Sunday, June 24, 2007

Aaron's Book of the Week :: Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement

Mission of GravityThe Book of the Week is Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement, one of several classics of science fiction first published in 1953. This is a signed copy of the first paperback printing, Galaxy Science Fiction Novel No. 33, cover art by Wallace A. Wood. (Incidentally, we'll return to the "Galaxy" line of SF novels in future BOTWs. Galaxy novels had an interesting history, switching over time from digest books to standard paperbacks to science fictional pornography. )

"Hal Clement" was the pen name of Harry C. Stubbs, a pioneer of "hard" science fiction, in which rigorously applied scientific principles are central to the story. Mission of Gravity is Hal Clement's most famous novel, set on a supermassive, rapidly rotating planet inhabited by intelligent, centipede-like creatures adapted to the world's high surface gravity.

Clement was named Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 1998. Always charming and friendly, Clement was a favorite at science fiction conventions. In 2003, shortly after the publication of his last novel, he attended Mile Hi Con, Denver's local convention, where he signed the Book of the Week for me under both the name Hal Clement and Harry Stubbs. At 81, he seemed in the best of health and spirits as he entertained the crowd. He passed away the next week from complications of diabetes. Next week we'll have another of the all-time classics of SF from 1953, this one from an author still going strong at age 89.

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