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    And Death Shall Have No Domain
        (Dylan Thomas)

    And death shall have no dominion.
    Dead men naked they shall be one
    With the man in the wind and the west moon;
    When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
    They shall have stars at elbow and foot...

It's 2018 and the West has become increasingly like the USSR--with a government that is paranoid and sclerotic.  But Senator Bliss Wagoner has come up with a way to break the nearly moribund space program out of its long torpor and get it moving again.  The first part of his plan involves building an enormous bridge on Jupiter.  Leading this effort is Robert Helmuth, who has come to hate the project for reasons he can't even fathom.  The second part of the plan involves secret drug research at the Pfitzner company (Blish himself worked for Pfizer).  Standing in the Senator's way is Francis Xavier MacHinery, hereditary head of the FBI.

This is essentially a scene-setter for the rest of the Cities in Flight series, or the Okies stories as they are called.  By the end of this first entry Senator Wagoner reveals the development of anti-gravity technology, called the spindizzy, and an anti-aging drug, asomycin, which together will allow entire cities to flee the oppressive political situation on Earth in subsequent volumes of the series.

Mr. Blish obviously whiffed badly by making it seem that McCarthyism would consume the United States, but oddly enough has proven right about our losing our drive toward interstellar travel.  The characters are somewhat one dimensional and the story's a bit underwritten.  It has very much the feel of an author who's more interested in what's to come than in this introductory bit.  But if Blish isn't quite up to the standards of the three giants of the Golden Age of Science Fiction-- Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, and Arthur C. Clarke--he's at least a capable practitioner of the space opera genre.

(Reviewed:)

Grade: (C+)

  

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See also:

James Blish (2 books reviewed)
Science Fiction & Fantasy
Book-related and General Links:
    -ESSAY : Introduction to Heinlein in Dimension (James Blish, 1967)
    -James Blish (Wikipedia)
    -James Blish - Bibliography Summary (SF Site)
    -Alpha Ralpha Boulevard: James Blish
    -James Blish (1921 - 1975) (the Internet Public Library :Online Literary Criticism Collection)
    -PROFILE : James Blish (Marc Andre Brie)
    -Denver Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club BOOK SELECTION : A CASE OF CONSCIENCE
    -ESSAY : Cosmic Dust Bowl: James Blish and 'Cities in Flight' (S. James Blackman, 15 April 2000, SPACE.com)
    -REVIEW : of A Case of Conscience (Paul Di Filippo , scifi.com)
    -REVIEW : of A Case of Conscience (Aaron M. Renn , Urbanophile)
    -REVIEW : of The Seedling Stars by James Blish (Rich Horton, SF Site)
    -REVIEWS : Blish, James (Doug's Library)
    -Dani Zweig's Belated Reviews : James Blish

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