Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is one of those novels that I must firmly place in the "Interesting idea" category without having it really grace the realm of "great story".
Indeed, I loved the way that Hal Clement literally built a world from scratch, not merely creating 15 inch long aliens, but making a damn interesting planet that had different pulls of gravity depending on how close you were to the poles versus the equator, because the whole planet was flattened, was roughly 5k times the mass of earth, and the surface pull of gravity meant that we measly humans needed very heavy augmentation just to visit or we'd be crushed.
Even the author sent out a call in the afterword, which to my opinion was even better than the main tale, to anyone out there to use his creation as they see fit and improve the math or write in the setting, and I appreciate that, because I keep wondering how much better it might have been if we had spent all our time in the heads of the humans rather than the aliens.
Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the attempt, but I did get rather bored with all the haggling and trading and industrial espionage that revolved around techs that could handle so much gravity or the gradual and immense differences between the equator and the pole during the travels. Like I said, it was very cool in concept.
That being said, I kinda wish that all the awesome nuts and bolts of the world had been introduced or interspersed throughout the novel, from the human's point of view, so as to awe me in the context other than the density of the lifeforms or the fear of flying (or falling) and what might result with a splat of 300 gravities. :)
It was fun for what it was, and it does rather show that it was written back in '53, but the focus on making sure there was good science (as far as Hal, himself, could manage it,) was both admirable and ambitious, so that's where I'm placing all my stars. :)
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