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Clash of Cymbals (Cities in flight / James…

Clash of Cymbals (Cities in flight / James Blish) (original 1959; edition 1974)

by James Blish (Author)

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287360,101 (3.16)13
Title:Clash of Cymbals (Cities in flight / James Blish)
Authors:James Blish (Author)
Info:Arrow Books (1974), Edition: n.e., 208 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Triumph of Time by James Blish (1959)



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This, the final book in the Cities of Flight quadrilogy, was a bit of a disappointment in my opinion. Moving forward from the first three it is suddenly heavily laden with jargon and an initially somewhat disjointed dialogue. Once things do get moving the story does improve, however it takes some perseverance to get there and it certainly isn't like the earlier fun to read space adventures.

Bit of a fizzler, didn't get much from the ending either. ( )
  HenriMoreaux | Apr 24, 2018 |
So to the final book in Blish's 'Cities in Flight' sequence, and the fourth sf novel I ever read.

What could I possibly have made of it when I read it at age 14? There are huge expository lumps of advanced cosmology in it, although I have to say that for 1959, a lot of what I understood (even now!) strikes me as being fairly sound, except for the way in which the steady-state theory is promoted as a sound and lasting theory of the origin of the universe; which is odd, because we are firmly in (cosmological) Big Bang territory here.

I also, at age 14, would not have grasped the joke Blish was playing on us by reflecting Archbishop Usher's fabled date for God's Creation of the World of 4004 BC (though he doesn't go so far as to replicate the actual day and month!). Quite why Blish chose to throw this into the mixture I'm not sure, though it does correspond to the cosmic ideas in the novel of the reflection of matter and anti-matter universes..

As with its prequel, 'Earthman, come home', I found myself revisiting an old friend in the form of this book, although Amalfi's casual acceptance of eugenic euthanasia for his children because of his centuries of spacefaring having exposed him to excessive radiation and subsequent genetic damage somewhat jaw-dropping. I found the recurring characters from previous books quite well-drawn, though the Hevians, as recent introductions (apart from their leader) were rather sketchy.

My main issue with the book was the way in which it seemed to have very little to do with the story of the flying cities; New York is permanently grounded, and at the end of 'Earthman, come home', the last of the Okies settled down to raise families and grow crops. Perhaps John Amalfi's unrest and urge to be back in space would have made only a coda to that novel, though doubtless it would have fitted better there. Flying off in an entirely new, part cosmological, part mystical adventure which had very little to do with the sort of events and the sort of story that we saw in the preceding volumes was really something of a discontinuity.

There was a good sense of the passage of time and the characters' reaction to suddenly being forced to reflect on that passage; But oh! The expository lumps! ( )
1 vote RobertDay | Dec 4, 2015 |
This story picks up, unlike previous volumes, where the last one ended. Mayor Amalfi has become restless on New Earth and seeks to resume a life of adventure among the stars. Serendipitously - or not - adventure finds him instead, along with all the rest of the universe as time itself appears to be coming imminently to an end.

Here at the final volume of this series, which until now I've consistently rated as four stars, I have to let my rating slip a bit as I struggle to appreciate this strange epilogue. It's unquestionably the closing chapter on the history of the Okie cities, so finality may have been the author's goal. It is also a critical piece to consider when pinpointing the series' encompassing themes. Through all four books we are given to contemplate what it would be like to experience near-immortality, and what that might provide for seeking meaning in the universe. It's difficult to relate what this final volume adds to that contemplation without producing an enormous spoiler, but suffice to say you get the author's final answer.

The writing is probably the worst here of the four: a whole lot of overwriting (surprising for such an already short book), and with technical detail that goes even farther over my head. Having completed the series I'm not as prepared to broadly recommend it as I was at the beginning, but - curiosity satisfied. ( )
  Cecrow | Sep 24, 2010 |
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James Blishprimary authorall editionscalculated
Powers, RichardCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Bismillahi 'rrahmani 'rrahim; When the day that must come shall have come suddenly; None shall treat that sudden coming as a lie; Day that shall abase! Day that shall exalt!; When the earth shall be shaken with a shock; And the mountains shall be crumbled with a crumbling; And shall become scattered dust; And into three bands shall ye be divided: ... Before thee have we granted to a man a life that shall last forever: If thou then die, shall they live forever? Every soul shall taste of death: ... But it shall come on them suddenly and shall confound them; and they shall not be able to put it back, neither shall they be respited." - The Koran; Sura LVI, Sura XXI
To Lester and Evelyn del Rey
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... Thus we have seen that Earth, a planet like other civilized worlds, having a score of myriads of years of atmosphere-bound history behind her, and having begun manned local spaceflight in approximately her own year 1960, did not achieve importance on a galactic scale until her independent discovery of the gravitron polarity generator in her year 2019.
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Also published as A Triumph of Time, or The Triumph of Time
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0380202794, Mass Market Paperback)

Fourth and Final volume in the "Cities in flight" series. The wandering city of Manhattan has grounded itself, apparently forever, on a fair Earthlike world in the Greater Magellanic Cloud. But peace and prosperity are not the destiny of Mayor Amalfi. A conversation with the scientists of the wandering planet He leads him off to explore no less than the birthplace of matter, the source of continuous creation. But, in fact, what they have uncovered is Judgment Day for mankind, and his universe!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:19 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"When the scientists of the wandering planet HE - in their journeys through the furthest reaches of inter-galactic space - heard the sounds of hydrogen atoms coming into existence out of NOTHING, they realized that they had accidentally discovered the birthplace of continuous creation. But they didn't know until later, much later, that they had uncovered mankind's Day of Judgement. Following up the Hevian's discovery, scientists of New Earth learned of the existence of a Universe based on Anti-Matter energy - a chemical and physical structure so antagonistic to their own Universe that the slightest contact meant instantaneous oblivion for both worlds. In desperation, the scientists joined forces to create a missile to explore this mysterious and hostile Anti-Matter Universe. But when the missile returned the scientists learned one awesome fact: In three years time the two Universes were doomed to inevitable, catastrophic collision."--Goodreads.com.

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