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Blish, James

(US, 1921–75)

Blish made good use of his specialism in biology in some of the earliest science fiction novels to deal with genetic engineering. In his classic short story, ‘A Case of Conscience’, a Jesuit priest, confronted with the discovery of an apparently sinless alien world, is forced to conclude that it has been created by the Devil to delude mankind into a loss of faith. This was expanded into a novel (1958) and became the centrepiece of a loose quartet whose other elements are a fictional biography of Roger Bacon, Doctor Mirabilis (1964), and a pair of novellas describing what happens to Earth when a black magician liberates Hell's imprisoned demons onto it. Four earlier novels which together make up a panoramic space opera, have been reissued as Cities in Flight (1999). Blish was one of the most rigorous and entertaining employers of science fiction as a medium for thought experiments.

Arthur C. Clarke, Aldous Huxley  RP

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionBooks & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (A-Bo)