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❴Reading❵ ➶ The Best of Hal Clement Author Hal Clement – Ultimatetrout.info

The Best of Hal Clement

The Best of Hal ClementJust what the title saysa collection of Hal Clements' best short stories and novelletes.

Hal Clement was a master at exploring extreme physical conditions through the medium of science fiction, but with a hard science rational to support his speculationsenjoy! I came into this expecting that Clement would try to ground his stories in what was possible and was not disappointed. This makes his best stories that much better. However, many of the older stories highlight the problem with hard science fiction. Unexpected advances in technology make these stories more outdated than the socalled “magical” science that is more common. Most of the time this is trivial: it was funny reading about characters in a space station having to deal with thousands of tubes in their computers (Clement himself notes, in the afterword, that he was wrong in assuming analog would beat digital in computer technology.)

But in Mistaken for Granted, the whole story hinges on two problems that a lessgrounded author would have assumed would be solved: that our tendency to measure time in 12hour increments creates dangerous ambiguities, that lack of positional and directional awareness is also very dangerous and costly, and that the protective suits necessary to move about on the moon will also hide personal information devices such as watches.

On the moon in that story, there are no GPS satellites circling the moon, no communications satellites circling the moon, no digital watches, and no headsup displays. And the lack of each of those are critical to the course of the story. But the problem of communication on a dangerous place like the moon is so critical that you pretty much have to assume it will be solved, even if you don’t know how it will be solved. And while the problem of locating people and equipment precisely is perhaps less obviously critical, the lack of compasses was not. So even though the author didn’t know how it would be solved, it would have been safer to guess that it would be and handwave away the mechanics.

The same with the inability to read a wristwatch in a spacesuit. Some form of headsup display or simply building a timepiece into the suit should have been assumed.

Obviously, this would have made the story more difficult to write, and in his defense, according to the (very interesting) afterword he thought up this story around a Boy Scout campfire.

His best stories are the ones where he goes furthest afield: Stuck With It, for example, about an intelligent race that lives mostly underwater, and so has developed different building styles and different technologies to deal with their environment. A Question of Guilt was so far afield it was barely science fiction/fantasy, and is one of the best stories in the collection. Contents:
Impediment (1942)
Technical Error (1944)
Uncommon Sense (1946)
Assumption Unjustified (1946)
Answer (1947)
Dust Rag (1956)
Bulge (1968)
Mistaken For Granted (1974)
A Question Of Guilt (1976)
Stuck With It (1976) There are bits in a few of the stories that feel a little dated but overall even the older stores seem very modern. Especially good if you like nontraditional protagonists in stories.

It is also refreshing to read a story where the central conflict is not entirely because of the stupidity of the characters or unmotivated maliciousness of a bad guy. *Review for the short story 'Uncommon Sense'*

This one is a work of an engineer and feels like a puzzle with only one viable solution.

The Good
* Both twist with extraterrestrial life anatomy are fine. (view spoiler)

Harry Clement Stubbs better known by the pen name Hal Clement , was an American science fiction writer and a leader of the hard science fiction subgenre Further details at

❴Reading❵ ➶ The Best of Hal Clement Author Hal Clement – Ultimatetrout.info
    (view spoiler)

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