BOOK REVIEW – JAMES BLISH – EARTHMAN COME HOME. 1955 Victor Gollancz – Science Fiction Masterworks #3.
The third and longest book in the Cities In Flight quartet. Chris, the central character of book two, after getting such important responsibilities at that book’s conclusion, gets no mention here, and the focus is on the enigmatic mayor of New York, Amalfi, as he guides the inter-planetary city through various increasingly desperate adventures.
As the cities move through the galaxy, vital resources are running low, forcing some cities to acts of piracy. New York see one pirate city destroy another city and give pursuit, but the governing Earth based police are crippling New York and other cities with fines for many breaches in regulations.
Amalfi, pursued by the police, and finding the main currency he depends on to be now economically worthless, hides out in deep space, where he finds a planet that has drifted too close to its own Sun, and suffers from terrible climate changes. Amalfi gives the World its own spindizzy, and the planet flies off, but with its course ungoverned.
Later, Amalfi finds other cities of Earth origin that plan an invasion. Disguised as a protest march, to force Earth’s galactic police force to abolish its crippling system of fines. Amalfi saves Earth by turning another World into a spindizzy ship, but this time, he is able to control it, and he uses it to decimate the main invasion fleet. Still pursued by the police, Amalfi lands the city of New York on the planet, and sends it into deep space, calling the World the New Earth, and settling there, like pioneers of old, ready for the events of book four, The Triumph Of Time.
Epic in scope, if rather episodic and fragmented compared to the two previous books, but a stunning work of imagination all the same.
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