Science Fiction Predictions James Blish

About the predictions of major sci-fi writer James Blish from his book Cities in Flight including ones on disease and cures, spaceflight and the cold war.


Predictor: JAMES BLISH

James Blish (1921-1975) is best known for his novel A Case of Conscience, which won a Hugo Award for best novel of the year in 1958. He also wrote 12 Star Trek adaptations toward the end of his life, authored several volumes of SF criticism under the name William Atheling, Jr. (The Issue at Hand and More Issues at Hand), and edited the fifth Nebula Awards anthology. But if Blish is remembered, it will undoubtedly be for his projected history of the future, Cities in Flight, published originally as a series of short stories and novels. The idea is simple: If you have antigravity, you can move anything, so why not an entire city? Blish carried the idea to its logical conclusion and moved the cities of Earth off into outer space. Then, using Spengler's concept of history as an unending series of cycles of rising and falling civilizations, he created a logically extrapolated history of the future, from modern times to 4104 A.D.


Published originally as four books: Earthman, Come Home (1955), They Shall Have Stars (1956), The Triumph of Time (1958), and A Life for the Stars (1962).

Successful Predictions:

* Synthetic narcotics by 2013 A.D.

Future Predictions:

* Space stations by 1981.

* Discovery of the hitherto unknown 10th planet of the solar system, Proserpine (2000 A.D.), and the building of a station there.

* Space travel to Jupiter and the construction of an experimental station on its surface (2013).

* Robot evangelists (2013).

* 3-D tape recordings.

* A cure for viral leukemia.

* Use of orphans as experimental subjects for medical investigation.

* Cures for cancer and other degenerative diseases.

* Development of the spindizzy (an antigravity machine) and subsequent travel to the stars (2020).

* Human longevity through the development of an antideath drug to stop the slow internal deterioration of the human body (2018).

* Computer-directed teaching labs where students learn via hypnotic instruction while asleep.

* The Russians conquer the U.S. (2027).

* Spaceflight temporarily banned (2039).

* Worldwide governmental oppression on Earth (2105).

* First contact with alien races (2289).

* First interstellar war (2310).

* Spindizzy is rediscovered, and Earthmen reach out again to the stars (2375). The spindizzy projects an antigravitational field that can be limited to a certain object or locale; hence, entire cities can move themselves into space as individual units, traveling to the stars as giant individual spaceships. A gradual depopulation of Earth begins.

* Armed cities from Earth defeat the alien races (2413).

* The governmental bureaucracy on Earth collapses (2522).

* Alois Hrunta, an admiral of the space navy established by colonists from Old Earth, revolts against the control of the interstellar government and takes his fleet into an uninhabited sector of space, where he sets himself up as emperor (2464-3089).

* New York, the last of Earth's big cities, goes into space.

* Development of communication devices which allow messages to be transmitted instantaneously throughout the galaxy.

* Giant ray guns used as weapons (blasters).

* Space battles between Earth and the cities which have abandoned it (3975).

* Final defeat of the aliens (3975).

* Earth ceases to be a galactic power (3976).

* New York moves out of our Milky Way Galaxy to the Greater Magellanic Cloud, a satellite star cluster not far distant (3978-3998).

* Colonization of New Earth, a planet in the Magellanic system (3999).

* The Web of Hercules, a new alien race, becomes the fourth great civilization of the Milky Way Galaxy, displacing the human race (3976-4104).

* Cataclysmic end of the universe (4104).

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