Friday, August 13, 2010

I’m Leaving On A Jet Plane

The vanished jet

The Vanished Jet is the next juvenile by James Blish that I read all those years ago.  It’s the story of Stan Dorman and the Sub-Orbital Transport. 
Now even Blish says in the foreword it’s not a SF novel.  And to some degree it isn’t.  But, I think it mostly is.  It’s about a rocket powered jet plane that goes into space as it travels to its destination.  This was a technology of the future when the book was written, and I guess still is.  Blish thought this story would take place in 1975.  No such luck.
It’s mostly an adventure novel with lots of travel color and scenery .  Stan travels to Lithuania to find his missing parents (on the vanished jet) and almost gets captured by the MVD.
He then joins the Hajj to Mecca and at least this time has some help from the US Government come along.
Yes it’s a bit improbable that a teenager would get used by the Air Force as a spy, but you are supposed to suspend your disbelief.  And I think it works.
It’s very well written and I guess either Blish had traveled to these lands, or did a lot of research because the local color, etc comes off well to me. 
Stan,of course, is the hero, and Louise a potential girlfriend is duly impressed. 
A very good read that again shows how major writers like Blish did these books and the results were usually superior.  This is how SF fans got started.  Are the kids of today reading books like this?  Is anyone writing them?  Or is everyone playing video games online? 
Well now you know why I am sometimes known as a curmudgeon. 
Next post, more James Blish juvenile fiction. 
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