Rare Books Highlights: The Future is Now

Blish, James. Year 2018. New York, Avon, 1957. Call number: PS3503.L64 Y4x 1957b

Welcome to the future! You probably thought we were already well into the future, considering that we have already passed many science fiction milestones designating THE FUTURE with its array of wonders or horrific dystopias, such as 1984, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and even 2015, the future year that Marty McFly visits in Back to the Future Part II. (Where are our flying cars and *real* hover boards?) If that is the case, then I’m afraid you were missing one other important science fiction future date: Year 2018! by James Blish.

Illustration of Jupiter, a man in a space suit, and a bridge across an expanse of colorful swirls of gases.

Paperback cover of the book “Year 2018!” by James Blish, published 1957.

Year 2018! was released in 1957 in paperback. It was first published in hardcover in England a year earlier under the title They Shall Have Stars and is the first of Blish’s Cities in Flight series. In a foreword, Blish writes that “Avon Publications has kindly allowed me to second-guess this novel, however, so the present version differs somewhat from the British edition.” It is a dystopian novel, which the blurb on the back of the book sums up this way:

In the year 2018…

Man undertook the most amazing project in human history–a bridge on Jupiter!

In that frozen, raging, gaseous Hell, the Spacemen built a colossal, monstrous bridge out of sheer Ice IV–30 miles high, 8 miles wide, and ever growing in its incredible length.

What was the purpose of this fantastic project?

What was the secret that lurked behind the stars?

Only one man knew–SENATOR WAGONER of Alaska, who controlled the U.S. Space Flight Corps–and possessed the most tormenting knowledge in the Universe!

I don’t know about you, but I’m intrigued! Maybe some new reading material to add to your 2018 reading list?

ISU Special Collections holds this title as part of the Margaret Young Science Fiction Collection.

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