Friday, July 16, 2010
Get Out of My Sky by James Blish
After really liking the first two novels in Flights of Eagles, I was really looking forward to the third. As it turned out, despite being labeled a novel on the dust jacket description, it is more a novella than anything else, not clocking in at a very high word count. Regardless, I delved into Get Out of My Sky.
The planet Home has its problems: the two continents don’t get along, the rival political parties are quite truly at each others’ throats, and their world is almost completely water, not leaving much room for everyone. However, when they realize their twin planet, Rathe, which orbits with them in a binary planet orbit, is populated with another sentient race, war isn’t far off. Each feels threatened by the other, and they wind up in a stalemate of mutually assured destruction. So, when a chance for peace with Rathe offers itself, Aidregh, the First Minister of Thennen on Home, must risk the trip to the other planet if he hopes to save the future.
Blish manages to pile a lot of different story types all into one with this tale: two alien races with no humans, ESP, interplanetary struggle, mysticism. He meshes them all together quite well. What he turns out isn’t the best story in this volume (I would argue that it is “rare,” as the description states, in part because it isn’t Blish’s best work), it still is interesting. The pace is slow, and it felt like it could have taken off more than it did. This one might have worked better cut down into a short story, or fleshed out into a novel, but it just didn’t feel like it was right at this length.
However, it certainly wasn’t all bad. There were characters with plenty of potential, and an intriguing plot concept. Even the mystery brought up in the story had potential, although it went unresolved. The key problem, in my mind, was that it just tried to do too much with too little space. Cut back on some of the threads, or flesh them out. Explore them, and let them reach a conclusion. A longer novel could have been really good.