Mission of Gravity

Hal Clement
Mission of Gravity Cover

Mission of Gravity


Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement

Originally published in 1954 - I read the version in the Ebook Heavy Planet, which collects all of the stories for the planet Mesklin.

This novel is basically a 101 course in worldbuilding. Clement based it off of a planet thought to exist, then developed the background for the shape and spin of the planet. From there, he decided what the atmosphere would be and what sort of creatures could live there.

The story is a first contact tale, although Clement brings us in after the initial contact has been made. In this novel, humankind are in a coalition with other aliens and have launched a scientific probe to study the gravity on Mesklin. The probe has crashed on the pole where the gravity is the most extreme, and the humans need the help of the natives to retrieve the data. Luckily, they make first contact with Barlennan and his crew of sailors. Barlennan runs a ship of traders who are constantly looking for a profit,and he agrees to take the mission with the assistance of the humans who are watching through radio contact from a nearby moon.

As mentioned, the strength of this novel is the world building. All of the scenarios in the book tie to the world of the heavy planet. Some of the action is a little cut and dried; Clement could definitely benefit from developing a little suspense in his writing. I felt one of the weaknesses was the characterization of the aliens. Barlennan and crew have very human personalities, although I found that I liked Barlennan and his first mate Don.

I would highly recommend this book. There is a reason it made six different lists.