Sunday, 31 March 2013


James Blish's Earthman, Come Home (IN Cities In Flight, London, 1981) is narrated entirely from the point of view (POV) of John Amalfi, Mayor of the flying city of New York. However, when the city manager, Mark Hazleton, permanently resigns/retires from starfaring by using the standard formula, " '- I want off' " (p. 386), the text lists several responses that Amalfi could have made before informing us that:

" one of these things entered his mind." (p. 388)

And also:

"...allowing the city manager to back down did not even occur to Amalfi..." (p. 387)

So someone else, an omniscient narrator, is informing us not only of what Amalfi said but also of those other things that he did not say and did not even think - unless the POV here is that of Amalfi not at that time but at some later date when he had had time to reflect back on the conversation?

The concluding paragraph of Blish's A Clash Of Cymbals (London, 1959), Chapter 4, p. 102, has the joint POV of two children, Web and Estelle. However, the paragraph mainly informs us that the children never heard a difficult conversation between Amalfi and Web's grandfather, Hazleton, and did not understand why the recall of Web's grandmother, Dee, from the planet He had to mean their recall also. The paragraph does tell us how the children felt and, of course, they did know that they did not understand their recall but we are also told of the conversation that they never heard so here the omniscient narrator is at work.

When the characters do return to He for the flight to the Metagalactic Centre, Estelle is not allowed to take her alien pet (a touch of Heinlein). This:

"...struck [Amalfi] as a strange thing to be weeping about.

"He did not know that she was weeping for the passing of her childhood; but then, neither did she." (p. 162)

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