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The Seedling Stars by James Blish

The Seedling Stars (1957)

by James Blish

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English (4)  French (1)  All languages (5)
Showing 4 of 4
Another one for my Year of Nostalgic Re-reads, and I really enjoyed this re-read. I'm pretty sure that 40 plus years ago I did not know this was a collection of four previously published short stories, but I do recall being enamored of the imagination of James Blish and the science fiction that this was/is...Adapted Men instead of terraforming! Brilliant!

"The Seeding Program" is both quite good and not quite so good. I liked the concept, though the execution at the end wrapped in cliches and naïveté. Still, a good story.
As a stand alone story, "Thing in the Attic" would have made a good Twilight Zone episode. In this collection, the impact is lessened, but it was still engaging.
"Surface Tension" is the story I remembered most from those forty odd years ago. Silly when thinking of the scale, it was nonetheless quite imaginative.
And "Watershed" is, well ... preachy and cliched. And thankfully, short.

To be sure, I have a slightly different reference frame reading it as an adult, and as such am less enamored than as a child, but the memories are good as is the fiction. ( )
1 vote Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
Back in the early 1980s, I was a big fan of Blish’s fiction – possibly because Arrow had repackaged them with Chris Foss covers – and bought and read a dozen or so. I still have them. But one I’d missed was The Seedling Stars, so I tracked down a copy on eBay a few years ago – with, of course, the Foss cover art – and stuck it on the TBR. I had a feeling I might have read it before – certainly, ‘Surface Tension’, the penultimate story in the collection wasn’t new to me, although I’m not sure where I’d previously read it. But the other two novellas and one short story didn’t ring any bells. All four are about “pantropy”, which is genetically engineering humanity for environments rather than terraforming worlds. In ‘Seeding Program’, Earth has sent an agent to infiltrate a colony on Ganymede created by the leader of the pantropy movement and whose inhabitants have all been engineered before birth to survive on the Jovian moon’s frozen surface. It’s not in the slightest bit convincing, and the plot could just have easily been translated to any random Earth location. In ‘The Thing in the Attic’, the theocratic society of the gibbon-like humans of Tellura is causing them to stagnate, but when one freethinker is exiled he and his companions trek over the mountains and discover a starship of humans who have come to see how the colony is doing. Solid nineteen-fifties science fiction, perhaps a little preachy in places, and not especially memorable. ‘Surface Tension’, however, is memorable. In this novella, tiny humans have been seeded in a series of ponds on the one small piece of land on a water world. Again, a freethinker (male, of course) persuades his fellows to build a special vehicle to explore the world “above the sky”. The sentient amoebas are a little hard to swallow (so to speak), but it’s a fun setting and Blish makes good use of it. The final story, ‘Watershed’, is very short and takes place on a starship heading for Earth. The crew are baseline humans and the passenger is an engineered human from another world. The crew are also hugely racist toward their passenger. Who points out that baseline humans are now the minority among the colonised worlds. I suspect I would have enjoyed this collection a whole lot more if I’d read it back in the early nineteen-eighties when I read all those other Blish books… ( )
  iansales | Dec 31, 2015 |
Short stories about the human race spreading to the stars and modifying itself to the conditions present as opposded to modifying the conditions.

Contains one of my favorites: "Surface Tension". Humans land on a water/swamp planet and decide the only was to survive is to reduce themselves to the size of the creatures in the puddles. Maybe this story stuck with me because I first read it while studying rotivers in our farm pond ( )
  RGKronschnabel | Dec 1, 2010 |
The Seedling Stars works better in it's original state, as a standalone novella, as opposed to being a part of this uneven fixup novel.
You can find it in a number of anthologies, most notably "The Best of James Blish". ( )
1 vote arthurfrayn | Aug 3, 2008 |
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Blish, JamesAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dillon, DianeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, LeoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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