagner? Wagner is mentioned in the text (p. 104), Wagoner's sections have musical headings, Blish mentioned Wagner in an Introduction to one of the Cities In Flight volumes and there is an echo of Wagner in an earlier version of the Chronology of Cities In Flight when John Amalfi is said to have died not at the end of the universe but in a hunting accident.

Brian Aldiss wrote that Blish's The Quincunx Of Time really is about the future. Not only is it set in our future but also its characters receive messages from different periods of their future. Similarly, They Shall Have Stars really is about science. Wagoner's letter to Corsi outlines the scientific methods that are used to discover the anti-agathics and antigravity that are the science fictional premises of the novel.

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