The Big Ideas of James Blish

The first Blish story I read was Surface Tension in Science Fiction Hall of Fame anthology. While there's certainly some issues with the anthology, it's a solid collection of short fiction. Blish isn't an author I've read extensively, but I remember him popping up frequently in the various anthologies I read over the years.

We're getting to a transitional phase in the history of SF following the 'Golden Age' period smack-dab in the middle of the century. Now, we're starting to get into the early 1960s and beyond, which will have some interesting things happen.

Go read The Big Ideas of James Blish over on Kirkus Reviews.


  • Billion Year Spree, Brian Aldiss. Aldiss has some good things to say about Blish and his influence
  • The Scribner Writer's Series: Science Fiction Writers, 2nd Edition, edited by Richard Bleiler. John Clute has a great section on Blish's works and career, particularly about his Cities in Flight and A Case of Conscience stories.
  • Age of Wonders: Exploring The World of Science Fiction, David G. Hartwell. Hartwell mentions Blish a couple of times, with some good points about the political undertones to his stories.
  • The Futurians: The Story of the Great Science Fiction "Family" of the 30's That Produced Today's Top SF Writers and Editors, Damon Knight. Blish shows up quite a bit in Knight's book (they were fairly close friends), and there's some good information about his career.
  • Better To Have Loved, The Life of Judith Merrill, by Judith Merrill and Emily Pohl-Weary. Merrill and Blish didn't get along, to say the least, and there's a couple of good points about Blish's politics.
  • The Way the Future Was: A Memoir, Frederik Pohl. Pohl bought Blish's first story, and has some good rememberences in his memoir.
  • American Science Fiction: Five Classic Novels, 1956-1958, edited by Gary K. Wolfe. I love the Library of America books. They're beautiful to physically behold, and they include some great little biographical thumbnails that are great as starting points for this column.