Saturday, 2 June 2012

Cities In Flight - James Blish

Exploration has stagnated. In order to overcome this a few things have to happen. Better technology needs to be discovered and the human life needs to be expanded. The problem is that there are politicians who are against seeing this happen as it could also spell the end of Western society. The result is that years down the line whole cities are escaping into space to get away from the grip of Earth leaders. Manhattan is one such city which has left the Earth and now makes it's living from mining for planets that don't have the technology. Unfortunately times aren't always good and New York finds itself in some sticky situations which the Mayor must get them out of in order to protect the city at all costs.

I read this a few weeks ago and this is actually May's Sci Fi book. A wee bit late in the review and to be honest I have a fair few to catch up with.

The novel is split up into several sections and it turns out most of these sections were published individually during the 1950's. I don't think they were published altogether until the 1970's. The first two sections are different from the rest. The first one is set in out present time (which would have been the future to Blish). It's all very sciencey and political as one politition is trying to bring about space flight. I don't actually know why he is doing it. Something to do with the fall of the West which he believes to be inevitable. Possibly he thinks that this will save a small aspect of it but I wasn't to clear on that. As I said it is sciencey and political which do sometimes go hand in hand with sci fi. Especially with classic sci fi. I don't mind that and have in fact been known to very much enjoy it. I do need just a glimmer of human interest though. No matter how much the author tried with the characters in this section it just wasn't there. So it is maybe a good thing that none of these characters made an appearance later on. I am glad that I didn't invest anything in them because I would have been very annoyed by their lack of appearance again even if this section was published earlier than the rest.

The second section had that human interest aspect. I was about to give up with the book so I greatly welcomed it and finally began enjoying it. This one was written from the point of view of a young boy who ends up on one of those flying cities. It's there that we learn about city society and how Earth police hate them. They call themselves hobos who look for work where they can get it then move on again. Hard to imagine Manhattan as a hobo but it was an interesting plot line. Sadly the boy disappears from the story and the remaining sections are from the point of view of Manhattan's mayor. Interesting at first but as the sections became formulaic I became bored and was glad when I had finished.

If you like your sci fi sciencey and don't mind lack of human interest or repetativeness then you will like this. It was a well written book I just found it a little dull. The parts I really liked just weren't long enough for me. I would have happily read that one section on it's own.

As I have said already this was for the sci fi challenge which is hosted by Ellie of Curiosity Killed The Bookworm. You can find what others read here.

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