Friday, 5 April 2013

In The Coal Sack Nebula

In James Blish's The Star Dwellers (London, 1979), the gas in the interior of the Coal Sack nebula has condensed into a cluster of new stars so close together that the centre is a single mass of light. Streamers of gas and dust move around within the cluster before being drawn into yet more newly forming stars.

The cluster contains a hierarchy of increasingly complex artificial structures related to the moving patterns to be seen within one of the spherical energy beings called Angels. Jack Loftus expects the centre of the cluster to contain a living temple of gas, dust, energy and stars but the narrator warns us that Jack does not know because the Angels guard their secrets "...then as now..." (p. 88).

The Angels in the Coal Sack communicate instantaneously with others "...throughout the galaxy and throughout the universe..." (Mission To The Heart Stars, London, 1980, p. 127). Their discussion is "Like sparks in a column of smoke..." (p. 127).

This is perhaps the sublimest of the concepts in Blish's works.

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