Cities in Flight - James Blish

Fried Egg

Well-Known Member
Nov 20, 2006
I think there was another thread but I can't find it; perhaps it got lost when the server went down a while back?

Anyway, I've just finished the final part "A clash of cymbals" and I'm glad to say that I enjoyed it. The series as a whole was quite up and down for me. The first part was a mere prologue and could be dispensed with entirely if one was so inclined, although it did touch on some interesting concepts. The second part was a classic story that introduced the concept of "Okie" (flying) cities and followed the story of a man who rises from the lowest of the low to eventually become city manager of an important and legendary okie city: New York.

The last two parts concentrate on the Mayor of New York and his city manager as they try to keep their city alive and deal with the tricky problems that are thrown at it. They portray the death of "okie" culture and follow the city as they try to find a new place for themselves in the emerging galactic order. And then we discover how they cope with the ultimate problem; the imminent end of time and the universe itself.

I would definitely put this series in the "hard" SF category and quite often the science went over my head. The third and longest part of the series was actually the low point for me but overall it was a series well worth a read.


Mar 21, 2005
Well thanks for the detailed review, as you know I'm yet to read this one but it sounds as if it's a worthy addition to the Masterwork series.

I do have the other Masterwork by him A Case Of Conscience. I'ts a brilliant and thought provoking book on ethics and not surprisingly won the Hugo back in '59.