"Everything starts as somebody's daydream. And, when you're daydreaming, it is science fiction. It's when you start work out how you put it together, true science fiction becomes real science."
The anti-agathics were part of what made interstellar space flight possible in the novel; the administrators and essential personnel of the cities received the necessary treatments.
Fans aren't sure what Blish was doing in using the greek root "agathos" in this context, since "agathos" means "good". Here's a roundabout explanation, though. Remember that the characters in the novel are talking about a kind of toxin. It turns out that there is a substance called agathic acid that is found in pine needles. Cows that eat too much of these needles sometimes undergo a spontaneous abortion. Agathic acid is an abortifacient; it terminates life. So an anti-agathic - would preserve life? Anyway, nobody knows what Blish really meant.
If you'd like to learn more about it, see this absurdly detailed article at The Oikofuge.
...So I have to throw my hands in the air and acknowledge that Blish just seems to have plain made up some vaguely Greek-sounding names for his anti-death drugs, and evidently didn’t try to keep track of his coinings from one story to the next. But at the time of revision, Blish must have noticed that he’d used three different words in four different stories, and presumably he was aware that he had no sensible etymology to defend even his final choice. He seems to have left us a hint to that effect, in a couple of lines of dialogue he added to the ending of They Shall Have Stars when it was first published in 1956. The lines don’t appear in either of the original short stories that were combined to make the novel:
Compare to young blood - new blood for old from Methuselah's Children (1941) by Robert Heinlein, the Sprung-Samser treatment from This Immortal (1966) by Roger Zelazny, conscious retarded animation from A Race Through Time (1933) by Donald Wandrei and the anti-Tri-D shot from The Morning of the Day They Did It (1950) by E.B. White.
Want to Contribute an
Eviation Alice Electric Plane First Flight
'A white electric plane approached at great speed...'
Hotels Turn To Robots As Human Workers Regroup
'Chain of hotels that specialized in non-human service.'
Changesite Mineral To Be Mined On Moon By China
'But then... not every bulldozer operator works on the Moon.'
Tongue-Controlled Tong Wearable Mouth Computer
'Griff found the white and pink map distracting and switched it off using his tongue mouse.'
Is It Better To Be Short?
'He was one of the smaller, energy-saving new breed...'
Taikonaut Tai Chi Foot Loops
'Jimmy Cardigan and Harlowe, staring through the darkside port, had their feet in the foot-loops...'
Space Billboards Would Ruin Our View Of The Cosmos
'But the rising sign, as it had been designed to do, held his eyes. A vast circle of scarlet stars came up into the greenish desert dusk.'
Orion's 'Skip-to-M'Lou' Entry
'A lightning pilot possibly could land that tin toy without power and still walk away from it provided he had the skill to play Skip-to-M’Lou in and out of the atmosphere...'
MarsCat and MetaCat, Your Robot Cat Companions
'It was you who betrayed me — you and your robot cat.'
Mars Mission Using Nuclear Thermal Propulsion
'with its atomic engine as noiseless as a dancing sunbeam...'
|Home | Glossary
| Science Fiction Timeline | Category | New | Contact
Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™
Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.