Friday, 5 April 2013

Some Details In The Jack Loftus Novels

In James Blish's The Star Dwellers (London, 1979), when Jack Loftus wonders whether Sylvia McCrary had, in similar circumstances, been as scared as he was, we are told:

"Probably not, he decided (completely wrongly)..." (p. 83)

We learn, by reading further, that the comment, "...completely wrongly...," is made not by an omniscient narrator but by a later human historian, who must have been able to read Sylvia's memoirs. A longer novel with multiple viewpoints would have refuted Jack's view of Sylvia not with two interpolated words but with a passage narrated from her point of view - leaving it to the reader to spot the discrepancy between Sylvia's character and Jack's perception of her.

In Blish's better known series, Cities In Flight, entire cities cross interstellar distances. Mission To The Heart Stars (London, 1980) recognizes that a very large vessel would be necessary to make a very long interstellar crossing. To transport just three men from the Solar System to the Heart Stars, a liner for three thousand passengers and crew must be converted so that most of its interior becomes a mere storage area for food and equipment. Blish conveys the eeriness for the three crew members, " being cast away in a deserted ocean liner..." (p. 52).

There are a few more details to note when I track them down but it is now after midnight.

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