?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Marilee J. Layman

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
12:22 am: Cities in Flight by James Blish

My copy of this is the first omnibus from 1970 -- my first book from SFBC -- and I really loved it back then when I was 15. Now? Too lecture-laden and very boring. All of us who read it back then don't like it now and I was the only one in the 12-person group who actually finished it.

There's four short novels and they are in chronological order in the omnibus, but they weren't written in that order. The first book isn't bad, and they discover anti-gravity and the machines that do it are called "spindizzies"; they also discover an anti-agathic med so people can live as long as they have the meds and don't get killed. The first colonists go out. At this time, the Believers are gathering to be saved.

Earth loses the spindizzy and then finds it again and the next three books are about what happens to New York, New York when they take off. They planned to do work for people on planets, but that doesn't turn out well, and then they have to fight back a fundamentalist religious group -- the Web of Hercules -- before the high-level city people die and make new universes. They think.

It's rare for us to agree at this level. The people who didn't finish the book couldn't stand reading more (books were thrown) and I finished it but didn't like it any better.

(Just imagine the jokes and laughs we had with Believers and the Web of Hercules on May 21st!)

Tags:

Comments

[User Picture]
From:ritaxis
Date:May 22nd, 2011 05:58 am (UTC)
(Link)
Those were my favorite books when I was eleven. I'm afraid to re-read them.
[User Picture]
From:julesjones
Date:May 22nd, 2011 08:04 am (UTC)
(Link)
My advice is don't, or at least stick to the first novel. They were also amongst my favourite books when I was in my early teens, and I still enjoyed them even when I bought my own omnibus in my twenties, but I had much the same reaction as Marilee when I re-read the omnibus sometime in the last couple of years.
[User Picture]
From:mjlayman
Date:May 22nd, 2011 07:10 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I know, too bad, isn't it?
[User Picture]
From:julesjones
Date:May 22nd, 2011 08:46 pm (UTC)
(Link)
It's a shame, because those books *were* good for the right audience. We're just not the right audience any more, and I don't think the current crop of teenagers would connect with them either. Writing styles have moved on since then.
[User Picture]
From:mjlayman
Date:May 22nd, 2011 07:06 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Well, I've skimmed the other comments, and it looks like you probably shouldn't.
[User Picture]
From:serge_lj
Date:May 22nd, 2011 12:31 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I'd never read the stories, but it sounds like I'd better not.
[User Picture]
From:mjlayman
Date:May 22nd, 2011 07:07 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Yeah, it's not just that they're old, we don't seem to like that kind of writing anymore.
[User Picture]
From:serge_lj
Date:May 22nd, 2011 07:54 pm (UTC)
(Link)
One old-time writer I've been thinking of revisiting is Clifford Simak. I think I could put myself in the era's frame of mind and forgive some clumsiness that doesn't fly anymore, but I'm not sure, thus the hesitation.
[User Picture]
From:mjlayman
Date:May 22nd, 2011 08:09 pm (UTC)
(Link)
We read his City but I was the only one who still liked it.
[User Picture]
From:serge_lj
Date:May 22nd, 2011 09:04 pm (UTC)
(Link)
The premise IS unbelievable, and the science, but sometimes I can forgive that if the tale is a good one. The novel I'm curious about rereading is "The Way Station".
[User Picture]
From:hairmonger
Date:May 22nd, 2011 09:15 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I've never come across The Way Station, but I still like all the Simak I liked thirty or forty years ago.

Mary Anne in Kentucky
[User Picture]
From:serge_lj
Date:May 22nd, 2011 11:05 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Glad to hear. By the way, I once had the pleasure of meeting Simak, and he came across exactly the way I expected him to from his stories. And if I may... I recommend you look up Gardner Dozois's "Counterfactual", an alternate-History short story whose main character is a young Simak.
[User Picture]
From:mjlayman
Date:May 23rd, 2011 06:16 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I was going to look up my post on City, but I started LJ on January 2006 and we read it June 2005.
[User Picture]
From:mjlayman
Date:May 22nd, 2011 10:13 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I haven't read that recently, but I definitely liked it. In fact, I have an idea to make a beaded piece that would show it. I don't know when I'll get to that piece on the list, though. My hand are tremoring more.
[User Picture]
From:serge_lj
Date:May 22nd, 2011 11:07 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Back in the early-1980s, Simak wrote a short story about what happened to the Websters's robot after everybody was gone. Very nice.
[User Picture]
From:fledgist
Date:May 22nd, 2011 02:06 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I understand perfectly what you mean. I reread the Cities in Flight novels years after first reading them in the seventies, and they stunk. The first novel works, the others mostly don't (aside from a couple of great lines scattered here and there).
[User Picture]
From:mjlayman
Date:May 22nd, 2011 07:08 pm (UTC)
(Link)
It's too bad that they don't -- I like having old books that are still good.
Powered by LiveJournal.com