James Blish was a popular science fiction writer and critic who began his literary career while still in his mid-teens. Not yet out of high school. City Fathers by James Blish: A set of computer systems which run every mechanical system in a city. Cities in Flight deals with long-term space travel. Cities in Flight is an omnibus, first published in , that collects together four novels by James Blish. Those novels themselves were.

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Return to Book Page. When the cities left Earth, they flitht a simple environment for one of constant, sometimes shattering change. The Universe was littered with cultures in every conceivable stage of development.

Earthman, Come Home

Only the iron hand of the germanium-backed economy and occasional interventions by hlish Earth police imposed some jzmes of order on the spaceways. Even John Amalfi never got used t When the cities left Earth, they exchanged a simple environment for one of constant, sometimes shattering change. Even John Amalfi never got used to the life – and he had been mayor of New York for nearly five hundred years now.

Paperbackpages. Published by Arrow first published Cities in Flight 3. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Earthman, Come Homeplease sign up.

Tracy Johnson Yes, it was. It was actually several shorter stories published in Astounding Science Fiction in about These stories were followed by the ones in …more Yes, it was. These stories were followed by the ones in the second novel “A Life for the Stars” and then finally by blizh first one “They shall have the stars”. He was famous for going janes in later years and tinkering with the stories, so they have changed a bit. See bliah question about Earthman, Come Home….

Lists with This Book. Nov 27, Manny rated it really liked it Shelves: This is the best one, and in general one of the best space operas ever written; it was one of my favorite books when I was about Everything is done on a colossal scale that is suggested well, and frequently manages to come across as awe-inspiring rather than silly. The invention of the “spindizzy” surely you’ve heard of it? Crew-members take a drug that keeps them eternally young, so the decade-long trips between the stars don’t seem that bad.

Given that it’s 50s SF, there are of course some jarring mispredictions. When the book was written, the transistor had just been invented, so the Galactic economy uses a germanium standard instead of a gold standard.

Well, that’s what happens to hard SF; cutting edge today, laughably quaint a few years later. I also love the guy who’s constantly playing with his slide-rule. Somehow, despite the fact that the flying cities have extremely sophisticated computers, Blish never realized that the machines could be made small.

And I should warn you that there’s no sex it hadn’t quite been invented yetand only minimal characterization. But what the hell: Blish just keeps upping the stakes in his cosmic poker game, and there’s a great ending.

This is a fun book. View all 20 comments. Jul 22, Fey rated it it was ok Shelves: Earthman, Come Home is set a few hundred years after the previous novel. John Amalfi is still the mayor of the Okie city New York, and is now over years old; thanks to the anti-agathic drugs that all citizens take. New York is running low fligbt supplies and must land and take a job soon, but Amalfi’s only option is to pick one of two warring planets in the closest system, both of which they have been warned off by the earth police.


Amalfi first chooses to land on Utopia, a planet ravaged by nuc Earthman, Come Home is set a few hundred years after the previous novel.

Amalfi first chooses to land on Utopia, a planet ravaged by nuclear attacks. But later chooses to move over to Gort, a planet in the old Hruntan Empire. The Hruntans turn out to have been a bad choice of allies, as they hold NY hostage and demand from them an explanation of the sought-after friction-field generator tech.

When Amalfi finally manages to escape from the Hruntans, the City has accumulated even more violations on its record, and the earth police are not happy with them. So Amalfi takes the city out into the Rift, a huge expanse of space that is empty of stars and planets, Except for one lonely star system, containing the planet He, which is the only possible place to land inside the emptiness of the rift.

The citys adventures continue on, endlessly, which make it a very difficult book to synopsise. New York, as Okie cities do, moves from one planet to the other, never able to settle, and seemingly never getting ahead, always in some trouble, always low on some resource or other.

As such, the plot does seem to wander as much as the city itself does, but later events always rely on something learned or gained in earlier adventures, so things do tie together quite nicely. The passage of time in this novel was seriously hard to comprehend.

With the spindizzy drive, the okie cities can travel across distances that just would not be possible for us, the spindizzy is equivalent to travelling many times the speed of light. But apparently it does still take years to travel between systems, and the cities spend years again fulfilling their contracts on planets. Yet it did take me a while to understand this, there is no feel of a great passage of time in the writing, the story moves on from one event straight to the other, and then suddenly Amalfi will muse that he’s 2 centuries older!

I found this very jarring. I couldn’t relate to the time spans at all. I also didn’t get along very well with the main character. Arguably, Amalfi is supposed to be a hard character to relate to, because he has lived centuries longer than most humans and has become a little detatched from the rest of humanity. I think he even admits at one time that he behaves more like a computer now than a human.

Earthman, Come Home (Cities in Flight, #3) by James Blish

But on top of that I’m afraid I found him just plain irritating. Amalfi is constantly keeping plans to himself until the last possible second, even from the reader, which is a really childish way to create a plot mystery, I have to say I expected more from Blish than this terrible fake citiss trick.

I’m not even sure why Amalfi keeps a City Manager to run the city, as he never lets Hazleton get on with his job. He makes his plans without telling a single person, and then when Hazleton tries to makes descisions, Amalfi countermands all his orders without an explanation.

I found this just incredibly annoying, citiess doesn’t make Amalfi sound heroic or intelligent, just irritatingly childish. Every time it happened I couldn’t help thinking how much better things would have gone if he’d have just un open with Hazleton from the beginning.

But then of course there would be no ‘suspense’. Another character that irritated me was Dee, the only female character. She was portrayed as fairly intelligent, but unfortunately she never seemed to do anything with her intelligence. She had no role on the city, apart from to be someone elses wife, and she had no skills, and nothing whasoever to do. She may have been an intelligent love interest, but she was just a love interest all the same.


I suppose Blizh not entirely suprised, considering the decade the book was written jamee, but I don’t have to like it. Although I’m sure Blish’s portrayal of female characters improved in the 60s when he started writing for the very progressive Star Trek series. There were a lot of interesting ideas in the novel, the technology, the planets, and the civilisations were citues fascinating, but I don’t feel that it was carried off very well at all.

Apart from Amalfi’s secret plotting, there were also a few too many instances of Deus ex Machinaeg when view spoiler [doctor schloss suddenly saves them all by mending the invisiblility machine they all thought was fake, and then the machine is never mentioned or used again hide spoiler ].

I found out after finishing the entire set of novels that although number 3 in the series, Earthman, Come Home was actually the first written. Which explains why it never seems as well thought or out, or as well written as the blissh. But it still contains a lot of very good ideas, and I suppose in the end it is worth reading in order to tie all the other novels together. Still, I’d have to say this was my least favourite out of all the 4 books.

See my other reviews of Cities in Flight: Feb 04, Dan Quigley rated it liked it. It is easy to see how James Blish was selected to write the Star Trek novelizations of the original series. Essentially fllight novel is an early Star Trek adventure. The Enterprise here is a far future New York City that has taken off from Earth and acts like a starship.

A Life for the Stars (Cities in Flight, #2) by James Blish

The propulsion unit can go faster than light. Amalfi plays Captain Kirk. Others around Amalfi function as a ship’s crew, and the flying city goes from place to place having adventures. Normally, this premise would get four stars fr It is easy to see how James Blish was selected to write the Star Trek novelizations of the original series. Normally, this premise would get four stars from me since I love Star Trek.

However, these particular adventures were uninteresting. Nor is the cast surrounding Amalfi particularly engaging. Amalfi does have the Captain Kirk flair for doing whatever it takes to win, keeping his plans to himself, and taking surprising and ethically questionable actions to come out on top. It’s all for the greater good of the city, of course. The only problem is we’re never told why the city deserves continued existence.

Cities in Flight

The last adventure of the New York spaceship crew was view spoiler [to return to Earth after centuries of bopping around in space, the reasons for doing so being economic need. The book meandered to a meaningless and unmemorable end. Feb 24, Tony Ellis rated it liked it.

In the far future of Blish’s ‘Okie’ stories, the impoverished cities of Earth have left their home to travel the space lanes, hustling for citles like the itinerant farmers of the Great Depression.