James Blish

James Blish

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James Benjamin Blish was an American author of fantasy and science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

. Blish also wrote literary criticism
Literary criticism
Literary criticism is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often informed by literary theory, which is the philosophical discussion of its methods and goals...

 of science fiction using the pen-name William Atheling, Jr.

Biography


Blish was born at East Orange, New Jersey
East Orange, New Jersey
East Orange is a city in Essex County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census the city's population 64,270, making it the state's 20th largest municipality, having dropped 5,554 residents from its population of 69,824 in the 2000 Census, when it was the state's 14th most...

. In the late 1930s to the early 1940s, Blish was a member of the Futurians
Futurians
The Futurians were a group of science fiction fans, many of whom became editors and writers as well. The Futurians were based in New York City and were a major force in the development of science fiction writing and science fiction fandom in the years 1937-1945.-Origins of the group:As described...

.

Blish trained as a biologist at Rutgers
Rutgers University
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey , is the largest institution for higher education in New Jersey, United States. It was originally chartered as Queen's College in 1766. It is the eighth-oldest college in the United States and one of the nine Colonial colleges founded before the American...

 and Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

, and spent 1942–1944 as a medical technician in the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

. After the war he became the science editor for the Pfizer
Pfizer
Pfizer, Inc. is an American multinational pharmaceutical corporation. The company is based in New York City, New York with its research headquarters in Groton, Connecticut, United States...

 pharmaceutical company. His first published story appeared in 1940, and his writing career progressed until he gave up his job to become a professional writer.

He is credited with coining the term gas giant
Gas giant
A gas giant is a large planet that is not primarily composed of rock or other solid matter. There are four gas giants in the Solar System: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune...

, in the story "Solar Plexus" as it appeared in the anthology Beyond Human Ken, edited by Judith Merril
Judith Merril
Judith Josephine Grossman , who took the pen-name Judith Merril about 1945, was an American and then Canadian science fiction writer, editor and political activist....

. (The story was originally published in 1941, but that version did not contain the term; Blish apparently added it in a rewrite done for the anthology, which was first published in 1952.)

Blish was married to the literary agent Virginia Kidd
Virginia Kidd
Virginia Kidd was an American literary agent, writer and editor, particularly influential in science fiction and related fields. She represented some of science fiction's most important authors, including Ursula K. Le Guin, R.A. Lafferty, Anne McCaffrey, and Gene Wolfe...

 from 1947 to 1963.

From 1962 to 1968, he worked for the Tobacco Institute
Tobacco Institute
The Tobacco Institute, Inc. was a United States tobacco industry trade group, founded in 1958 by the American tobacco industry.It was dissolved in 1998 as part of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.-Founding:...

.

Between 1967 and his death from lung cancer
Lung cancer
Lung cancer is a disease characterized by uncontrolled cell growth in tissues of the lung. If left untreated, this growth can spread beyond the lung in a process called metastasis into nearby tissue and, eventually, into other parts of the body. Most cancers that start in lung, known as primary...

 in 1975, Blish wrote authorized short story collections based upon the 1960s TV series Star Trek
Star Trek: The Original Series
Star Trek is an American science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry, produced by Desilu Productions . Star Trek was telecast on NBC from September 8, 1966, through June 3, 1969...

. He wrote 11 volumes adapting episodes of the series. He died midway through writing Star Trek 12; his second wife, J. A. (Judith Ann) Lawrence, completed the book, and later completed the adaptations in the volume Mudd's Angels. In 1970 he wrote Spock Must Die!
Spock Must Die!
Spock Must Die! is a Star Trek novel by James Blish released in 1970. It was published by Bantam Books. It is notable as the second of hundreds of original novels to be based upon the Star Trek franchise....

, the first original novel for adult readers based upon the series. (Since then hundreds more have been published.)

Blish lived in Milford, Pennsylvania at Arrowhead until the mid-1960s. In 1968, Blish emigrated to England, and lived in Oxford
Oxford
The city of Oxford is the county town of Oxfordshire, England. The city, made prominent by its medieval university, has a population of just under 165,000, with 153,900 living within the district boundary. It lies about 50 miles north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames run through...

 until his death at Henley-on-Thames
Henley-on-Thames
Henley-on-Thames is a town and civil parish on the River Thames in South Oxfordshire, England, about 10 miles downstream and north-east from Reading, 10 miles upstream and west from Maidenhead...

, in 1975. He is buried in Holywell Cemetery
Holywell Cemetery
Holywell Cemetery is next to St Cross Church in Oxford, England. The cemetery is behind the church in St Cross Road, north of Longwall Street.-History:...

, Oxford, near the grave of Kenneth Grahame
Kenneth Grahame
Kenneth Grahame was a Scottish writer, most famous for The Wind in the Willows , one of the classics of children's literature. He also wrote The Reluctant Dragon; both books were later adapted into Disney films....

.

Cities in Flight


Perhaps Blish's most famous works were the "Okie
Okie
Okie is a term dating from as early as 1907, originally denoting a resident or native of Oklahoma. It is derived from the name of the state, similar to Texan or Tex for someone from Texas, or Arkie or Arkansawyer for a native of Arkansas....

s" stories, known collectively as Cities in Flight
Cities in Flight
Cities in Flight is an omnibus volume of four novels written by James Blish, originally published between 1955 and 1962, which became known over time collectively as the 'Okie' novels. The novels feature entire cities that are able to fly through space using an anti-gravity device, the spindizzy...

, published in the science-fiction digest magazine Astounding Science Fiction. The framework for these was set in the first of four novels, They Shall Have Stars (first UK publication under the alternative title of Year 2018!), which introduces two essential features of the series. The first is the invention of the anti-aging drug ascomycin; Blish's employer Pfizer makes a thinly disguised appearance as Pfitzner in a section showing the screening of biological samples for interesting activity. (Pfizer also appears in disguise as one of the sponsors of the polar expedition in a subsequent book, Fallen Star). The second is the development of an antigravity device known as the "spindizzy
Spindizzy
The Dillon-Wagoner Graviton Polarity Generator, known colloquially as the spindizzy is a fictitious anti-gravity device imagined by James Blish for his series Cities in Flight...

". Since the device becomes more efficient when used to propel larger objects, entire cities leave an Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

 in decline and rove the stars, looking for work among less-industrialized systems. The long life provided by ascomycin is necessary because the journeys between stars are time-consuming.

They Shall Have Stars is dystopia
Dystopia
A dystopia is the idea of a society in a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian, as characterized in books like Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four...

n science fiction of a type common in the era of McCarthyism
McCarthyism
McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence. The term has its origins in the period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare, lasting roughly from the late 1940s to the late 1950s and characterized by...

. The second, A Life For The Stars, is a coming of age
Coming of age
Coming of age is a young person's transition from childhood to adulthood. The age at which this transition takes place varies in society, as does the nature of the transition. It can be a simple legal convention or can be part of a ritual, as practiced by many societies...

 story set amid flying cities. The third, Earthman, Come Home, is a series of loosely connected short stories
Short Stories
Short Stories may refer to:*A plural for Short story*Short Stories , an American pulp magazine published from 1890-1959*Short Stories, a 1954 collection by O. E...

 detailing the adventures of a flying New York City; the title piece was selected as one of the best novella
Novella
A novella is a written, fictional, prose narrative usually longer than a novelette but shorter than a novel. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Nebula Awards for science fiction define the novella as having a word count between 17,500 and 40,000...

s prior to 1965 by the Science Fiction Writers of America and included in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two
The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two
The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two: The Greatest Science Fiction Novellas of All Time is an anthology edited by Ben Bova. It honors works published prior to the institution of the Nebula Awards in 1965...

.

For his fourth and final installment, The Triumph of Time (UK title: A Clash of Cymbals), Blish set the end of his literature's universe in AD 4004. (The chronology in early editions of They Shall Have Stars differed somewhat from the later reprints, indicating that Blish, or his editors, may not have planned this at the beginning of the series.) A film version of Cities in Flight was in pre-production by Spacefilms in 1979, but never materialized.

The Haertel Scholium


This term describes the background of a number of Blish's short-story science fiction. Three distinct technologies, their invention, and consequences are outlined. There is a modicum of overlap between The Cities in Flight saga and that of The Seedling Stars, mainly through one piece of technology : The Dirac Radio. Another unifying concept is the first trans-luminal drive — The Haertel Overdrive.

Adolph (Dolph) Haertel developed the drive in order to reach Mars rapidly (Welcome to Mars!). Haertel Cosmology, the result of Haertel's science, in Blish's words, "swallowed Einstein the way Einstein swallowed Newton — that is to say, alive." Haertel goes on to develop the drive to allow the entry of men into interstellar space. The DFC-3, piloted by Garrard, reaches Alpha Centauri, where extraterrestrial first contact is made with the Clinesterton Beademung (Short Story: "Common Time
Common Time
"Common Time" is a science fiction short story written by James Blish. It first appeared in the August 1953 issue of Science Fiction Quarterly and has been reprinted several times: in the 1959 short-story collection Galactic Cluster; in The Testament of Andros ; in The Penguin Science Fiction...

"). The Drive at this stage is not well developed, and initially suffers from dramatic chrono-swings from almost complete time-freeze to the hyper-time of pseudo-death. With refinement, the drive becomes a valid method of interstellar travel, though not without mishap and adventure as other forms of travel are tried, such as the near-useless (though fascinating and instructive for the quantum physicist) Arpe Drive ("Nor Iron Bars").

Refinement of the drive allows the exploration of the near-stars, as well as the Coal-Sack Nebula, wherein the beings known as Angels are first encountered by the hero Jack Loftus, Sylvia McCrary and Dr. Challenger, as well as a long lived and powerful civilization, the Hegemony of Malis (The Star Dwellers). Ultimately deduction, and a first hand experience of a planet deliberately maintained in a state of genocidal savagery ("A Dusk of Idols"), coupled with expert reasoning reveals that the Hegemony is malignant, and Humanity rebels. Journey to the Heart Stars reveals the true nature of the Hegemony, and with the help of a stowaway Angel, Hesperus, humanity is freed of its bondage, and made companions of the Angels.

The stories considered part of the Haertel Scholium include A Case of Conscience, and the Pantropy series (see below). Both are anomalous in that they do not appear to have the Dirac Radio, though it is plausible to assume that A Case of Conscience takes place before the development of the Dirac.

A unifying force of galactic civilization is the Dirac Radio, developed by Dr. Thor Wald. This radio is able to permit faster-than-light
Faster-than-light
Faster-than-light communications and travel refer to the propagation of information or matter faster than the speed of light....

 radio transmission. It has an additional and unsettling ability — within every transmission, is the sum total of all transmissions from the device, throughout all of time and space. The Department of Intelligence, headed by Captain Robert Weinbaum, and aided by the beautiful video reporter Dana Lje, make this shattering discovery. Three hundred years later, the "Service" is the dominant government of the Galaxy, and Dirac is the center of their power, with a network built from Haertel Overdrive spacelanes. ("Beep").

4000 years in the future, Human civilization has met its first full antagonist — the Green Exarchy. A system of many civilizations ruled by a non-human emperor, the Green Exarch, this represents a significant threat to High Earth. The Green Exarch has at his employ the extremely dangerous shapeshifting (protean) agents known as Vombis, who will appear human, but do not revert to their true shape when killed, giving them an air of great mystery and menace.

The Haertel Overdrive is now called the Imaginary Drive, and the Dirac is still in common use. High Earth remains the center of Human civilization. That civilization is remarkably advanced — for all practical intents, humans are now immortal. A memory cleanse known as Baptism permits those filled with ennui to begin lives anew, though there are side effects from subconscious recall. A quasi-religious group known as Sagittarians also play a part. The most important financial force in the empire of High Earth is the Traitor's Guild, who permit money to flow from system to system in reward of treachery to system governments, producing a Feudatory system between worlds, though not at the expense of internal stability. Traitors skillfully employ advanced biotechnology to further their aims, and are known to employ fungal cytotoxins, DNA reverse transcription mutation agents (to inject false memories and appearances in order to forestall recognition and testimony during interrogations), as well as technology to petrify dead bodies in order to make up wall fortifications in far offworld planets. The Traitors Guild may be found on all planets (A Traitor of Quality, Section in The Quincunx of Time with a lecture about the Traitor's Guild, and The Green Exarchy).

5000 years later still, Human civilization has gone through many Rebirths, or Renaissances. The chance infusion of a mentality from 1949 through a freak combination of the active mode of the Dirac within a Radio Telescope results in the formation, after many adventures and an ultimate resurgence of Man, the Quint, the Autarch of Rebirth V. A computer of this far future time uses the Dirac as both a means of communication and infinite memory storage (Midsummer Century). Its existence was foretold at the time of Capt. Weinbaum, though no-one could interpret its messages then (The Quincunx of Time, novella expansion of "Beep").

After Such Knowledge


Blish declared that another group of novels was a trilogy, each dealing with an aspect of the price of knowledge, and given the overall name of After Such Knowledge (the title taken from a T. S. Eliot
T. S. Eliot
Thomas Stearns "T. S." Eliot OM was a playwright, literary critic, and arguably the most important English-language poet of the 20th century. Although he was born an American he moved to the United Kingdom in 1914 and was naturalised as a British subject in 1927 at age 39.The poem that made his...

 quote). The first published, A Case of Conscience
A Case of Conscience
A Case of Conscience is a science fiction novel by James Blish, first published in 1958. It is the story of a Jesuit who investigates an alien race that has no religion; they are completely without any concept of God, an afterlife, or the idea of sin; and the species evolves through several forms...

(a winner of the 1959 Hugo Award
Hugo Award
The Hugo Awards are given annually for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year. The award is named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and was officially named the Science Fiction Achievement Awards...

 as well as 2004/1953 Retrospective Hugo Award for Best Novella), showed a Jesuit
Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus is a Catholic male religious order that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits, and are also known colloquially as "God's Army" and as "The Company," these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and a...

 priest confronted with an alien intelligent race, apparently unfallen, which he eventually concludes must be a Satan
Satan
Satan , "the opposer", is the title of various entities, both human and divine, who challenge the faith of humans in the Hebrew Bible...

ic fabrication. The second, Doctor Mirabilis, is a historical novel about the medieval proto-scientist Roger Bacon
Roger Bacon
Roger Bacon, O.F.M. , also known as Doctor Mirabilis , was an English philosopher and Franciscan friar who placed considerable emphasis on the study of nature through empirical methods...

. The third, actually two very short novels, Black Easter
Black Easter
Black Easter is a Nebula Award-nominated fantasy novel by James Blish in which an arms dealer hires a black magician to unleash all the Demons of Hell on earth for a single day. It was first published in 1968. The sequel is The Day After Judgment. Together, those two short novels form the third...

and The Day After Judgment
The Day After Judgment
The Day After Judgment Is the second of a pair of short novels by James Blish. The first is the novel Black Easter. They have more recently been published as a single book called The Devil's Day.-Plot introduction:...

, was written using the assumption that the ritual magic for summoning demon
Demon
call - 1347 531 7769 for more infoIn Ancient Near Eastern religions as well as in the Abrahamic traditions, including ancient and medieval Christian demonology, a demon is considered an "unclean spirit" which may cause demonic possession, to be addressed with an act of exorcism...

s as described in grimoire
Grimoire
A grimoire is a textbook of magic. Such books typically include instructions on how to create magical objects like talismans and amulets, how to perform magical spells, charms and divination and also how to summon or invoke supernatural entities such as angels, spirits, and demons...

s actually worked. In that book, a powerful industrialist and arms merchant arranges to call up demons in the midst of a modern world crisis, resulting in nuclear war and the destruction of civilization. Black Easter is devoted to that element of the plot; The Day After Judgment is devoted to exploring the consequences of the destruction of the world, with an extraordinary ending in both narrative and theological terms that should not be given away.

The Seedling Stars (Pantropy)


Blish's most famous short stories are the "Pantropy
Pantropy
Pantropy is a hypothetical process of space colonization in which rather than terraforming other planets or building space habitats suitable for human habitation, humans are modified to be able to thrive in the existing environment...

" tales, collected in the book The Seedling Stars
The Seedling Stars
The Seedling Stars is a 1957 collection of science fiction short stories by James Blish. It was first published by Gnome Press in 1957 in an edition of 5,000 copies...

. In these stories, humans are modified to live in various alien environments, this being easier and vastly cheaper than terraforming
Terraforming
Terraforming of a planet, moon, or other body is the hypothetical process of deliberately modifying its atmosphere, temperature, surface topography or ecology to be similar to those of Earth, in order to make it habitable by terrestrial organisms.The term is sometimes used more generally as a...

.
  • Book One (Seeding Program) is about the inception of Pantropy, when the Pantropy program appears to have deteriorated into hideous genetic experimenting and has been outlawed. It describes Sweeney, a modified ("adapted") human whose metabolism is based on liquid ammonia and sulfur bonds and whose bones are made from ice IV, who is inserted into a colony on Ganymede by the Terran Port Authority (a para-military organization) to capture a renegade scientist and end his plans to seed modified humans on distant worlds. However, the government really only tries to derail pantropy because it will cut their profits from terraforming attempts. Sweeney is surprised to find a well established, functioning community on Ganymede and eventually realizes that he was just used as an expendable agent and that he has been fed false hopes about the possibility of being changed into a normal human being who could live on earth. Having found a real home, he switches sides and with his help the Ganymede colony manages to launch their seed ships to secret destinations, beyond the reach of the corrupt government.

  • Book Two (The Thing in the Attic) depicts a very successful seeding project. It tells the story of a small group of intellectuals from a primitive culture of modified monkey-like humans living in the trees of their jungle world. Having openly voiced the opinion that the godly giants do not literally exist as put down in the book of laws, they are banished from the treetops for heresy. In their exile on the ground they have to adapt to vastly different circumstances, fight monsters resembling dinosaurs, and finally happen upon the godly giants — who turn out to be human scientists who have just arrived on the world to monitor the progress of the local adapted humans. The protagonists are told by the scientists that their whole race must eventually leave the treetops to conquer their world and that they have become pioneers of some sort for accomplishing survival.

  • Book Three (Surface Tension) gives another example of a culture of adapted humans: A pantropy starship crashes on an ocean world, Hydrot, which is on orbit around Tau Ceti
    Tau Ceti
    Tau Ceti is a star in the constellation Cetus that is spectrally similar to the Sun, although it has only about 78% of the Sun's mass. At a distance of just under 12 light-years from the Solar System, it is a relatively close star. Tau Ceti is metal-deficient and so is thought to be less likely to...

    . With no hope for rescue, the few survivors modify their own genetic material to seed microscopic aquatic "humans" into the lakes and puddles of the world and leave them a message engraved on equally scaled metal plates. The story then tells how over many seasons, the adapted human newcomers explore their aquatic environment, make alliances, invent tools, fight wars with hostile beings and finally gain dominance over the sentient beings of their world. They develop new technologies and manage to decipher some of the message on the metal plates. Finally they build a wooden "space ship" (which turns out to be two inches long) to overcome the surface tension and travel to "other worlds" — the next puddle — in search of their ancestry, as they have come to realize that they are not native to their world.

  • Book Four (Watershed) takes a look at the more distant future. A very long time after the beginning of the Pantropy program, a starship crewed by "standard" humans is en route to some unimportant backwater planet to deliver a pantropy team who are "adapted" humans resembling seals more than humans. Due to racial prejudices, tension mounts between the crew and the passengers on board. When the captain decides to restrict the passengers to their cabins to prevent the situation from escalating, the leader of the adapted humans informs him that the planet ahead is Earth, where the "normal" human form once developed. He challenges the "normal" humans to follow him onto the surface of their ancestral home planet and prove that they are superior to the "adapted" seal people who will now be seeded there — or admit that they were beaten on their own grounds. The story concludes as the captain and his lieutenant silently ponder the possibility that they, being "standard" humans, are just a minority, and an obsolete species.


(The German title of the anthology is Auch sie sind Menschen..., literally "They, too, are humans". The stories' titles are Aussaatplan, Himmel und Hölle, Oberflächenspannung and Rückkehr respectively, which would literally translate back into English as "Seeding plan", "Heaven and Hell", "Surface tension" and "Return" or "Homecoming". However, except for Surface Tension the original English titles seem to be different.)

Watershed makes reference to the planet, Lithia, which is the centerpiece of A Case of Conscience, and it must be assumed that the Pantropy stories take place in a slightly different Universe, given the respective fates of the planet within each Universe.

Other


Blish collaborated with Norman L. Knight
Norman L. Knight
Norman Louis Knight was an accomplished chemist and an American author of fantasy and science fiction.-Biography:...

 on a series of stories set in a world with a population a thousand times that of today, and followed the efforts of those keeping the system running, collected in one volume as A Torrent of Faces. Included in this collection is Blish's Nebula-nominated novella The Shipwrecked Hotel, a story about a semi-submerged hotel with approximately a million guests which experiences a massive computer failure (a result of escaped silverfish) and begins to sink. Running parallel to all the side-plots is the inevitable catastrophe of the mile-wide asteroid "Flavia" striking near the east coast of the United States.

The stories are also notable for including a form of pantropy
Pantropy
Pantropy is a hypothetical process of space colonization in which rather than terraforming other planets or building space habitats suitable for human habitation, humans are modified to be able to thrive in the existing environment...

 that has been used to modify humans into a sea-dwelling form known as "Tritons".

Cities in Flight

  • They Shall Have Stars (1956; also published under the title Year 2018!)
  • A Life for the Stars (1962)
  • Earthman Come Home (1955; originally published as four short stories)
  • The Triumph of Time, (1958; published in the UK as A Clash of Cymbals)


A one-volume collection of all four Cities in Flight
Cities in Flight
Cities in Flight is an omnibus volume of four novels written by James Blish, originally published between 1955 and 1962, which became known over time collectively as the 'Okie' novels. The novels feature entire cities that are able to fly through space using an anti-gravity device, the spindizzy...

books exists, first published in the United States by Avon (1970), (ISBN 0380009986) and later in the UK by Arrow (1981), (ISBN 0099264404), which includes an analysis of the work (pp. 597 onwards) as an Afterword by Richard D. Mullen, derived from an original article by Leland Shapiro in the publication Riverside Quarterly. It is now available in hardcover and trade paperback from Overlook Press.

Outside the United States, a single volume collecting all four books is available from Gollancz
Gollancz
Gollancz often refers to the British publishing house Victor Gollancz Ltd.Gollancz, a family name originating from the Polish town Gołańcz , is mainly known as the name of a prominent British Jewish family, including:* Sir Hermann Gollancz , rabbi* Sir Israel Gollancz , scholar of...

 as part of its SF Masterworks
SF Masterworks
SF Masterworks is a series of science fiction books started by Millennium and currently published by Gollancz ....

 series. This edition includes a new (2006) introduction by Stephen Baxter; and uses the original United States title The Triumph of Time for A Clash of Cymbals.
The first two were also collected as Cities in Flight, Vol. 1 (1991) and the second two as Cities in Flight, Vol. 2 (1991)

After Such Knowledge

  • A Case of Conscience
    A Case of Conscience
    A Case of Conscience is a science fiction novel by James Blish, first published in 1958. It is the story of a Jesuit who investigates an alien race that has no religion; they are completely without any concept of God, an afterlife, or the idea of sin; and the species evolves through several forms...

    (first section published in If magazine, 1953, expanded version published 1958)
  • Doctor Mirabilis (1964)
  • Black Easter
    Black Easter
    Black Easter is a Nebula Award-nominated fantasy novel by James Blish in which an arms dealer hires a black magician to unleash all the Demons of Hell on earth for a single day. It was first published in 1968. The sequel is The Day After Judgment. Together, those two short novels form the third...

    (more correctly titled Black Easter, or Faust Aleph-null) (serialized as Faust aleph-null in If magazine, 1968)
  • The Day After Judgment
    The Day After Judgment
    The Day After Judgment Is the second of a pair of short novels by James Blish. The first is the novel Black Easter. They have more recently been published as a single book called The Devil's Day.-Plot introduction:...

    (published in Galaxy magazine
    Galaxy Science Fiction
    Galaxy Science Fiction was an American digest-size science fiction magazine, published from 1950 to 1980. It was founded by an Italian company, World Editions, which was looking to break in to the American market. World Editions hired as editor H. L...

    in 1970, book publication 1971)
  • The Devil's Day (1990, Gregg Press) collects Black Easter
    Black Easter
    Black Easter is a Nebula Award-nominated fantasy novel by James Blish in which an arms dealer hires a black magician to unleash all the Demons of Hell on earth for a single day. It was first published in 1968. The sequel is The Day After Judgment. Together, those two short novels form the third...

    and The Day After Judgment
    The Day After Judgment
    The Day After Judgment Is the second of a pair of short novels by James Blish. The first is the novel Black Easter. They have more recently been published as a single book called The Devil's Day.-Plot introduction:...

  • After Such Knowledge (1991, Legend Books) [omnibus of all 4 books]

The Haertel Scholium

  • Galactic Cluster (stories, Signet, 1959) — Containing among others "Beep", "Common Time
    Common Time
    "Common Time" is a science fiction short story written by James Blish. It first appeared in the August 1953 issue of Science Fiction Quarterly and has been reprinted several times: in the 1959 short-story collection Galactic Cluster; in The Testament of Andros ; in The Penguin Science Fiction...

    " and "Nor Iron Bars". The book version of the last story combines "Detour to the Stars" (1956) and "Nor Iron Bars" (1957). The 1960 UK hardback removes three stories from the Signet edition and adds "Beanstalk" (1952); the 1963 UK paperback edition removes three stories from the Signet edition (only two of the three are the same as those removed for the 1960 variation); the 1980 UK paperback uses the 1963 contents and adds "Beanstalk".
  • So Close to Home (stories, 1961)
  • The Star Dwellers (1961)
  • Mission to the Heart Stars (1965) — A sequel to The Star Dwellers
  • Welcome to Mars! (1967) — Dolph Haertel's seminal first flight to Mars.
  • Anywhen (1970)—Contains among others the novella A Traitor of Quality and the short story "A Dusk of Idols" (The 1971 UK edition removes the preface and adds a short story, "Skysign"]
  • Midsummer Century (1972) — The Far Future, at the time of Rebirth V. [The 1974 edition adds two unconnected short stories]
  • A Case of Conscience
    A Case of Conscience
    A Case of Conscience is a science fiction novel by James Blish, first published in 1958. It is the story of a Jesuit who investigates an alien race that has no religion; they are completely without any concept of God, an afterlife, or the idea of sin; and the species evolves through several forms...

     — Technically part of the Scholium, thanks to presence of the drive (see above)

Other Novels

  • There Shall Be No Darkness
    There Shall Be No Darkness
    There Shall Be No Darkness is a horror story by James Blish that was published in 1950. It concerns a group of people on a remote country manor who discover that one of their numbers is a ravenous werewolf. The story was adapted for the screen in 1974 as The Beast Must Die...

    (Thrilling Wonder Stories, 1950) — horror story where guests at a remote country estate discover that one of them is a werewolf. This was filmed as The Beast Must Die! (aka Black Werewolf) (1974)
  • The Warriors of Day (1951)
  • Jack of Eagles (1952)
  • Get Out of My Sky
    Get out of my Sky
    Get out of my Sky is a 1957 science fiction novella by James Blish. It was first published by the magazine Astounding Science Fiction in January and February 1957...

    (novella, 1957)
  • Fallen Star (1957) (also published as The Frozen Year) — Set in the International Geophysical Year
    International Geophysical Year
    The International Geophysical Year was an international scientific project that lasted from July 1, 1957, to December 31, 1958. It marked the end of a long period during the Cold War when scientific interchange between East and West was seriously interrupted...

     of 1958, it tells the story of a disaster-ridden polar expedition that finds a meteorite containing fossil life forms.
  • VOR (1958) [expanded by Blish from the collaborative 'The Weakness of RVOG' [with Damon Knight], {Thrilling Wonder Stories}, Feb 1949]
  • Titans' Daughter (1961) (expanded from "Beanstalk" (in Future Tense, ed. K. F. Crossen, 1952)
  • The Night Shapes (1962)
  • The Duplicated Man
    The Duplicated Man
    The Duplicated Man is a science fiction novel written by James Blish and Robert Lowndes and published first in 1953 by Columbia Publications, and a second time in 1959 by Airmont Publishing by arrangement with Thomas Bouregy and Company, Inc....

    (with R. W. Lowndes, 1959)
  • A Torrent of Faces (with Norman L. Knight, 1967)
  • The Vanished Jet (1968)
  • And All the Stars a Stage (1971)
  • The Quincunx of Time
    The Quincunx of Time
    The Quincunx of Time is a short science fiction novel by James Blish. It is an extended version of a short story entitled "Beep", published by Galaxy Science Fiction magazine in 1954...

    (1973) expansion of "Beep" (Galaxy, Feb 1954)

Star Trek

  • Star Trek (1967) (later as Star Trek 1) Collections of adaptations of the scripts of the well-known TV series
    Star Trek: The Original Series
    Star Trek is an American science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry, produced by Desilu Productions . Star Trek was telecast on NBC from September 8, 1966, through June 3, 1969...

  • Star Trek 2 (1968)
  • Star Trek 3 (1969)
  • Spock Must Die!
    Spock Must Die!
    Spock Must Die! is a Star Trek novel by James Blish released in 1970. It was published by Bantam Books. It is notable as the second of hundreds of original novels to be based upon the Star Trek franchise....

    (1970) The first Star Trek novel for an adult audience
  • Star Trek 4 (1971)
  • Star Trek 5 (1972)
  • Star Trek 6 (1972)
  • Star Trek 7 (1972)
  • Star Trek 8 (1972)
  • Star Trek 9 (1973)
  • Star Trek 10 (1974)
  • Star Trek 11 (1975)
  • Star Trek 12 (1977) [with Judith Ann Lawrence]

[Books 2, 3 and 8 were combined as The Star Trek Reader (1976). Books 1, 4 and 9 were combined as The Star Trek Reader II (1977). Books 5, 6 and 7 were combined as The Star Trek Reader III (1977). Books 10, 11 and Spock Must Die! were combined as The Star Trek Reader IV (1978)]
  • Star Trek: The Classic Episodes 1 (with Judith Ann Lawrence) (1991) (27 of the adapted screenplays arranged in order of transmission)
  • Star Trek: The Classic Episodes 2 (with Judith Ann Lawrence) (1991) (25 of the adapted screenplays arranged in order of transmission)
  • Star Trek: The Classic Episodes 3 (with Judith Ann Lawrence) (1991) (24 of the adapted screenplays arranged in order of transmission)

Other Collections

  • The Seedling Stars
    The Seedling Stars
    The Seedling Stars is a 1957 collection of science fiction short stories by James Blish. It was first published by Gnome Press in 1957 in an edition of 5,000 copies...

    (1957)
  • Best Science Fiction Stories of James Blish (stories, 1965) [includes There Shall Be No Darkness] [the revised 1973 edition removes There Shall Be No Darkness and adds 2 stories from the late 1960s; this revised version was published in 1977 as The Testament of Andros]
  • A Work of Art and other stories (edited by Francis Lyall) (1993)
  • A Dusk of Idols and other stories (edited by Francis Lyall) (1996)
  • Flight of Eagles (edited by James Mann, foreword by Tom Shippey
    Tom Shippey
    Thomas Alan Shippey is a scholar of medieval literature, including that of Anglo-Saxon England, and of modern fantasy and science fiction, in particular the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, about whom he has written several scholarly studies. He is widely considered one of the leading academic scholars...

    ) (2009)

Anthologies

  • New Dreams This Morning (1966)
  • Nebula Award Stories No. 5 (1970)
  • Thirteen O'Clock and other zero hours (collection of C M Kornbluth stories; edited by Blish) (1970)

Non-fiction


Blish wrote criticism of science fiction — some quite scathing — under the name of William Atheling, Jr. (derived from a pseudonym Ezra Pound
Ezra Pound
Ezra Weston Loomis Pound was an American expatriate poet and critic and a major figure in the early modernist movement in poetry...

 used for music criticism), as well as reviewing under his own name. The Atheling articles were reprinted in two collections, The Issue at Hand (1964) and More Issues at Hand (1970), and the posthumous The Tale That Wags The God 1987 collects Blish essays.

He was a fan of the works of James Branch Cabell
James Branch Cabell
James Branch Cabell, ; April 14, 1879 – May 5, 1958) was an American author of fantasy fiction and belles lettres. Cabell was well regarded by his contemporaries, including H. L. Mencken and Sinclair Lewis. His works were considered escapist and fit well in the culture of the 1920s, when his...

, and for a time edited Kalki, the journal of the Cabell Society.

Reviewing The Issue at Hand, Algis Budrys
Algis Budrys
Algis Budrys was a Lithuanian-American science fiction author, editor, and critic. He was also known under the pen names "Frank Mason", "Alger Rome", "John A. Sentry", "William Scarff", and "Paul Janvier."-Biography:...

 described "Atheling" as "aciduous, assertive, categorical, conscientious and occasionally idiosyncratic."

More on James Blish

  • Imprisoned in a Tesseract, the life and work of James Blish by David Ketterer ISBN 0-87338-334-6
  • Fantasy and Science Fiction
    The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction
    The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction is a digest-size American fantasy and science fiction magazine first published in 1949 by Mystery House and then by Fantasy House. Both were subsidiaries of Lawrence Spivak's Mercury Publications, which took over as publisher in 1958. Spilogale, Inc...

    (April 1972) — Special James Blish Issue

Honors, awards and recognition

  • 1959 Hugo Award
    Hugo Award
    The Hugo Awards are given annually for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year. The award is named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and was officially named the Science Fiction Achievement Awards...

     for A Case of Conscience
    A Case of Conscience
    A Case of Conscience is a science fiction novel by James Blish, first published in 1958. It is the story of a Jesuit who investigates an alien race that has no religion; they are completely without any concept of God, an afterlife, or the idea of sin; and the species evolves through several forms...

    "Best Novel"
  • 1960 Guest of Honor, World Science Fiction Convention
    Worldcon
    Worldcon, or more formally The World Science Fiction Convention, is a science fiction convention held each year since 1939 . It is the annual convention of the World Science Fiction Society...

  • 1965 Nebula Award
    Nebula Award
    The Nebula Award is given each year by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America , for the best science fiction/fantasy fiction published in the United States during the previous year...

     nomination for "The Shipwrecked Hotel" "Best Novelette" (with Norman L. Knight
    Norman L. Knight
    Norman Louis Knight was an accomplished chemist and an American author of fantasy and science fiction.-Biography:...

    )
  • 1968 Nebula Award nomination for Black Easter
    Black Easter
    Black Easter is a Nebula Award-nominated fantasy novel by James Blish in which an arms dealer hires a black magician to unleash all the Demons of Hell on earth for a single day. It was first published in 1968. The sequel is The Day After Judgment. Together, those two short novels form the third...

    "Best Novel"
  • 1969 Hugo Award nomination for "We All Die Naked" "Best Novella"
  • 1970 Nebula Award nomination for "A Style in Treason" "Best Novella"
  • 1970 Guest of honor, British Eastercon
    Eastercon
    Eastercon is the common name for the British national science fiction convention. From 1948 until the 1960s, the convention was held over the three-day Whitsun bank holiday at the end of May. Since then it has been held over the four-day Easter holiday weekend...

  • 1976 BSFA Special Award for Best British SF
  • 1977 Creation of the James Blish award for Criticism (first winner, Brian Aldiss
    Brian Aldiss
    Brian Wilson Aldiss, OBE is an English author of both general fiction and science fiction. His byline reads either Brian W. Aldiss or simply Brian Aldiss. Greatly influenced by science fiction pioneer H. G. Wells, Aldiss is a vice-president of the international H. G. Wells Society...

    )
  • 1950/2001 Retro-Hugo Award nomination for "Okie
    Okie
    Okie is a term dating from as early as 1907, originally denoting a resident or native of Oklahoma. It is derived from the name of the state, similar to Texan or Tex for someone from Texas, or Arkie or Arkansawyer for a native of Arkansas....

    " "Best Novelette"
  • 2002 Elected to Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame
  • 1953/2004 Retro-Hugo Award for "Earthman Come Home" "Best Novelette"
  • 1953/2004 Retro-Hugo Award for "A Case of Conscience
    A Case of Conscience
    A Case of Conscience is a science fiction novel by James Blish, first published in 1958. It is the story of a Jesuit who investigates an alien race that has no religion; they are completely without any concept of God, an afterlife, or the idea of sin; and the species evolves through several forms...

    " "Best Novella"

External links