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Cities in Flight Hardcover – 1 Mar 2000

3.9 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 590 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook Press; Reissue edition (Mar. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585670081
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585670086
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.1 x 5.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,750,463 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

One of the grandest, and certainly one of the best written, of wide-screen space operas, Blish's Cities in Flight takes us from the collapse of American civilisation at the moment of its greatest scientific success to its final transfiguration at a moment of cosmic disaster. New York, enclosed in a vast dome, and powered by anti-gravity and hyper- drive, wanders among the stars, a labourer for hire, and yet also the seed of humanity's brief ascendancy in a hostile galaxy. This is the story of people as well as vast historical moments-- of Wagoner, the Senator who gives his life and good name for humanity's future; Chris, the naive youngster to whom New York gives everything, and from whom it will take everything away; and above all John Amalfi, who starts as Mayor of New York and ends up as a sort of god. And along the way, we meet some of the strangest of the shapes human society takes among the stars. Crackling with ideas about the progress of history, and passionate in its evocation of the deep reaches of time and space, Blish's sequence is intelligent and visionary, a true classic of the genre. --Roz Kaveney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'This is the real heady wine of science fiction -- exciting, intelligent galaxy-spanning stuff that these days would require six brick-thick volumes' -- Terry Pratchett 'An outrageous imaginative coup ... Crammed with high adventure yet illuminated by a searching intelligence, this four-part epic completely reinvented the traditions of space opera' -- Paul J. McAuley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is 4 novels, originally published independently( from the late 50s to early 60s), the first 2 being self-contained, although serving as prequels (potentially, originally, but explicitly here, in this edition). These are: 'They shall have stars' (also published as 'Year 2018'), 'a Life for the Stars', ' Earthman come home', and ' a Clash of Cymbals'. They were originally published out of sequence, although the fourth novel, a Clash of Cymbals, was explicitly a follow up to 'Earthman, Come Home'.

The third novel, 'Earthman come home', is the place to start and, frankly, stop if you don't like it, or even if you do, but find it enough to be going on with - I read it three times, over many years, before I was aware of the others. Don't look for any refinements of style - in fact, it's wincingly awful sometimes. Blish is definitely 50s cold war American comic book in outlook and depth of characterisation, but that has it's attractions for me - simplicity and focus on a story, and an easy read. I read all his books I could find when I was younger, for all that. I think Blish, like many of the early SF pioneers, became a regular contributor of scripts to Star Trek. Anyway, 'Earthman, Come Home' is an amusing flight of fancy. Earthmen had long ago spread throughout the home galaxy. A technology (spindizzy drives) had been developed, which enabled entire cities to lift into space ( Blish obviously had a background in engineering or physics - there's a sprinkling of plausible, if dated, technological language). Earth's cities had long ago been deserted by its cities, which traveled the galaxy looking for work amongst the settled planets, contracting for work as needed.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have given this book a 5 rating because the space opera is very good, though the science in some cases is very suspect and boring and was not needed for the main story. It is also a book of its time, a number of writers were hinting about the west becoming more like Russia as it coped with the cold war etc. Meaning that both sides would outwardly look the same and the military and government paramilitary organisations would regulate all.
The book appeared in the shops to the best of my knowledge in the sixties, it is over 40 years since I first read it, and was one of the first space opera books that got under my skin. Migrant for hire workers travelling the galaxy to find work, this along with all the prejudices and exploitation and misunderstandings that our earth bound migrant workers suffer from provides plenty of food for thought in the 21st century. I think this book has a place in science fiction history and should be read bearing that in mind.
Regards
Robin
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Format: Paperback
'Cities in Flight' by James Blish is collection of his four short novels that were written in period of 15 years in the 50's and 60's.

At the beginning of 21st century humankind discovered the possibilities to control gravity which enabled interstellar travel. Also, due to development of medicine, powerful drugs were invented that prolonged human life to thousands years or even more.

As it could be expected, lot of people went to space looking for promised land, establishing human colonies all across the universe. On the other hand, Earth started slowly decaying, wars and chaos erupted and lasted for several centuries. As solution that will provide better life for Earth citizens, the spindizzies were invented. These machines which are able to control gravity were mounted under the cities enabling whole shielded cities to leave Earth.

First story of Blish collection is "They Shall Have Stars" which is telling the story how the original discoveries happened - it's year 2013 and on Earth war is still raging between West and the East, although there are no real difference between war parties, both trying to impose complete control over their population. American senator Bliss Wagoner is working on the major construction project on Jupiter and due to his research, whole humankind future will be changed...

The second story "A Life for the Stars" is happening several centuries after the first, when humans discovered powerful gravitronpolarity generator, colloquially called "spindizzy", enabling whole cities to abandon Earth in search for better life somewhere else among the stars. The main character called Chris deFord is one man who is also departing Earth when Scranton, one of the last remaining cities on Earth, will take flight...
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Format: Paperback
As a lover of older sci fi, i have to say that this is a fantastic book. Looking at it now, i can see how it may have influenced generations of sci fi authors, concepts such as aikira, and the ship in 'close encounters' are startling realisations of some of the smaller implications of this groundbreaking book. Just the concept of turning a city into a spaceship is awesome. The cultures mentioned in this book are also well observed, and with the fall of the USSR, but the rise of big brother, how far is earth from his predicted future :) Classic and imagination provoking.
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