James Blish’s galaxy-spanning masterwork, originally published in four volumes, explores a future in which two crucial discoveries – antigravity devices which enable whole cities to be lifted from the Earth to become giant spaceships, and longevity drugs which enable their inhabitants to live for thousands of years – lead to the establishment of a unique Galactic empire.
A giant airship over 2000 feet long, powered by a nuclear reactor. Carrying 400 passengers, as well as cargo, it’s the first of a luxury fleet that could revolutionise long-distance travel. The public must be convinced it is safe, but there are powerful groups determined to see the first flight become a spectacular disaster. Michael Colino is hired to thwart sabotage attempts on the maiden voyage…and unless he can avert imminent catastrophe, America’s biggest city will become a graveyard.
In the year 25,000 AD When John Martels returned to consciousness he found himself the Delphic Oracle of a world far different from the Twentieth Century. Humanity has risen and fallen three times and was back once again in a semi-primative state. He shared his oracular powers with a mind and a device left over from the last Rebirth, but the real problem was not rebuilding civilization, it was that another genus of creatures had arisen to claim inheritance of the world – the evolved. Strangely intelligent birds, whose priority was the elimination of the world’s former masters. The problem of man versus bird, complicated by the question of John’s personal survival, presents a canvas worthy of the diverse talents of the author of A Case of Conscience and Cities in Flight.
The four novellas in Quatrain are set in worlds of Archangel, Heart of Gold, Summers at Castle Auburn, and Mystic and Rider. “Flight” follows a former angel-seeker who used to be in love with the Archangel Raphael and now is determined to keep her beautiful niece from making her same mistakes. “Blood” is the story of a fierce young gulden man who comes to the city to seek his mother, whom he hasn’t seen since he was a boy and she ran away from his abusive father. In “Gold,” a crown princess escapes the hazards of war by hiding among the fairylike aliora, where she encounters an altogether different sort of danger. And in “Flame,” the mystic Senneth uses her magic to save a little girl, an act that wins her new friends but puts her own life at risk.