Earthman, Come Home by James Blish
Might contain spoilers.
Here it is: the book that started it all. Naturally, it’s a fantastic novel that I found extremely
hard to put down. It’s certainly the best in the series, and written in the same style. The ending
is sentimental and moving. It’s sad, though, that Chris deFord, hero of the previous
shot by the City Fathers
for unnamed, unsavoury actions.
The details and the science might be beyond my comprehension, but I always enjoy watching Amalfi outdo everyone else with his thinking and planning. This is a important insight:
but the problem of patience had never been solved.
The older a man became, the more quickly he saw answers to tough questions because the more experience he had to bring to bear on them; and the less likely he was to tolerate slow thinking among his associates. If he were sane, his answers generally right answers – if he were unsane, they were not; but what mattered was the speed of the thinking itself. In the end, both the sane and the unsane became equally dictatorial, less and less ready to explain why they picked one answer over the other.
It makes me wonder about the lengths of time the story trafficks in. The City Fathers tell Amalfi it will take six years to plot a trajectory (with a level of precision common to all characters in the story). He frightens them into doing it in 14 months. How does someone of his age, who presumably has very little patience, wait more than a year for an answer?
This is a science fiction book by a male author published in 1955. Unsurprisingly, it features a community of women who go nude for no good reason and one of these free thinkers ends up onboard New York.
Next in series: The Triumph of Time by James Blish(#4 in Thoughts & Spoilers: Books: Cities in Flight (1955))