SF Masterworks Group discussion

SF Masterworks #1-10 > #03 - Cities in Flight by James Blish

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

James Blish's masterwork, origionally published in four volumes, explores a future built on two crucial discoveries: antigravity devices - 'spindizzies' - which allow whole cities to be lifted from the Earth to become giant spaceships, and longevity drugs which allow their inhabitants to live for thousands of years. As Earth stagnates, one by one the cities depart to the stars, leading to the establisment of a unique Galactic empire.

message 2: by Simon (new)

Simon (friedegg) | 39 comments I read, not the masterworks edition, but the four books individually that comprise it. Nor did I read them one after another but left a little break in between each volume.

As a series, I found the quality quite variable. My favourite volume was the second: A Life for the Stars. I really enjoyed the story of one man's rise to power from the lowliest of origins. A good way to introduce the concept of the Okie cities too.

The third part, Earthman Come Home, whilst the real meat of the matter, was quite a disappointment for me. Generally quite hard to follow and quite strange how the reader's perspective was always around the edges of the important events and confrontations.

All in all quite good but getting somewhat dated now.

message 3: by Bill (new)

Bill Wellham (stereodeluxe) | 35 comments I am currently struggling with this book. Not because of any difficulty of prose, or complexity of plot; nor is it a bad book. The whole idea just feels so propostrous, that I can't help losing the desire to go on. The characters (city mayors and leaders etc) all seem to have jumped out of an american 1950s movie. It just feels way too old fashioned. I know it was first published in the 50s, but it just feels like 'The 1950s in Space!' Lots of action. It also feels a little 'Doc E Smith' styled at times.

I never give up on a book. I will finish this. I need a little encouragement from someone. Somebody tell me I am wrong, and that I should understand that... blah blah blah.

Anyway...I will try to get past this half way point.

message 4: by Simon (new)

Simon (friedegg) | 39 comments What part are you up to now?

It does quite heavily reflect it's time, too much to make it a real timeless classic in my opinion.

message 5: by Bill (new)

Bill Wellham (stereodeluxe) | 35 comments Amalfi and crew are hunting for the 'brindlestiff' bandit planet, and the scientist who knows about the fueless drive. Stuck on the planet HE with the Hevians.

I do like some old SF, even when the science is all wrong and dated. But this just feels a bit ... I don't know.

message 6: by Simon (last edited May 13, 2010 12:03PM) (new)

Simon (friedegg) | 39 comments Sounds like you're on the third part. That was my least favourite of the quartet. The last part did pick up though.

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