Sunday, December 31, 2017

James Blish is gonna help us party like it's "Year 2018!"

Here's an appropriate vintage sci-fi paperback for this rockin' New Year's Eve, as we make the transition from 2017 to 2018...

  • Title: Year 2018!
  • Cover blurb: "An Original Science Fiction Novel — One Man's Bridge to Eternity!"
  • Author: James Blish (1921-1975), who is perhaps best known for his novelizations of Star Trek episodes and for the original Star Trek novel Spock Must Die! (He liked exclamation points, apparently.)
  • Cover illustrator: Richard M. Powers (1921-1996)
  • Publisher: Avon (T-193)
  • Date of this edition: 1957
  • Book's first publication: 1956, in the UK, under the title They Shall Have Stars. (See information below on this series.)
  • Price: 35 cents
  • Pages: 159
  • Format: Paperback
  • Back-cover blurb: "IN THE YEAR 2018 ... Man undertook the most amazing project in human history — A BRIDGE ON JUPITER! In that frozen, raging, gaseous Hell, the Spacemen built a colossal, monstrous bridge out of sheer Ice IV — 30 miles high, 8 miles wide, and ever growing in its incredible length. What was the purpose of this fantastic project? What was the secret that lurked behind the stars? Only one man knew — SENATOR WAGONER of Alaska, who controlled the U.S. Space Flight Corps — and possessed the most tormenting knowledge in the Universe!"
  • A senator from Alaska... A dubious bridge... Indeed. There are some amusing Gravina Island Bridge parallels.
  • What is Ice IV? There are, apparently, 17 known solid crystalline phases of water, and they are designated by Roman numberals. Ice IV is a fully hydrogen-disordered, metastable phase of ice.
  • What does that mean? I have no idea.
  • Book dedication: To Frederik Pohl
  • First sentence (following a J. Robert Oppenheimer quote): "The shadows flickered on the walls to his left and right, just inside the edges of his vision, like shapes stepping quickly back into invisible doorways."
  • Last sentence of the main novel: "After a while, the man and the woman went to the window, and looked past the discarded bulk of Jupiter at the near horizon, where there had always been visible a few stars."
  • Last sentence of the coda: "As usual, MacHinery was wrong."
  • Random paragraph from middle: "The trailer city was far bigger than any nearby town except Passaic. It included a score of supermarkets, all going full blast even in the middle of the night, and about as many coin-in-slot laundries, equally wide open. There were at least a hundred public baths, and close to 360 public toilets. Paige counted ten cafeterias, and twice that many hamburger stands and one-arm joints, each of the stands no less than a hundred feet long; at one of these he stopped long enough to buy a 'Texas wiener' nearly as long as his forearm, covered with mustard, meat sauce, sauerkraut, corn relish, and piccalilli. There were ten highly conspicuous hospital tents, too — and after eating the Texas wiener Paige though he knew why — the smallest of them perfectly capable of housing a one-ring circus."
  • That's a ridiculous Texas wiener: Yes. I think that's the author's point.
  • Goodreads rating: 3.79 stars out of 5.
  • Goodreads review by "Manny" from November 9, 2016: "This little-known dystopian novel, first published in 1956, is, as the title suggests, set in the US of 2018. Under severe external threat, the country has descended into paranoia and become a Stalinist dictatorship which in practice is run by Francis X. MacHinery, the head of the FBI. The majority of American's citizens seek refuge from an unbearable reality in bizarre fundamentalist religions. How do science-fiction writers come up with these weird ideas?"
  • The series: This is #1 in Blish's Cities in Flight series. I found several suggestions and recommendations, though, to not read this book first. According to one forum, "the books are reasonably disconnected and can mostly be read in isolation. The first book is deep background from the pre-spaceflight era and may even be omitted if you're not interested in that kind of thing."
  • So, what's up with the ice bridge? You'll have to read the book.
  • Does Jupiter survive? You'll have to read the book.

No comments:

Post a Comment