Stranded on an alien planet, light years from home, wandering from blistering heat to searing cold, Nils Kruger was not a happy man. So when he met another being — even though it wasn’t human — things seemed to be looking up. The alien might be helpless, or it might be dangerous, but one thing was for sure — they stood a better chance for survival if they worked together. But as the two creatures overcame their mutual suspicion, as they worked together, as the language barrier was broken down, Nils came to a terrifying conclusion — this alien was more intelligent than a human. And to it, Nils was the alien…
Discover MESKLIN — Gravity: 3g at the equator, 700g at the poles!
Hal Clement is a Grand Master of SF, and the one most associated with the subgenre of hard SF. From his classic stories in Astounding in the 1940s through his novels of the 1950s and on to the recent , he has made a lasting impression on SF readers, and on writers, too. For many of them, Clement’s work is the model of how to write hard SF, and this book contains the reasons why. Here are all the tales of bizarre, unforgettable Mesklin: the classic novel and its sequel, , as well as the short stories “Under” and “Lecture Demonstration.” Also included is “Whirligig World,” the famous essay Clement published in Astounding in 1953. It describes the rigorous process he used to create his intriguingly plausible high-gravity planet, with its odd flattened shape, its day less than eighteen minutes long, and its many-limbed, noble natives. Come to Mesklin and learn why called “one of the best loved novels in SF.”
An expedition team of scientists is exploring the planet Mercury. The constant rumblings of earthquakes and wind have shaken their ship, the Albireo. A small explorative party departs on tractors. It’s then when the volcanic reaction starts. And it looks like the end of the team unless man’s intelligence can beat the malevolent nature of a fiery planet!
A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma ...
Enigma 88, a tiny planet in the orbit of Arc, is a world with so little mass that it should have no atmosphere. But it does—and to find out why is the final study assignment that will earn five students, each the best of their species, their prestigious Respected Opinion degrees.
But from the moment they arrive on Enigma, none of their careful calculations seem to fit; on the surface, the riddle seems insoluble. And when one of their wind robots disappears surface, closely followed by the Human, Molly, they find the mystery is indeed inside Enigma. For the vast subterranean network of caves and tunnels Molly tumbles into supports a rich profusion of life-life that can’t possibly exist ...
The blockbuster new novel by science fiction great Hal Clement, set in an alien-run universe created by Isaac Asimov himself. This is the story of six vastly different starfaring races coexisting under a precarious truce — an interstellar community to which the human race has recently been added.
Well known as the author of MISSION OF GRAVITY, CYCLE OF FIRE, CLOSE TO CRITICAL and for his many other extraordinarily realistic creations of extraterrestrials, it is remarkable that Hal Clement's novelettes have never appeared in book form before. — Here are three of the best — each dealing with a different aspect of communication with creatures so alien to mankind that the first thing to do is throw speech out the window!
Shrouded in eternal gloom by its own thick atmosphere, Tenebra was a hostile planet: a place of crushing gravity, 370-degree temperatures, a constantly shifting crust and giant drifting raindrops. Uncompromising—yet there was life, intelligent life on Tenebra. For more than twenty years, Earth scientists had studied the natives from an orbiting laboratory and had even found a way to train and educate a few of them.
Hal Clement, the dean of hard science fiction, has written a new planetary adventure in the tradition of his classic . It is the kind of story that made his reputation as a meticulous designer of otherworldly settings that are utterly convincing because they are constructed from the ground up using established principles of orbital mechanics, geology, chemistry, biology, and other sciences.
Kainui is one of a pair of double planets circling a pair of binary stars. Mike Hoani has come there to study the language of the colonists, to analyze its evolution in the years since settlement. But Kainui is an ocean planet. Although settled by Polynesians, it is anything but a tropical paradise. The ocean is 1,700 miles deep, with no solid ground anywhere. The population is scattered in cities on floating artificial islands with no fixed locations. The atmosphere isn’t breathable, and lightning, waterspouts, and tsunamis are constant. Out on the great planetary ocean, self-sufficiency is crucial, and far from any floating city, on a small working-family ship, anything can happen. There are, for instance, pirates. Mike’s academic research turns into an exotic nautical adventure unlike anything he could have imagined.
The family is allied with an alien, an octopus-like being who can survive in the new atmosphere. Humans must live in shelters with oxygen-generating plants, or use suitable breathing equipment. Some of Earth's original life forms have mutated to survive in the changed atmosphere. Since almost no metals can exist in the corrosive atmosphere, any technology is based on ceramics or glass.
Some humans are suspicious of the aliens, and even blame them for the change to the atmosphere, since they seem to be adapted for it. The family have an almost fatal encounter with a group of such people, who are holding another alien hostage. However, the two aliens are able to pool memories biochemically, so that they become the same personality in two bodies. Their combined knowledge and skills help the humans to escape.
At the end the aliens reveal that they are basically tourists or scientists, and they travel from one system to another over thousands of years. Atmospheres "mature" when the nitrogen absorbs all the oxygen, the cause being the inevitable evolution of bacteria that use gold to catalyze the reaction. It is hinted, but not stated outright, that human mining of gold triggered this reaction.
Iceworld is a humorously pointed novel of clashing perspectives, which we may designate as hot versus cold. Even for readers who have not seen H. R. van Dongen's fine cover painting for the novel's first installment in Astounding, Hal Clement does not keep us long in suspense that the planet which is unaccessible because of its climate of extreme cold is our own Earth. In contrast, the dismayed observer, the alien Sallman Ken (also on the cover, not to scale!), is truly hot-blooded. Clement genially introduces mitigating circumstances:
Earth, really, is not as bad as all that. Some people are even quite fond of it. Ken, of course, was prejudiced, as anyone is likely to be against a world where water is a liquid — when he has grown up breathing gaseous sulfur and, at rare intervals, drinking molten copper chloride.
The mitigating circumstances are mutual, because we have two viewpoint threads alternating here, that of Sallman Ken who is evolved to live comfortably on his quite hot home-planet; Ken is a science teacher, not a scientist or expert but possessing a good general scientific knowledge. The other viewpoint is that of several members of a Terrestrial family who of course are evolved to live comfortably on our quite cold planet. The characters all are engaging, and Iceworld weaves their viewpoints, thoughts, and actions very well. The family on Earth includes young people of various ages, so this is a fine novel for teenagers as well as adults.
Sallman Ken has been brought to Earth — or at least as close to it as the Iceworld’s destructive climate will allow — to solve a technical problem for a criminal syndicate of his race. They want a product found on Earth, one which is extremely valuable but so far unsynthesizable. What is it, in its natural state? How to boost their profits by getting or creating more of it? As defined, a general scientific problem, which is why the syndicate has engaged a schoolteacher with an all-around scientific knowledge. This in fact is Clement's own background and profession, so despite Ken's alienness, his character is drawn true to life.
The obvious physical barrier and scientific challenge is the scarcely imaginable temperature contrast between the aliens and the world of their interest. A differently tricky difficulty is that the rather unadventurous Ken has been talked into acting as an undercover investigator for his homeworld police. Naturally, the humans on the ground have their own motivations.
Clement’s was the engaging tale of the adventures of Barlennan, a sea captain among his caterpillar-like people, on the high-gravity world of Mesklin. In Barlennan and his sailors go with humans to the even stranger world of Dhrawn, a “crusted star” of the type mentioned by Harlow Shapley. Dhrawn circles the feeble red star Lalande 21185, which actually exists (although the planet is fictionalized). Most of the book is the story of a huge landship crossing Dhrawn’s solid surface crewed by these nonhuman sailors, amidst bizarre dangers, and trying to keep Barlennan’s strange plan secret from humans. The characters, despite being mostly from Barlennan’s world, Mesklin, are well drawn and the setting is well realized. Readers bewildered by the melting and freezing of Dhrawn’s ammonia-water hydrosphere will do well to consult a phase diagram.
Nominated for Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1971.
Two alien races lived under a single sun, someplace across the galaxy, sharing their world… sharing life itself. For they lived together in a partnership more perfect than any other known to the intelligences of the galaxy. Together, the two races became one, each deriving from the other that which made him greater than his individual self. Host and symbiote, they lived together, shared together… two bodies in one. For the one race was symbiotic, amorphous, able to enter the body of the other.
Then one symbiote turned Criminal, and his race could not rest until he was tracked down. But the Criminal could hide in any living thing… and on Earth there were over two billion humans alone!
HAL CLEMENT blends a masterpiece of science fiction with a story of pure detection to produce his best novel, and one of the most famous s-f novels of the past quarter-century.
The world’s energy was limited… and with overpopulation and a high level of technology, the Power Board had virtually become the real government of the world. Power was rationed, it was guarded, it was sacred. Thus when three of the Power Board’s agents disappeared at sea, and there was evidence that something irregular was happening to the energy quota in that area, it was cause for real alarm.