Friday, 15 March 2013

Anderson-Blish Interaction

For a Poul Anderson fan who is also a James Blish fan, rereading Anderson's "Call Me Joe," set on Jupiter and Jupiter V, automatically led to rereading the "Jupiter V" chapters of Blish's They Shall Have Stars for comparison. This in turn led to rereading the "New York" chapters and "Washington" sections of They Shall Have Stars and the opening chapters of The Triumph Of Time so I am publishing some posts on the James Blish Appreciation blog.

The two novels mentioned are the opening and closing volumes of Blish's main future history which, considerably shorter than Anderson's History of Technic Civilization, is complete, with a beginning, a middle and an end, in just four volumes.

I recently posted remarks about Anderson's two intergalactic novels, Tau Zero and World Without Stars. Blish's equivalent, The Triumph Of Time, is set entirely outside the home galaxy. The flying city of New York has colonized the planet of New Earth in the Greater Magellanic Cloud and, from there, the New Earthmen, as they have become, have colonized other planets in the Cloud.

The moving planet of He leaves the Milky Way, crosses intergalactic space, passes through the Andromeda galaxy, then sets out to return to the Milky Way, passing through M-33 and both Magellanic Clouds en route. Meeting the New Earthmen, who advise them to avoid the home galaxy, now ruled by a new non-human empire, they propose to seek elsewhere for a solution to the problem that they had discovered in intergalactic space, " 'Nothing less...than the imminent coming to an end of time itself.' " (Blish, Cities In Flight, London, 1981, p. 505)

Mayor John Amalfi suggests making the million light year journey to NGC 6822 but a Hevian replies that:

" '...our ultimate destination must be the center of the metagalaxy, the hub of all the galaxies of space-time.'" (p. 508)

Only there can they hope to " '...escape or to modify the end...' " (p. 508)

Like World Without Stars, The Triumph Of Time postulates a faster than light means of intergalactic travel. Like Tau Zero, it presents human beings who survive until, then decide how to respond to, the end of the universe.

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