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Literature / Manhattan Transfer

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One sunny day aliens suddenly arrive, rip the island of Manhattan out of New York City, tuck it away in their spacecraft and leave as quickly as they appeared.

This novel by John E. Stith follows the unlucky residents and folks who happened to be visiting Manhattan that day as they are ripped from the earth, put in a giant spacecraft with a dome over top of them, provided electricity and "food" and pretty much left alone on a vast, interior plain dotted with other, distant, domed, obviously alien cities. The novel deals with their efforts to discover why they have been taken.

Not to be confused with The Manhattan Transfer, a jazz, swing, R&B and pop group founded in 1969.

Tropes in this book:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: See Big Bad.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The humans pick up one of these being broadcast from a nearby city.
  • Artificial Gravity
  • Big Bad: The Archies built a automated terraforming spacecraft which they can't stop - they can only run ahead of it and save small populations.
  • Big Dumb Object: The spaceship which has captured Manhattan is over 100 kilometers in diameter.
  • Cover Drop: The cover shows the titular city encased in a dome and being lifted into the sky. Turns out this quite literally happens around chapter two.
  • Curse Cut Short: A helicopter pilot is in the wrong place at the wrong time and:
    The pilot hadn't even had time to utter the one word traditionally heard as black box recordings terminate.
  • Dénouement: Averted - the Big Bad is resolved and the book ends on the next page.
  • Dog Food Diet: New York's captors provide the humans something kind of like pet chow.
  • Driven to Suicide: One of the other races in the domed cities is found to have already committed mass suicide because the alien kidnappers grabbed an entire city of one gender.
  • Inertial Dampening: Implied. Manhattan is lifted giving the occupants the feeling of "an elevator rising", but at that actual speed it would take hours to get the 200 miles up out of earth's atmospherenote . Manhattan is lifted fairly quickly - quick enough that the buildings would surely topple due to the inertial stresses.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: The captors don't seem to be very interested in keeping an eye on the races they are abducting to save from their own incompetence, though to be fair they're on a bit of a rushed schedule.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Richard
  • Informed Attribute: Matt is awesome. He's the best there is. Just take our word for it.
  • One-Gender Race: Averted, actually. The Archies took one building from a planet, not realizing that the race segregated their genders by building. Having no females, they all eventually committed suicide.
  • Planet Looters: but actually they mean well.
  • Plot Time: It's a little hard to work out how much time has passed by the end of the book. While it seems like possibly a week or so for the explorers, back in New York a long time seems to pass.
  • Red Shirt: Pretty much anyone from whose Point of View we watch Manhattan get taken but don't end up going with it.
  • Sensory Overload: Electronic equipment is really loud to one of the other dome's races.
  • Shout-Out: (Possibly) to Superman's enemy Brainiac, who stole whole cities from planets for ransom.
    • Or maybe to this famous Boston Album cover [1].
  • Starfish Aliens: Several kinds.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: It's far enough into the future from the publication date of 1993 that they have tiny memory disks and something mentioned in passing called a "VirtReal Simulation", but the World Trade Center is still standing and there's no mention of The Internet.