Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Book Review: Galactic Cluster

Just before we moved to our new apartment [1], I was driving past Pioneer Book (which is on State Street in Orem, now) and noticed that they were having a book sale. Specifically, for $25 you could purchase as many paperback books as you could fit into the brown paper bag they provided you (this excluded certain high-demand authors). I took the bait. I had a harder time finding books I wanted than I expected. So I began considering authors whom I was unfamiliar with, but who were well represented on the shelves. One of these was James Blish. Since I've never read anything of his before, I only selected one of his books. As it turns out, it wasn't actually a novel, but a collection of short stories he published in the 1950s.

My verdict: The first few short stories were a little lacking. But after that they pick up and are pretty good. James Blish writes science fiction, so all of the short stories are of that persuasion. My favorite was "To Pay the Piper". One thing that he mentioned surprised me: that farmers were using tetracycline antibiotics to increase the weight of their cattle. I had no idea that that was already going on in the 1950s![2] Based on this experience, I would be willing to read some of his longer fiction.


[1] See my post entitled Out of the Old and Into the New.

[2] Part of the reason this surprises me is that tetracyclines were only discovered in 1945 and first synthesized in 1950. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetracycline#History.

Image attributions:

Galactic Wreckage in Stephan's Quintet is by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/3904168904/.

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