Monday, 1 April 2013

Blish Juveniles II

Of James Blish's five juvenile novels, one is contemporary and four are futuristic science fiction (sf). Of the four sf, one is an "Okie" novel and the others are "Haertel" novels. The "Okie" novel is Volume II of the Okies or Cities In Flight Tetralogy.

Blish's Heartel-related works share common background references without forming a linear sequence. Of the three Haertel juvenile novels, two comprise the Jack Loftus diptych which, together with "A Dusk Of Idols," forms a loose "Heart Stars" trilogy.

The remaining Haertel novel, Welcome To Mars, is an early adventure of no less a figure than Adolph Haertel, making the second of just two personal appearances. (The first was as an older man in the opening story of the short Galactic Cluster trilogy.) I classify Welcome To Mars as the opening work of a loose "Quincunx" tetralogy. This is my classification, not the author's or publisher's, but I find it helpful to fit cross-referring works into a framework.

Haertel discovers antigravity at age seventeen in Welcome To Mars and is mentioned as having made an important discovery at seventeen in The Quincunx Of Time which also refers to two other works. Thus, there is a very loose tetralogy centered on Quincunx but not on the model of Cities In Flight. The latter is a single body of work constructed as a linear series with a definite prologue, middle and conclusion, not merely four discrete, cross-referring works.

Whereas Heinlein's Scribner Juveniles and Asimov's Lucky Starr series stand apart, Blish's sf juveniles are integrated with his other works and might not be thought of as a distinct group.

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