March 2019 Monthly Book: Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement


Greetings all,

This is to announce our March 2019 monthly book, which will be Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement, 1954, 224pp.
Discussion to be led by @rossum sometime around the end of March or beginning of April.

I haven't read this one, but I know it's considered a classic and has been recently published in the SF Masterworks series, which speaks to its quality. To crib a few quotes from Wikipedia:

The story is set on a highly oblate planet named Mesklin, which has surface gravity that varies between 700 G at the poles and 3 G at the equator. The story is told from the points of view of one of the local intelligent life forms and a human explorer. The locals are centipede-like, in order to withstand the enormous gravity, and terrified of even small heights (because in 700 G even a tiny fall is fatal).

It is most often praised for the thoroughness and care with which Clement designed and described Mesklin — even today, it is considered one of the definitive examples of worldbuilding. Although Clement has stated that his original calculations concerning the polar gravity of Mesklin were inaccurate (he later estimated the polar gravity should have been ~250 g instead of 700), the exploration of what existence might be like in such extreme conditions is detailed, convincing, and persuasive. The novel is frequently invoked in discussions of the sense of wonder, the sensation of dawning comprehension and understanding of a larger context for a given experience, that many readers of science fiction point to as the reason why they pursue the genre.

I know that's one of the reasons I pursue the genre! Looking forward to it!

If you can't find an edition under this title, look for a collection called Heavy Planet which collects this with other stories in the setting, which is probably a better value in any case.


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