They Shall Have Stars

James Blish
They Shall Have Stars Cover

They Shall Have Stars (Cities in Flight, #1)


James Blish's Getting Along was one of the few outstanding pieces in Harlan Ellison's 1972 anthology Again, Dangerous Visions. I was so impressed with the quality and style of Blish's writing that I got Cities in Flight, an omnibus of four short novels, the first being They Shall Have Stars.

I initially found it a little hard to get into. The writing is good, but at first I could only see the fragments, from the points of view of various characters both on Earth and on Jupiter, without seeing the whole picture. After it started to come together, I finished the second half in one sitting.

First published in 1956, this book doesn't seem dated. Of course there are some things that couldn't have been predicted, such as the demise of the Soviet Union. A factor in the book is the power of the USSR and the expectation that it will overwhelm the west.

The science is hard in this science fiction, including technical explanations and fomulae, for the two technological advances that presumable lead to the next three books in the series. They are the discovery of anti-aging medicine and anti-gravity technology, which will make interstellar travel feasible.