Cities in Flight

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I read “Cities in Flight” — a space opera by James Blish — for the first time more or less a quarter century ago. As usual back then, I was scanning the science fiction and fantasy bookshelf of my local library for something new to read as this paperback tome caught my eyes. It was a bit worn, but still in good shape. I got home and started reading and only took a break when I really needed to do something else.

“Cities in Flight” is huge. At the first reading it was magnificent, but even now as I have finished reading it for the third time, it’s still breath taking. Just think about it: Cities that just take off, leave earth and fly around the stars with velocities faster than light. Just coming up with such an idea is mind-blowing. And it doesn’t stop here. James Blish also hurls whole planets through the universe.

“Cities in Flight” could be called the mother of space operas. At least for me it is. It’s the first I’ve ever read and there aren’t many others that match it’s scale. The “Night’s Dawn” trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton is probably one of them. But while that one populates its universe with many characters, “Cities in Flight” needs little more than a handful of them to tell great stories.

“Cities in Flight” is a very well written captivating space opera. If you ever wondered what’s the fuss with all that talk about space operas, get your feet wet with this one and you’ll probably enjoy swimming quite soon.