BOOK REVIEW – JAMES BLISH – CITIES IN FLIGHT #4 THE TRIUMPH OF TIME 1959 SF Masterworks #3 Orion Press – Gollancz
Last volume of the Cities In Flight Quartet, also released as A Clash Of Cymbals, though the US title works better.
Volume three, Earthman Come Home ended with the city of New York crash-landing in another galaxy, where the citizens accepted that flying the city again as a whole was impossible but settling to life in a fairly utopian realm.
Book four begins with the near immortal mayor, Amalfi, bored by a lack of activity, after the adventures and nomadic travel of the previous books. He resigns office under protest, though he stole power in the first place. He remains loved, but love is impossible as the longevity drugs have rendered most men sterile and few children are now born.
Amalfi’s plan to fly off into space with just part of the city and a few loyal allies is thwarted when a planet they sent out of orbit in book three finds them again, its primitive people now having become civilized scientists and bringing their world under control. The people of the planet He have learned that the Universe is about to die in a collision with an anti-matter universe. The old New Yorkers travel on He to the heart of the destruction, but face competition from an alien race, The Web Of Hercules, who sterilize & irradiate other peoples to spread their own empire. The world called He destroys them with a matter destroying energy burst and secures a place from which every individual will explode into his own independent new universe, existing and becoming a God in the death they face – the end and beginning for Amalfi is followed through – what happens then is not told – an aptly mystical conclusion to a breath-taking work of high concept SF.
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