Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Cities In Flight, Volume II

How well does the juvenile novel A Life For The Stars fit into James Blish's Cities In Flight? The latter was already complete as the single volume Okie series plus two novels as prequel and sequel. Blish said in conversation that A Life For The Stars resulted from laziness. Asked for a juvenile science fiction novel, he used the established Okie background instead of creating a new one. Anyone reading the Tetralogy in chronological order of fictitious events goes from the sophisticated adult novel, They Shall Have Stars, to this simpler juvenile one.

I will comment further when I have reread Volume II. However, I am currently rereading Vol III, Earthman, Come Home. This volume opens with the Utopia-Gort affair. Because of that affair, New York, needing to evade the Earth police, leaves known space (to use a phrase) and crosses the Rift. When the city has returned from the Rift, the germanium currency has collapsed and that is the beginning of the end of Okie culture. The concluding story in Earthman is an aftermath.

Thus, the Utopia-Gort affair turns out to have been the city's last exploit within Okie civilisation before its collapse. Earthman mentions some previous incidents:

deFord shot on Epoch;
the previous astronomer killed on St Rita's;
Hazleton's bad experience on Thor V.

Nevertheless, it is good to have this extra volume (II) that describes two earlier planetary contacts and gives some account of life in the city.

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