The Triumph of Time, James Blish (1959)

November 26th, 2009

I am sorry that I’ve taken so long to write this. I actually finished this more than a week ago.

This is the fourth and final book of Blish’s Cities in Flight series. The premise of the Cities in Flight is that there is a field generator that can throw up a bubble around a mass as big as a city and lift it up to fly faster than the speed of light between the stars. The City of New York and its Mayor are central to all but the first book.

The Triumph of Time concerns not only the end of the Cities in Flight story, but the end of the Universe. Around the year 4000, the characters discover that the evolution of the universe, which started with the big bang, is going to end when a second complimentary universe composed of antimatter will converge at which point the two universes will annihilate each other.

The plot concerns itself with the preparations of this event and a possible way to insure that the annihilation will result in creating a new universe where life will be possible.

This is my first reading of The Triumph of Time. Although I had read the first three books several times as complete novels and parts as short stories in the pages of Astounding and Analog Magazine, I had somehow missed this one.

This long treatment of what amounts to metaphysical ideas was not as engaging as the other books. The reasoning for the conclusions was cloudy and I did not feel that the ending was at all satisfying. The novel, as is the case with the other novels, began its life as a series of short stories, at least it feels this way. The plot is episodic with the individual episodes only generally leading up to the conclusion.

Of the four novels in the Cities in Flight, this is the weakest, and the only one that I will not read again.

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I started reading Science Fiction in the 1950s. I started Writing SF in the 1960s. Then, I had a life. Now I am retired, raising chickens and keeping bees. I am still an avid reader and I have sold about 70 stories in the last 20 years.
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