Sunday, 17 March 2013

Trilogies And Tetralogies Revisited

 In an earlier post, I suggested The Heart Stars as an appropriate title for an omnibus collection of James Blish's two juvenile science fiction novels featuring the space cadet Jack Loftus, The Star Dwellers and Mission To The Heart Stars.

"A Dusk of Idols," a "Heart Stars" adult short story, refers back to the events of The Star Dwellers although it is not fully consistent with the further prospects as outlined in the second novel. Thus, these three works do not form a linear series but might nevertheless be regarded as loose two-pronged trilogy, just as the same author's After Such Knowledge is also a trilogy although its unity is not linear but thematic.

This enables us to categorize Blish's several interconnected works as:

Three Trilogies
The Galactic Cluster trilogy
The Heart Stars
After Such Knowledge

Three Tetralogies
The Seedling Stars
Cities In Flight
The Quincunx tetralogy

- and a few loose ends to be collected as Haertel Scholium: Coda, among which I had previously listed "A Dusk of Idols."

Listing these works in this way makes it easy to see at a glance where they diverge but also connect. Subatomic particles are described as unvisualizable in Cities In Flight Volume IV but are nevertheless visited in the Galactic Cluster trilogy, part two. Star-dwelling energy beings are called "Angels" in The Star Dwellers whereas supernatural demons (fallen angels) are encountered in After Such Knowledge Volume II where it is even speculated that they might be composed of energy (permanent negative entropy = eternal life?). Satan is dismissed as a superstition in Cities In Flight Volume IV but is a real being in After Such Knowledge Volume II.

They are other connections, mostly discussed earlier.

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