James Blish

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James Blish was a visionary science fiction author, whose work left an indelible mark on the genre. He is best known for his Bantam Books Star Trek novelizations, which were based on the iconic television show’s draft scripts. However, his contributions to science fiction extend far beyond these adaptations. Blish was a prolific writer of original speculative fiction, and many of his novels and short stories were nominated for prestigious Hugo and Nebula Awards.

Blish had a unique talent for writing dialogue that was both convincing and engaging. This is particularly evident in his work “To Pay the Piper,” a thrilling post-apocalyptic spy story that takes place in a subterranean world. The story is an impressive example of hard science fiction, with a plot that is rooted in the principles of immunology and medical science. The dialogue is generated by just three characters, yet it is rich and convincing, leaving readers on the edge of their seats.

In addition to his impressive writing, Blish is also credited with coining the term “Gas Giant,” which has become a widely used term in astronomy to refer to large gaseous astronomical bodies. His work and contributions to the field of science fiction are a testament to his exceptional imagination and creativity

To Pay the Piper by James Blish

There’s science fiction and there’s hard science fiction. For fans of science fiction, “To Pay the Piper” is a must-read. This thrilling short story will transport you to a post-apocalyptic world that is both believable and exciting. Blish’s mastery of dialogue, his knowledge of science and medicine, and his ability to create an immersive and thought-provoking story, make this one of the most memorable works of the 1950s and beyond. So, if you’re looking for a great science fiction read that’s both thought-provoking and action-packed, look no further than “To Pay the Piper” by James Blish.

An Illustration from the magazine publication of To Pay the Piper by James Blish

Here is a 5 minute audio sample of my narration of the James Blish story: To Pay the Piper

A 5 minute sample from To Pay the Piper by James Blish

The full story is 33 minutes and 19 seconds long and is the 10th story in Incredible Science Fiction: Amazing Tales from the ’50s and Beyond Volume Two:


This is a promotional flyer for my 100 Greatest Science Fiction Novels of All Time project. It shows the text "100 Greatest Science Fiction Novels of All Time" In the Impact Font. It's set against a galactic background and has a 1950s style red rocket flying on the right hand side of the image.
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