Is it important to read the four books in order? (are they merely set in the same 'universe', or is it on ongoing saga?)

I've just picked up the fourth book, and I've enjoyed the first few chapters but don't want to continue just yet, in case there's a bigger picture I'm missing.

Missing minor details is fine, but if there's an ongoing storyline I'll seek out the other titles before starting. For example there's little to be gained from reading Asimov's empire series (imo) in order, but it's vital his (first) foundation trilogy is.

I'm trying to avoid checking Wiki, Goodreads, etc. due to possible spoilers.


1 Answer 1


It's an ongoing story but the books are reasonably disconnected and can mostly be read in isolation.

The first book is deep background from the pre-spaceflight era and may even be omitted if you're not interested in that kind of thing. It tells the story of the invention of the spindizzy and the anti-agathic drugs.

The second tells an early story of New York and one of it's earlier prominent characters. Again, it's reasonably disconnected, but if you read them out of order the third one spoilers it a bit.

The third and fourth books are more closely linked.

The whole series has been published in a nice omnibus format a number of times (most recently IIRC as part of the "Sci-fi Masterworks" collection, although I have a much older edition), it should be easily found in any bookstore with a good sci-fi section, so I'd personally recommend seeking that out and reading them in order, although - as I indicated above - the first two, while part of the story, are disconnected enough that they can be skipped or read later as prequels if you wish. The third and fourth should definitely be read in order.

  • 1
    I agree with this. Also, you can find a pretty high-level synopsis for each book here. You won't come across major spoilers if you read them out of order; templetongate.net/cities-in-flight.htm
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 9, 2014 at 16:57
  • Thank you both. I've enjoyed most of the Masterworks series so I think that''ll be the best option. Although I'm a sucker for 2nd hand bookshops - slightly worn with a 'classic' cover, which is where I got the above. Cheers!
    – queeg
    Commented Aug 9, 2014 at 18:42
  • @queeg - you're welcome. If you want to go pre-loved, this is the edition I have: gemm.com/graphics_books_nz/8E/8EWLH0Q5CCJL.jpg
    – user8719
    Commented Aug 9, 2014 at 19:20
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    I think it's helpful to read the first novel first, so you're clear about what a spindizzy is. After that it matters a lot less, as the stories stand alone pretty well. FWIW, I read then in order 1, 4, 3, 2 and don't think I missed much by doing so.
    – Mike Stone
    Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 8:47

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