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In James Blish's Cities in Flight novel, Earthman Come Home, what was the original name of the rogue city known as IMT (Interstellar Master Traders)? Did Blish expect that the alert reader would be able to work out what it was from the description of IMT and its "Proctors" given in the novel?

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  • Comment, not an answer since I'm not certain, but since Earthman, Come Home was written first of the series, I don't think so.
    – DavidW
    Mar 25, 2023 at 13:51
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    Wikipedia suggests Gravitogorsk-Mars but no source is given and I do not have my copy to hand.
    – Paulie_D
    Mar 25, 2023 at 15:30

1 Answer 1

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The original name of the city known as "the Mad Dogs" was Gravitogorsk-Mars, or at least that is the earliest name recorded.

According to A Life For the Stars, Chapter Four: "Schoolroom in the Sky", A history lesson included:

...In 2394 one of the escaping cities, Gravitogorsk-Mars, now calling itself the Interstellar Master Traders, was responsible for the sacking of the new Earth colony on Thor V: this act of ferocity earned for them the nickname of 'the Mad Dogs', but it gradually became a model for dealing with Vegan planets...

As it happens, my copy of Cities in Flight (1970) happens to have a makeshift bookmark inserted at the page with this history lesson.

Since A Life For the Stars is the second novel in fictional order, but the last written, anyone who wants to search though the section of the earliest written novel, Earthman, Come Home with the Interstellar Master Traders will probably find a references to the city's original name of Gravitogorsk-Mars.


The real city of Magnitogorsk was rapidly expanded and developed as a steel-making city in the 1930s. The name of Gravitogorsk-Mars was obviously inspired by Magnitogorsk.

Magnitogorsk (Russian: Магнитого́рск, IPA: [məɡnʲɪtɐˈɡorsk], lit. '[city] of the magnetic mountain') is an industrial city in Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia, on the eastern side of the extreme southern extent of the Ural Mountains by the Ural River. Its population is 407,775 (2010 Census).

It was named after Mount Magnitnaya, a geological anomaly that once consisted almost completely of iron ore, around 55% to 60% iron.

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  • Imagine an entire planet populated by vegans!? No wonder you'd want to sack them rather than deal with them.
    – davidbak
    Mar 26, 2023 at 18:20
  • @dvidback That's Vegans from Vega II, not vegans. Apr 17, 2023 at 16:25
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    Whatever. My comment is fine as it stands. Without reference to any book.
    – davidbak
    Apr 17, 2023 at 16:33

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