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Heavy Planet: The Classic Mesklin Stories Paperback – November 9, 2002


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"For well over half a century, Hal Clement has been a towering, even decisive figure in our special literature. He deserves to be properly appreciated. . . . There's nobody like him. He's been a tremendous force in science fiction, receiving honors for it but not nearly enough."--Poul Anderson

"Hal Clement--who was anointed the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America's 1998 Grand Master--has been writing for the last half century. In that time he has defined the "hard SF" subgenre and established it as his own."--Analog

About the Author

Hal Clement lives in Milton, Massachusetts.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Orb Books; First Edition edition (November 9, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076530368X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765303684
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #161,231 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Good read and interesting story.
tomkus
The collection consists of two big novels, a short story and an essay where he takes us through the process of designing such a bizarre planet.
Michael Battaglia
I recommend it to those of my family and friends that like science fiction .
L. Corcoran

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Dick Stanley on March 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
Clement's classic hard SF novellas here about alien contact, Mission of Gravity and Star Light, with a couple of connected short stories thrown in, make for wonderful reading, and some free education in elementary physics and chemistry. MG hardly suffers from being so old that the humans employ slide rules and photographic film, and the author wisely continues it in the more recent SL. It's also almost unnoticeable that there is, as other reviewers of his other books have pointed out, no sex and no violence---not even a sharp argument between the humans and the aliens.

Instead, the stories move along on resolving the inevitable hazards as the hydrogen-breathing Mesklinites (variously described as grotesque worms, caterpillars or centipedes about three feet long) explore their own high-gravity planet and, later, a similar one three parsecs away, as contract employees (and, simultaneously, students and respected friends) of the humans.

What makes it work is the interplay between the species and the way Clements' aliens mimic human emotions and behavior, including occasional paranoia and deception, despite their significant physiological differences. I was sad to finish. It's a pity the author is no longer alive to continue this rich story of human scientists, linguists and administrators hesitantly helping the Mesklinites gradually move from being sailors on methane seas in ammonia storms to pilots of interstellar spacecraft.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Michael Battaglia on September 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
Take THAT, Ringworld. Long before Mr Niven was inserting tons of science into science-fiction, Hal Clement was coming along and giving us the rather interesting world of Mesklin, a world with such a high spin that the planet essentially becomes flattened out and its gravity in some places is high enough to make a person pancake flat if they happened to land without protection. And yet life does exist here. And it sails. And it turns out to be really curious.

Hard science is interesting because it proves to us in an entertaining fashion that the universe on its own is a fairly fascinating and exciting place and you don't have to invent hyperspace and teleportation beams to really have fun with the story, you can take the natural quirks of science to create fascinating scenarios and have it be justified as more than just a flight of the imagination. At its best, it stretches the mind and instills wonder at how vast and variable the universe we live in really is. At its worst, it reads like a science lecture you didn't intend to sign up for. Generally that has nothing to do with the degree of the author, there are perfectly good authors who sport doctorates in physics. Hal Clement was one of them.

The collection consists of two big novels, a short story and an essay where he takes us through the process of designing such a bizarre planet. "Mission of Gravity" is the first and the acknowledged classic, where Mesklin trader Barlennan is sailing and exploring areas he has never been able to venture into before due to the help of his new human friends.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Leslie D. Matteson on March 22, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read the first part this book in the 50's and loved it. I got a good many of my friends and family to read it. They liked it also.

These little critters that look like large centipedes are some of the most lovable in all of si fi (and I've been reading si fi for about 65 years). The planet is out of this world and the science involved is great.

This over-large planet that spins so fast that it is shaped like a frisbee and the gravity is so weird that at the rim (equator) the gravity is about 3Gs and at the poles about 600Gs. The technology was good for the 50's but don't let that get you down. Read it for fun. Read it to see what si fi was like during it's golden age.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Captain Zones on April 8, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition
Hal Clement was a guy who understood that you could tell an engaging story, where you don't have to ignore the actual science in order to make it interesting. In fact, by paying attention to the science, he made the stories come to life. He paid attention to every detail of the worlds he created, and it made them seem all the more real. The world of Mesklin, though, was surely his crowning glory. It is incredibly massive, but it also has a high spin, so the force of gravity at the poles is far higher than at the equator. As a result, the mesklinites all know their world to be shaped like a bowl. It's details like this that make a book come alive.
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By Cheryl Rauch on May 6, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent book in great condition for a great value. Enjoyed it a great deal. Passing it onto the teenagers next.
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Format: Paperback
I obtained and read the first novel in this collection, “Mission of Gravity,” previously. As is true of many of the books I come across, it appeared that that book became part of a larger work which included two short stories, a novella, and another novel, “Star Bright,” all compiled into “Heavy Planet.” This is “Hard S-F,” closely based on scientific principles (at least from 1953). This work describes the inhabitants of a planet, Mesklin, loosely based on a planetary system "close" to ours, with a double sun and an ellipsoid planetary shape with wild fluctuations in gravity, from 3g at the equator to over 600g at the poles. The atmosphere and "water" (mostly methane) and atmospheric extremes caused by the tremendous gravitational differences in latitudes are also described. The inhabitants sort of resemble a cross between a centipede and a lobster with pincers on both ends, and are some 15 inches long. The main character is a Mesklinite captain named Barlenon, whose ship, the Bree, is basically a merchantman/adventurer and occasional pirate (ARRR!!). The crew seems a bit too cooperative and cohesive for any such motley assemblage, but that isn't the main point here. There are a few humans, and their ability to deal with the gravitational vicissitudes of Mesklin is also described. Of course, since the Mesklinites are more advanced linguistically, it is they who learn our language for mutual communication rather than the other way around. The plot is essentially a joint mission to the South Pole of Mesklin, with the Mesklnites and the humans working together to rescue vital data on this planet from a rocket that crashed there some time ago.Read more ›
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