The Info List - James Blish

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JAMES BENJAMIN BLISH (May 23, 1921 – July 30, 1975) was an American author of fantasy and science fiction . He is best known for his work on _ Star Trek _. Blish also wrote literary criticism of science fiction using the pen-name William Atheling, Jr.


* 1 Early life and career * 2 Death

* 3 SF themes and major works

* 3.1 The Haertel drive * 3.2 _Beep_: The Dirac communicator * 3.3 _Cities in Flight_ * 3.4 The Traitor\'s Guild * 3.5 Pantropy * 3.6 _After Such Knowledge_ * 3.7 _Star Trek_

* 4 Selected bibliography

* 4.1 Cities in Flight * 4.2 After Such Knowledge * 4.3 Miscellaneous novels

* 4.4 _Star Trek_

* 4.4.1 The Star Trek Reader * 4.4.2 The Classic Episodes

* 4.5 Short stories * 4.6 Collections * 4.7 Anthologies (edited) * 4.8 Non-fiction

* 5 Honors, awards and recognition * 6 See also

* 7 References

* 7.1 Citations

* 8 Further reading * 9 External links


James Benjamin Blish was born on 23 May 1921 at East Orange, New Jersey . Blish later studied biology at Rutgers and Columbia University .

In the late 1930s to the early 1940s he was a member of the Futurians , an influential science fiction fan club. His first published stories appeared in _ Super Science Stories _, "Emergency Refueling" in March and "Bequest of the Angel" in May 1940. At least ten more stories were published during 1941 and 1942, with two more over the next five years.

Blish spent 1942–1944 as a medical technician in the United States Army . After the war he became the science editor for the Pfizer pharmaceutical company. His writing career progressed until eventually he gave up his job to become a full-time writer.

He is credited with coining the term gas giant , in the story "Solar Plexus" as it appeared in the anthology _Beyond Human Ken_, edited by Judith Merril . (The story was originally published in 1941, but that version did not contain the term; Blish is thought to have added it in a rewrite done for the anthology, which was first published in 1952.)

From 1962 to 1968, Blish worked for the Tobacco Institute .

Then in 1968 Blish left his native America and moved to Henley-on-Thames , England.

From 1967 to 1977, Blish worked on a series of books for the _Star Trek _ franchise. He died before the series was completed and the final volume, _ Star Trek 12_, was co-credited to his wife.


James Blish's grave marker

Blish died on 30 July 1975 and was buried in Holywell Cemetery , Oxford. The archive of Blish's books and papers is deposited at the Bodleian Library
Bodleian Library
in Oxford.


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_ Blish's novella "Sargasso of Lost Cities", his third "Cities in Flight" story, was originally published in Two Complete Science-Adventure Books _ in 1953 _ Blish's The Warriors of Day_ was originally published in _ Two Complete Science-Adventure Books _ in 1951 as "Sword of Xota"

In his works of science fiction, James Blish
James Blish
developed many ideas and terms which have influenced other writers and on occasion have been adopted more widely.


The Haertel drive is a faster-than-light propulsion system developed through in a number of Blish's science fiction short stories.

In the story _Welcome to Mars!_, Adolph (Dolph) Haertel developed the drive in order to reach Mars rapidly. Haertel goes on to develop the drive further, to enable interstellar travel. In _ Common Time _ the drive is not yet fully developed but the destination is reached and alien contact made. The details of the story are seen as an early example of symbolism in Science Fiction. Many other short stores of interstellar travel and alien contact followed.

Other stories in which the Haertel drive appears include _A Case of Conscience_ and the Pantropy series (see below).

In some later stories the Haertel drive is referred to as the "Imaginary drive".


The Dirac communicator provides instantaneous faster-than-light communication across space and is often compared to Ursula K. Le Guin 's Ansible . It first appeared in his classic short story _Beep_ (1955), which tells of its most remarkable property: every Dirac transmission ever made is repeated in a loud beep of noise at the beginning of every signal. Analysis of the beep reveals these messages from past, present and future.

Unlike any other SF story up to that point it is essentially plotless, being in the main a speculative take on the work of the physicist Paul Dirac. Blish also pointed out that the presence of communications from the future, implicit in Dirac's treatment of positrons as electrons travelling backwards in time, has philosophical implications for the debate over whether we have free will or the future is already determined. To Blish's surprise the story proved popular and even started a new subgenre of SF.

The story inspired the physicist Gerald Feinberg to develop the theory of tachyons .

Blish later expanded it into the full-length novel, _The Quincunx of Time _.

The Dirac communicator reappeared in many of Blish's subsequent works, including the _ Cities in Flight _ series.

Many thousands of years later, human civilization has gone through many Rebirths, or Renaissances. The chance infusion of a mentality from 1949 through a freak combination of the active mode of the Dirac within a radio telescope results in the formation, after many adventures and an ultimate resurgence of Man, the Quint, the Autarch of Rebirth V. A computer of this far future time uses the Dirac as both a means of communication and infinite memory storage (_Midsummer Century_). Its existence was foretold at the time of Capt. Weinbaum (in _The Quincunx of Time_), though no-one could interpret it then.


Main article: Cities in Flight

The _ Cities in Flight _ quartet tells of the "Okie" cities which uprooted themselves from Earth
and became itinerant workforces across the Galaxy. Much of the material was originally published in the science-fiction digest magazine _Astounding Science Fiction _, and was not written in the chronological order of the stories themselves.

_They Shall Have Stars_ (first UK publication under the alternative title of _Year 2018!_) introduces two essential features of the series. The first is the invention of the first anti-aging drug ascomycin by a company called _Pfitzner_, echoing Blish's own employer Pfizer ( Pfizer also appears in disguise as one of the sponsors of the polar expedition in a subsequent book, _Fallen Star_). The second is the development of an antigravity device known as the "spindizzy ". Since the device becomes more efficient when used to propel larger objects, entire cities leave an Earth
in decline and rove the stars, looking for work among less-industrialized systems. The long life provided by ascomycin is necessary because the journeys between stars are time-consuming. A further feature of these stories is Blish's Dirac communicator . The chronology in early editions of _They Shall Have Stars_ differed somewhat from the later reprints, indicating that Blish, or his editors, may not have planned this at the beginning of the series.

_A Life For The Stars_, is a coming of age story set amid the flying cities. The third, _Earthman, Come Home_, is a series of loosely connected short stories detailing the adventures of a flying New York City; the title piece was selected as one of the best novellas prior to 1965 by the Science Fiction Writers of America and included in _The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two _.

_The Triumph of Time_ (UK title: _A Clash of Cymbals_) is the closing work, in which the Universe comes to an end. Blish set the date at AD 4004, possibly in a satirical reference to the year "4004 BC" which had been inferred by Bishop James Ussher
James Ussher
to be the year of the creation of the universe.


Four thousand years in the future, Human civilization has met its first full antagonist — the Green Exarchy. A system of many civilizations ruled by a non-human emperor, the Green Exarch, represents a significant threat to High Earth. The Green Exarch has at his employ the extremely dangerous shapeshifting (protean) agents known as Vombis. The Dirac is still in common use. High Earth
remains the center of Human civilization. That civilization is remarkably advanced — for all practical intents, humans are now immortal. A memory cleanse known as Baptism permits those filled with ennui to begin lives anew, though there are side effects from subconscious recall. A quasi-religious group known as Sagittarians also play a part. The most important financial force in the empire of High Earth is the Traitor's Guild, who permit money to flow from system to system in reward of treachery to system governments, producing a Feudatory system between worlds, though not at the expense of internal stability. Traitors skilfully employ advanced biotechnology to further their aims, and are known to employ fungal cytotoxins, DNA reverse transcription mutation agents (to inject false memories and appearances in order to forestall recognition and testimony during interrogations), as well as technology to petrify dead bodies in order to make up wall fortifications in far offworld planets. The Traitors Guild may be found on all planets (_A Traitor of Quality_, Section in _The Quincunx of Time_ with a lecture about the Traitor's Guild, and _The Green Exarchy_).


Blish coined the term "pantropy " in 1955, to describe the practice of modifying the human form so that it could live in an alien environment. The word has since become the accepted term for the practice.

Blish wrote several short stories on the theme treating it as vastly cheaper than terraforming . They were later collected in the book _The Seedling Stars _. The story "Seeding Program" tells of the beginnings of Pantropy. Another story, "Watershed", makes reference to the planet Lithia, which is the centerpiece of the full-length novel _A Case of Conscience_ in the _After Such Knowledge_ trilogy.

Blish later collaborated with Norman L. Knight on a series of stories, collected in one volume as _A Torrent of Faces_. The collection includes Blish's Nebula-nominated novella "The Shipwrecked Hotel". The stories also provide an example of pantropy, in the modification of humans into a sea-dwelling form known as "Tritons".


_ First publication of A Case of Conscience_, September 1953.

The _After Such Knowledge_ quartet took its the title from a T. S. Eliot quote. Despite being written some years apart, the three books all explore aspects of the price of knowledge,

The first of the four, _ A Case of Conscience _, was a winner of the 1959 Hugo Award as well as 2004/1953 Retrospective Hugo Award for Best Novella, It follows a Jesuit priest confronted with an alien intelligent race, at first sight unfallen and in a state of grace, in which he struggles to interpret its theological manifestation while those around him decide whether to exploit it as a bomb factory. The second, _Doctor Mirabilis _, is a historical novel about the medieval proto-scientist Roger Bacon . The remaining two short novels, _Black Easter _ and _ The Day After Judgment _, involved ritual magic for summoning demons . In _Black Easter_, a powerful industrialist and arms merchant arranges to call up demons and set them free in the world for a night, resulting in nuclear war and the destruction of civilization; _The Day After Judgment_ is devoted to exploring the military and theological consequences.


Main article: Star Trek (Blish)

Blish adapted several episodes of _ Star Trek _ for Bantam Books . They were collected into twelve volumes, and published as a title series of the same name from 1967 to 1977. The adaptations were generally based on draft scripts, often containing additional plot elements or differing situations from the televised episodes. He also wrote an original novel, _ Spock Must Die! _, which was released by Bantam in 1970. His success with the _Star Trek_ titles brought him financial stability for the rest of his life. :21 It has been suggested that volumes after _ Star Trek 6_ were written in collaboration with his wife Judith Lawrence, and her mother, Muriel Lawrence. :25 Blish died before the series was completed. The final volume, _ Star Trek 12_, was co-credited to his wife, J. A. Lawrence . She continued the series with _Mudd's Angels_ in 1978.



* _They Shall Have Stars_ (Faber 1956, Avon T-193 1957 published under the title _Year 2018!_ ) * _A Life for the Stars_ (G. P. Putnam's Sons 1962, Avon H-107 1963) * _Earthman Come Home_ (G. P. Putnam's Sons 1955; Avon T-225 1956, originally published as four short stories) * _The Triumph of Time_, (Avon T-279 1958; published in the UK as _A Clash of Cymbals_ Faber 1959)

A one-volume collection of all four _ Cities in Flight _ books exists, first published in the United States by Avon (1970), (ISBN 0380009986 ) and later in the UK by Arrow (1981), (ISBN 0099264404 ), which includes an analysis of the work (pp. 597 onwards) as an Afterword by Richard D. Mullen, derived from an original article by Leland Shapiro in the publication _Riverside Quarterly_. It is now available in hardcover and trade paperback from Overlook Press.

Outside the United States, a single volume collecting all four books is available from Gollancz as part of its SF Masterworks series. This edition includes a new (2006) introduction by Stephen Baxter; and uses the original United States title _The Triumph of Time_ for _A Clash of Cymbals_. The first two were also collected as _Cities in Flight, Vol. 1_ (1991) and the second two as _Cities in Flight, Vol. 2_ (1991)


* _ A Case of Conscience _ (first section published in _If _ magazine, 1953, expanded version Ballantine 256 1958, Penguin 1966, Arrow 1972), Included in _American Science Fiction: Nine Classic Novels of the 1950s_ Library of America 2012 * _Doctor Mirabilis _ (Faber and Faber 1964, Panther 1976, Avon 1982), about Roger Bacon * _ Black Easter
Black Easter
_ (more correctly titled _Black Easter, or Faust Aleph-null_) (serialized as _Faust aleph-null_ in _If _ magazine 1967, Doubleday 1968, Faber and Faber 1969, Dell 1969, Penguin 1972, Avon SF Rediscovery 27 1977) * _ The Day After Judgment _ (published in _Galaxy magazine _ in 1970, Doubleday 1971, Faber and Faber 1972, Penguin 1974) * _The Devil\'s Day _ (Gregg Press 1990, Baen 1990) collects _Black Easter _ and _ The Day After Judgment _ * _ After Such Knowledge _ (1991, Legend Books)


* _The Star Dwellers_ (G. P. Putnam's Sons 1961, Avon F-122 1962, Faber and Faber 1962, Berkley 1970) * _Mission to the Heart Stars_ (Faber and Faber 1965, G. P. Putnam's Sons 1965, Panther 1980, Avon 1982) — A sequel to _The Star Dwellers_ * _Welcome to Mars!_ (G. P. Putnam's Sons 1967, Faber and Faber 1967, Sphere 1978, Avon 1983) — Dolph Haertel's seminal first flight to Mars. * _Midsummer Century_ (DAW 89 1972) — The Far Future, at the time of Rebirth V. * _ The Quincunx of Time _ (Dell 1973, Faber and Faber 1975, Avon 1983) expansion of "Beep", in which the discovery of the Dirac communicator's universal transmission is made. (_Galaxy_, Feb 1954) * _Jack of Eagles_ (Greenberg 1952, Galaxy 19 1953, as _ESPer_ Avon T-268 1958, Avon 1968, Faber and Faber 1973, Arrow 1975) * _The Night Shapes_ * _The Year 2018!_ * _Titan's Daughter_ * _Fallen Stars_


Main article: Star Trek (Blish)

* _Star Trek_ (Bantam F3459, 1967)

* Variant title: _ Star Trek 1_ (Bantam Q2114, 1975)

* _ Star Trek 2_ (Bantam F3439, 1968) * _ Star Trek 3_ (Bantam F4371, 1969) * _ Spock Must Die! _ (Bantam H5515, 1970) The first _Star Trek_ novel for an adult audience * _ Star Trek 4_ (Bantam S7009, 1971) * _ Star Trek 5_ (Bantam S7300, 1972) * _ Star Trek 6_ (Bantam S7364, 1972) * _ Star Trek 7_ (Bantam S7480, 1972) * _ Star Trek 8_ (Bantam Pathfinder SP7550, 1972) * _ Star Trek 9_ (Bantam Pathfinder SP7808, 1973) * _ Star Trek 10_ (Bantam Pathfinder SP8401, 1974)

* _ Star Trek 11_ (Bantam 1975, Q8717)

* Variant title: _Day of the Dove_ (Bantam ISBN 0-553-25169-4 , 1985)

* _ Star Trek 12_ (Bantam ISBN 0-553-11382-8 , 1977), with J. A. Lawrence

The Star Trek Reader

* _The Star Trek Reader_ (Dutton ISBN 0-8415-0467-9 , 1976)

* Includes volumes _ Star Trek 2, Star Trek 3,_ and _ Star Trek 8._

* _The Star Trek Reader II_ (Dutton ISBN 0-525-20960-3 , 1977)

* Includes volumes _ Star Trek 1_, _ Star Trek 4_, and _ Star Trek 9_.

* _The Star Trek Reader III_ (Dutton ISBN 0-525-20961-1 , 1977)

* Includes volumes _ Star Trek 5_, _ Star Trek 6_, and _ Star Trek 7_.

* _The Star Trek Reader IV_, (Dutton ISBN 0-525-20962-X , 1978)

* Includes _ Star Trek 10_, _ Star Trek 11_ and _ Spock Must Die! _

The Classic Episodes

* _The Classic Episodes 1_ (Bantam Spectra ISBN 0-553-29138-6 , 1991)

* All Season 1 episode adaptations, excluding _Mudd's Women_

* _The Classic Episodes 2_, (Bantam Spectra ISBN 0-553-29139-4 , 1991)

* All Season 2 episode adaptations, excluding _I, Mudd'_

* _The Classic Episodes 3_, (Bantam Spectra, ISBN 0-553-29140-8 , 1991)

* All Season 3 episode adaptations


_ Blish's novelette "And Some Were Savages" was the cover story for the November 1960 issue of Amazing Stories _, illustrated by Ed Emshwiller .

* " There Shall Be No Darkness " (_Thrilling Wonder Stories_, 1950) — horror short story in which guests at a remote country estate discover that one of them is a werewolf. This was filmed as _The Beast Must Die _ (a.k.a. _Black Werewolf_) (1974). * _The Warriors of Day_ (as _Sword of Zota_ 1951, Galaxy 16 1953, Lancer 1967, Avon 1979, Arrow 1979) * " Get Out of My Sky " (novella, 1957) * _Fallen Star_ (Faber and Faber 1957) (also published as _The Frozen Year_, Ballantine 197 1957) — Set in the International Geophysical Year of 1958, it tells the story of a disaster-ridden polar expedition that finds a meteorite containing fossil life forms. * _VOR_ (Avon T-238 1958, Arrow 1979) , {Thrilling Wonder Stories}, Feb 1949] * _Titans' Daughter_ (Berkley G507 1961, Four Square 1963, Avon 1981) (expanded from "Beanstalk" (in _Future Tense_, ed. K. F. Crossen, 1952) * _The Night Shapes_ ( Ballantine F647 1962) * _ The Duplicated Man _ (with R. W. Lowndes, Avalon 1959, Airmont 8 1964) * _A Torrent of Faces_ (with Norman L. Knight, Doubleday 1967, Ace Special
A-29 1968) * _The Vanished Jet_ (Weybright and Talley 1968) * _And All the Stars a Stage_ (Doubleday 1971, Faber and Faber 1972, Avon 1974)


* _ The Seedling Stars _ (Gnome 1957, Signet S1622 1959, Faber and Faber 1967) * _Best Science Fiction Stories of James Blish_ (stories, Faber and Faber 1965). It includes _There Shall Be No Darkness_; the revised 1973 edition removes _There Shall Be No Darkness_ and adds 2 stories from the late 1960s; this revised version was published by Arrow Books in 1977 as _The Testament of Andros_. * _A Work of Art and other stories_ (edited by Francis Lyall;) Severn House 1993) * _A Dusk of Idols and other stories_ (edited by Francis Lyall; Severn House 1996) * _Works of Art_ NESFA (edited by James Mann, introduction by Gregory Feeley; NESFA 2008) * _Flights of Eagles_ (edited by James Mann, foreword by Tom Shippey ; NESFA 2009) * _Galactic Cluster_ (stories, Signet S1719 1959) — Containing among others "Beep", " Common Time " and "Nor Iron Bars". Beep was later expanded to the full length novel, The Quincunx of Time (see also below). The book version of "Nor Iron Bars" combines the original stories "Detour to the Stars" (1956) and "Nor Iron Bars" (1957). The 1960 UK hardback removes three stories from the Signet edition and adds "Beanstalk" (1952); the 1963 UK paperback edition removes three stories from the Signet edition (only two of the three are the same as those removed for the 1960 variation); the 1980 UK paperback uses the 1963 contents and adds "Beanstalk". * _So Close to Home_ (stories, Ballantine 465K 1961) * _Anywhen_ (Doubleday 1970, Faber and Faber 1970, Arrow 1978, Avon 1983) — Contains among others the novelettes _A Style in Treason_ and "A Dusk of Idols" (The 1971 UK edition removes the preface and adds a short story, "Skysign"] * _The Testament of Andros_: "best of" collection.


* _New Dreams This Morning_ (1966) * _ Nebula Award Stories 5 _ (1970) * _Thirteen O'Clock and other zero hours_ (collection of C. M. Kornbluth stories; edited by Blish; 1970)


Blish wrote criticism of science fiction—some quite scathing—under the name of William Atheling, Jr. (derived from a pseudonym used by Ezra Pound for music criticism), as well as reviewing under his own name. The Atheling articles were reprinted in two collections, _The Issue at Hand_ (1964) and _More Issues at Hand_ (1970), and the posthumous _The Tale That Wags The God_ (1987) collects Blish essays.

He was a fan of the works of James Branch Cabell , and for a time edited _Kalki_, the journal of the Cabell Society.

Reviewing _The Issue at Hand_, Algis Budrys described "Atheling" as "acidulous, assertive, categorical, conscientious and occasionally idiosyncratic."


Soon after his death there was a 1976 BSFA Special
Award to Blish for Best British SF.

The British Science Fiction Foundation inaugurated the James Blish Award for SF criticism in 1977, recognizing Brian W. Aldiss, "but it then lapsed for lack of funds".

The Science Fiction and Fantasy
Hall of Fame inducted him in 2002.

* 1959 Hugo Award for _ A Case of Conscience _ "Best Novel " * 1960 Guest of Honor, World Science Fiction Convention * 1965 Nebula Award nomination for "The Shipwrecked Hotel " "Best Novelette " (with Norman L. Knight ) * 1968 Nebula Award nomination for _ Black Easter
Black Easter
_ "Best Novel" * 1969 Hugo Award nomination for "We All Die Naked " "Best Novella " * 1970 Nebula Award nomination for "A Style in Treason " "Best Novella" * 1970 Guest of honor, British Eastercon * 1950/2001 Retro- Hugo Award nomination for "Okie " "Best Novelette" * 1953/2004 Retro- Hugo Award for "Earthman Come Home " "Best Novelette" * 1953/2004 Retro- Hugo Award for " A Case of Conscience " "Best Novella"


* Speculative fiction portal


* ^ Bloom, Harold. "James Blish: 1921-1975", _Science fiction writers of the golden age_, p. 63. Chelsea House , 1995. ISBN 0-7910-2199-8 . " James Blish
James Blish
1921-1975 James Benjamin Blish was born on May 23, 1921, in East Orange, New Jersey, the only child of Asa Rhodes Blish and Dorothea Schneewind Blish." * ^ "Futurians". Fancyclopedia 3. Retrieved July 26, 2013. * ^ James Blish
James Blish
at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB). Retrieved 2013-04-08. Select a title to see its linked publication history and general information. Select a particular edition (title) for more data at that level, such as a front cover image or linked contents. * ^ Science Fiction Citations, Citations for gas giant n. * ^ "1380I James Benjamin Blish, B.Sc., Ed. (***) ". * ^ "Collection Level Description: Books and Papers of James Blish". Retrieved October 15, 2013. * ^ Paul J. Nahin; _Time Travel: A Writer's Guide to the Real Science of Plausible Time Travel_, JHU Press, 2011, pp. 149-150.. _Describes Beep as "classic"._ * ^ _The Science Fiction Encyclopedia_ * ^ Colin Milburn; "Ahead of Time: Gerald Feinberg, James Blish, and the Governance of Futurity", _Histories of the Future_. * ^ Richard L. McKinney; "Pantropy", _The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Themes, Works and Wonders_ (Ed. Gary Westfahl), Volume 2, Pages 579-581. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ "Blish, James" Archived 2012-10-16 at the Wayback Machine .. _The Locus Index to SF Awards: Index to Literary Nominees_. Locus Publications . Retrieved 2013-04-08. * ^ _A_ _B_ Ketterer, David (1987). _Imprisoned in a Tesseract : The Life and Work of James Blish_. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press. ISBN 978-0-87338-334-9 . * ^ Blish, James (1957). _Year 2018!_ (First Avon ed.). 575 Madison Avenue--New York 22, NY: Avon Publications, Inc. access-date= requires url= (help ) * ^ "Galaxy Bookshelf", _Galaxy_ , June 1965, pp.168-69. Reprinted in _Benchmarks: Galaxy Bookshelf_, Southern Illinois University Press, 1985. * ^ "Blish, James". _ The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
_. Online third edition 2011–2012. Retrieved 2013-03-22. * ^ "Science Fiction and Fantasy
Hall of Fame" Archived 2013-05-21 at the Wayback Machine .. Mid American Science Fiction and Fantasy Conventions, Inc. Retrieved 2013-03-22. This was the official website of the hall of fame to 2004.


* Tuck, Donald H. (1974). _ The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
and Fantasy_. Chicago: Advent . pp. 51–53. ISBN 0-911682-20-1 . * Tymn, Marshall B.; Kenneth J. Zahorski; Robert H. Boyer (1979). _ Fantasy
Literature: A Core Collection and Reference Guide_. New York: R.R. Bowker Co. pp. 52–54. ISBN 0-8352-1431-1 .


* _Imprisoned in a Tesseract, the life and work of James Blish_ by David Ketterer ISBN 0-87338-334-6 * _ Fantasy
and Science Fiction _ (April 1972) — "