"The Thing in the Attic" by James Blish






The Thing in the Attic           James Blish is quite a bit less sensational than some of our more recent offerings in "Free Reading".  Yet his accomplishments and contributions to Science Fiction library are no less substantial.  Blish was a multiple Nebula and Hugo nominee, and an early member of The Futurians.  He won two Hugos ultimately, one of them posthumously in 2002.  Before becoming a reknowned Science Fiction writer, Blish attained a degree in Biology from Rutgers University.  He spent two years serving as a med tech during World War II, and then a science editor for Pharma company Pfizer until he was able to fully support himself as a full time writer.  He was first published in "Super Science Stories" by then editor, Frederik Pohl.  During this time despite being a biologist, it was Blish who coined the term "Gas Giant", which is now in common use amongst scientists today.  He also created a universe in which he wrote short story collections and novellas collectively known as "Cities in Flight".  This and another series of stories known as "Haertel Scholium", a term which decsribes the unifying element of all the stories, a "trans-luminal drive" or a "Haertel Overdrive", which allows humans to travel great distances in space, were the two of the three things he became most known for.  The third thing is his serialization and adaptation of the "Star Trek" television series as books.  Despite the numerous other fiction based on the show, Blish is the only person to date, who serialized the actual show.  This week we have Blish's short novel "The Thing in the Attic", about several people who have been branded heretics and exiled from their homes in a treetop civilization.  The story focuses on their harrowing journey of survival.  It has some obvious but powerful commentary about religion.  And interestingly has some excellent parallells between this society and modern Creationists.  Another relevant and timeless pick from the annals of Golden Age Science Fiction.  Overall it is a good story with some wonderful and relevant themes.  The second half is a bit rushed, and the book itself could have stood to be a bit longer considering how short it is.

The Thing in the Attic