This is the first book of a quartet, written in 1956, about space exploration around and beyond our solar system. Like in The Expanse series or say Rendezvous with Rama, humans in this book have colonized the planets of the solar system and have begun to grow stagnant with those achievements. There begins a series of developments that would allow interstellar travel and mass driving capabilities, and moreover, this would allow whole cities to be uprooted and converted into their own spaceships, so to speak.
And all of this would take place by 2020. Wait.
This book has the same balance issue that I find a lot of early science fiction does, which both an attempt to take on the scientific questions inherent to their conceits, but also a bad habit to fall into abject silliness at times. It’s a very short book that I was already kind of blegh on halfway through (to be I’m blegh reading (with my eyes, not my ears) most books right now — having a “the world is going to shit” doldrums about life right now), so I am not entirely enthused by this one. I think I will pack it away for now and read it in the fall maybe to continue. It has in my mind the same issue other books have which is…even if the subject matter is interesting, the story itself has to be compelling, and I didn’t really find the story here all that compelling. So it might end up being a case where the first book has to lay the groundwork for the later books to bring home. The problem with that is I did recently read a first of series that did that so well: Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress.