So Close to Home

By James Blish

Rating: 3 stars

The stories in this collection by James Blish were mostly written in the early ’50s, not long after the Second World War, and the memory of the atomic bomb was clearly still recent, as it permeates this collection. One of the stories directly concerns a potential nuclear bomb dropped into Manhattan bay, one is set following a nuclear war and others also reference atomic warfare in more subtle ways.

The stories are mostly interesting, although the last one, Testament of Andros failed to engage with me at all. It seemed to go somewhere to start with, then seemed to change direction and finish somewhere in the middle of nowhere.

My favourite story was probably either The Abattoir Effect where a PR person for a private blood registry discovers that everybody with a very rare blood group is being killed off, to cover the murder of one specific person, or The Oath about relatively high-tech survivors of a nuclear war searching for additional medical personnel to complement their number, and the problems persuading one particular poet-cum-doctor to join them.

This is a fairly solid collection from a good author, even if it has dated somewhat, as the references to bomb and cold war demonstrate.

Book details

Publisher: Ballantine Books
Year of publication: 1961

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