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Midsummer Century

Written By:James Blish - 1972

  • Midsummer Century - James Blish cover

    Daw - 1st Printing - Feb 1974

  • Midsummer Century - James Blish cover

    Doubleday - 1972


Synopsis

Daw - 1st Printing - Feb 1974

In the year 25,000 A.D.

When John Martels returned to consciousness he found himself the Delphic Oracle of a world far different from the Twentieth Century. Humanity had risen and fallen three times and was back once again in a semi-primitive 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.

Doubleday - 1972

A novel of chilling visionary perception in which the future and the present meet with startling results.

The year is 25,000 A.D. when the earth is in a tropical phase. Its inhabitants are atavistic tribesmen who have become mystical, ritualistic and death-oriented-too obsessed with the afterlife, in fact, to defend themselves effectively against their very real enemies, the Birds. And Birds have evolved dangerously into sentient, intelligent creatures whose chief aim is to exterminate man, and it looks as if they'll succeed before very long.

Into this troubled world comes john Martels, a twentieth century scientist projected into the future by a freak accident. There he finds that it requires all of his twentieth century wits merely to survive in his strange new environment. But Martels' most frightening discovery comes when his desperate attempt to rally mankind against the Birds leaves the way open for his destruction.

Excerpt

Daw - 1st Printing - Feb 1974

The birds are watching

The next day they saw three more of the sparrow-like birds, and the next day, five. And the morning after that, they emerged from their sleeping burrow to find a smoke-black thing like an enormous crow looking down upon them, just out of club's reach, its head bent, its neck extended until it seemed almost snakelike; its eyes glassy and unblinking.

Memories of Macbeth and Edgar Allen Poe would have made Martels shudder had he been in his right body, but Tlam was still nominally in charge, and he froze again. For very disparate reasons, neither of the two minds was surprised when the bird's beak parted, its throat ruffled and pulsed, and it said in a voice like fingernails on a blackboard:

"GO HOME."

Doubleday - 1972

"... The bird bobbed up and down, its claws clinging to the outermost end of the low branch, cocking its head flirting its feathers, and occasionally interrupting its regard to groom itself...

It was hard to believe that such a thing could be dangerous, but cancer viruses also came in small packages. Tlam remained frozen for several minutes after it had vanished, and thereafter moved with still greater caution, constantly shooting glances from side to side and up and down with a quickness which was in itself almost birdlike. Nor was he wrong; for the next day they saw three more of the sparrow-like birds, and the next day, five. And the morning after that, they emerged from their sleeping burrow to find a smoke-black thing like an enormous crow looking down upon them, just out of club's reach, its head bent, its neck extended until it seemed almost snakelike; its eyes glassy and unblinking.

Memories of Macbeth and Edgar Allan Poe would have made Martels shudder had he been in his right body, but Tlam was still nominally in charge, and he froze again. For very disparate reasons, neither of the two minds was surprised when the bird's beak parted, its throat ruffled and pulsed, and it said in a voice like fingernails on a blackboard:

'Gohome.'"

Blurb

Daw - 1st Printing - Feb 1974

"An engrossing book. Recommended." —Theodore Sturgeon

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.

Doubleday - 1972

Midsummer Century is written with James Blish's usual skill and imagination. It is bizarre and provocative fantasy with a truly unexpected conclusion.

Catastrophe:

war

Type:

fantastical