Cities in Flight
By James Blish
Review by Bill Johnston

Cities in Flight Volumes I&II by James Blish each contain two novellas about the "spindizzy" drive which not only propels objects faster than light speed, it creates a closed bubble which seals in air and keeps out space debris. As a result of this, whole cities are launched as spaceships.

The first book contains the origin story, which is short, and the story of a boy who signs on to one of these wandering cities. I think the second story here is the best of the lot.

The first story in the second book is as close to pure space opera as I have ever read. The second continues from the first, but finishes with the end of the universe. I didn't like this last story because there were things mentioned that could have been developed further, and I got the impression that the universe was killed so he couldn't be talked into writing more stories about it.

I can recommend the first book, but not the second unless you like space opera. The only other really notable book I have read by Blish is A Case of Conscience, which is about a Jesuit priest's participation in a planetary survey and the religious dilemma he faces. This book is often listed on "best sf" lists, but if you don't care about religion, you probably wouldn't enjoy it.

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