Mission of Gravity (Mesklin, #1)
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Mission of Gravity (Mesklin #1)

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  3,908 ratings  ·  86 reviews
Cover Artist: Ed Emshwiller
Mission of Gravity is an sf novel by Hal Clement. The title is a play on words, one meaning "the force which pulls" & the other being "extremely serious or important". It was serialized in Astounding Science Fiction, 4–7/53. Its 1st cloth publication was in '54. It was 1st published in paper in '58. Along with the novel itself, many editions...more
Paperback, 174 pages
Published (first published 1953)
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2.5 stars. Interesting concept of a world where gravity is 700 times that of Earth at the poles and only 3 times Earth at the equator. Ultimately, the story was not interesting enough to keep me engaged, but the scientific explanations were interesting.

Nominee: Hugo (Retro) Award for Best Science Fiction Novel
Mission of Gravity is, I believe, the granddaddy of hard science fiction. It is often mentioned when discussions of hard sf come up. For some reason the label hard sf usually lead me to expect serious moody novels. For no good reason I tend to equate serious science with serious stories, imagine my surprise when Mission of Gravity turns out to be something of a romp, a good one too. Another point worth mentioning is that while the book was first published in 1953 it still holds up well today bec...more
- Hello, this is Mesklin Advance calling Earth, do you read me?

- Coming in loud and clear, MA! So what's up?

- Well, we've got a little problem here now we've reached the transition point to the polar zone. Our boats -

- Ah, let me see, is their cross-section an arc of a circle subtending an angle of 3π/2?

- That's right, how did you guess?

- And you're floating on a sea of an ideal fluid with density ρ?

- Correct!

- And the velocity of the boat is v, where v is given by...

- Oh, wait, I just found it...more
This is another one of those SF books that is written by a scientist, for scientists. Like Fred Hoyle's The Black Cloud, it is the scientists and engineers who are the calling the shots and saving the day. Unlike "The Black Cloud" however, there is very little to interest the reader who isn't a scientist, doesn't enjoy following through scientific reasoning and working through technical problems.

As the Mesklinites have to traverse their way halfway across their planet, from the equatorial region...more
Often cited as one of the bedrock works of "hard" science fiction, this extremely well-constructed little novel paints wonders of chemistry, biology, and physics, but crowns its triumph with a touching and developed portrait of an alien species with their own peculiar neuroses and ambitions.

The gravity of the planet Mesklin is far beyond that of Earth. At Mesklin's equator, humans in power-assisted suits can temporarily tolerate the 3 Gs found there, but at the planet's poles centrifugal force...more
A voyage of discovery on the oceans of the planet Mesklin, a giant iron-cored planet that rotates so rapidly that its shape is a flattened ogive. Mesklin's gravity at the equator is 3 Earth gravities, while at the poles it exceeds 50 G's. The "mission of gravity" is for a Mesklinite crew to retrieve a data package from a grounded earth probe near the pole and return it to the equator for pickup. The Mesklinites look like yard-long centipedes with exoskeletons made of nickle-steel. They also have...more
This is a great example of Hard SF. It asks the question what would it be like on a planet shaped like an extreme oblate spheroid with gravity ranging from 700 g's to 3 g's depending on latitude. What would life be like on such a world; how would they view their world; and how would they perceive humans that visited their world.

The main character, a native Meskinlite, Barelennan, is well developed and the story told primarily from his point of view. My main complaint, which almost resulted in 3...more
What a bizarre book! I wish I had the grace to finish it, but got half way and gave up, such was the lack of narrative drive. Famously, this has been called the original "hard sci-fi" tome, meaning that there was no "magic" in it, but I could have told you that by chapter 2, so leaden was the prose style. The guy who wrote it was a high-school science teacher, and it does read like a particularly obtuse and digressive science class. We are on a physically unusual planet, way in the future. It ha...more
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Mutlu Cankay
Mesklin, Dünya'nın bir kaç katından daha büyük ve Jüpiter'dan daha fazla kütleye sahip bir gezegendir. Bu gezegene gönderilen insansız araştırma gemisi kutup bölgesine yakın bir yere düşmüş ve kaydettiği bilgileri gezegenin ayında konuşlanmış olan Dünya'lı bilim insanlarına iletememektedir. Tek çözüm Mesklin'e inip Kütle çekiminin Dünya'nın 660 katı olan kutup dairesinden geminin kara kutusu ve kayıtlarını almaktır. Ancak şu anki teknolojiyle bile bir insanın koruyucu giysileriyle bu basınca day...more
In this book the author took the premise that there is a planet somewhere that is large and dense so that it has a huge amount of gravity compared to Earth, spins really quickly to partially offset that gravity with centrifugal force and therefore has a very flattened shape, and has a very elliptical orbit in which it is much closer to the sun at one end of the orbit than the other. He then imagined in great detail and with as great scientific precision as he could what conditions would be like...more
This is a really fun book. It's essentially an exploration and adventure story, but with a crucial difference: the protagonist, Barlennan, is a fifteen-inch long caterpillar-like creature who lives on a planet called Mesklin. The core of the book is in the way that this planet's shape affects its inhabitants, their perceptions of reality, and their science. Their world is not round, but rather a flattened elliptical world, a world in which the gravitational force varies from the pole to the equa...more
I wanted to like this book more. It has a really cool premise; a planet with unusual gravity because of its high rotation.

But the characters were distractingly confusing and bad. I enjoyed the scientific reveals, but was impatient for them to come. The story ends abruptly in the middle of a ho-hum mission.

The aliens, themselves, were pretty interesting in their biology and psychology. Again, personality was lacking. I think what bothered me the most was that they spoke English. I don't have a pr...more
Rarely does a hard sci-fi novel feel too hard. But in this case, the huge efforts at world building felt let down by a very linear story that really didn't go anywhere. The alien Meskenites, despite their significant physiological differences, never felt very alien, nor did they feel in any real difficulty throughout the whole journey. It may suit other fans of hard sci-fi, but I don't see myself revisiting this particular novel.
The story-line is about first contact with aliens. Barlenan with his ship Bree finds a new race living in a planet Mesklin. Here starts the adventure of Barlenan and his crew with Mesklinities. Barlenan is mainly a merchant and wants to know the knowledge of Mesklinities. At first they are reluctant to share it with him. However, at long last they all came to reasonable agreement.

A wonderful novel. You’ll find a good deal of pure scientific knowledge mostly of chemistry. About hydrogen atmospher...more
I thought Clement did an excellent job of putting us into the world of heavy gravity and its effects. And a good adventure too.
I rarely delve into older science fiction, and I'm often rather unimpressed when I do - while there are often some interesting ideas in there, the characters and plots tend towards the flakey and unbelievable (well, more so than modern scifi). Mission of Gravity, written by Hal Clements in 1954, was a refreshing change. It deals with some interesting ideas (mostly, aliens that are basically intelligent centipedes, and a planet with huge gravity that is rotating very quickly which has lots of int...more
Jeffrey David
Jan 26, 2008 Jeffrey David rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: intelligent scorpions who live on a Jovian-class planet
World building at its best.
Another recommendation from the "Science Fiction Readers' Guide," this one being what is described as the ultimate in "hard SF" (i.e., based on scientific knowledge as was known at the time (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 atmosph...more
Eric Herboso
Aliens and humans collaborate in a grave mission to save a downed scientific instrument in this pinnacle novel of hard science fiction.

Mission of Gravity occupies a place of honor among my book collection as my favorite fiction novel of all time. This is definitely Hal Clement's best work, and is certainly the best pro-science hard scifi novel I've ever read. While I know not everyone likes science fiction, and, of those who do, most cannot stand hard science fiction, for those people who truly...more
Charles Dee Mitchell
The science in "hard science fiction" doesn't have to be all that hard to go over my head. If publishers and critical readers say an author has done his homework and knows what he's talking about, I find myself taking a lot of things on faith. On the other hand, I am just as happy reading Philip K. Dick who ignores the niceties of scientific plausibility and has a fully recovered earth with citizens zipping around in flying cars and planning to colonize the galaxy just a few years after an atomi...more
Más que una novela de ciencia ficción, Misión de gravedad se asemeja más a una novela de aventuras al más puro estilo Julio Verne. Cojamos una novela de este estilo y sustituyamos un peligroso viaje al interior africano por un viaje por mar y tierra en un planeta extraterrestre. Sustituyamos a los indigenas africanos por tribus de curiosos seres medio hormigas, medio gusanos. Y sustituyamos la búsqueda de tesoros por la búsqueda de una sonda espacial con valiosos datos.

La trama se centra en lo...more
Schwere Literatur
Als Jugendlicher habe ich sehr, sehr viel SciFi gelesen. In der Rollenspieler-Zeitschrift "Wunderwelten" war einmal in den frühern 90ern eine Liste der "100 besten SciFi-Romane", zusammengestellt von Koryphäen wie Hans Joachim Alpers und, wenn ich mich recht entsinne, Werner Fuchs. Die Liste habe ich natürlich praktisch ganz abgearbeitet. "Unternehmen Schwerkraft" war auf der Liste, im Bereich "Hard-SF", also streng wissenschaftlich orientierter SF, ohne viel Romantik oder Unerk...more
The novel details the adventurous voyage on the planet Mesklin of the intelligent, caterpillar-like creature Barlennan, his merchant vessel, the Bree, and her crew of loyal Mesklinites to recover an invaluable probe sent by humans. The journey is assisted by human ambassador Charles Lackland, who provides a human insight into foreign conditions. The crew meet challenge after challenge on their travels around the planet and through a very diverse range of environments and conditions, due to the n...more
Sep 12, 2010 Rob rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: "Hard" science fiction fans
Shelves: science-fiction, 2010
Imagine a huge, dense planet, several times as massive as Jupiter, its core compressed to degenerate matter. Now spin it so fast that a point on the equatorial surface is almost in orbit. The apparent surface gravity at the equator and poles is three gees and seven hundred gees, respectively. Give it a highly eccentric orbit around its star, and chill it to about the boiling point of methane so that its hydrogen atmosphere isn’t quickly slung out into space. That’s the planet Mesklin, setting of...more
Oct 03, 2007 James rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Hard SF fans
Shelves: science-fiction
This is a unique novel that takes the idea of science fiction so literally that it actually uses scientific formulas to rationalize its setting. The planet Mesklin is a massive disc shaped celestial body that is kept flat by the absurd amount of gravitational force that is concentrated on it. On a date collecting mission in the maybe not so distant future, a human satelitte falls to Mesklins shores (the oceans are liquid methane) and the human in charge of retrieving this data is forced to enlis...more
Jeff Miller
I first read this some 30+ years ago and I was delighted to find that it holds up perfectly. This is one of those books often referenced for intricate world building in the realm of hard SF. Though some hard SF can be long on science and short on story - not here though.

An highly oblate and very large planet named Mesklin has a extremely high surface gravity that varies depending on what part of the planet you are on. For the native life a fall of six inches means death and the high G means the...more
I must say I am a fan of hard science fiction. Hal Clement does an excellent job of creating a world, Mesklin, that is dramatically different from earth, that is populated with intelligent creatures. His details of the physics and chemistry of Mesklin and it's inhabitants is incredible. The one weakness that I found in the book was as intelligent as the natives were, there science hadn't advanced until earthlings gave them a few hints and then started educating them.
All in all it is a fun book...more
Urpo Lankinen
Planet Mesklin is a frightening place: the gravity reaches almost 700 g in the polar regions. When a really important probe fails in those conditions, the humans immediately notice that they're a little bit screwed and can't really go retrieve the thing on their own. So they need some help from the local centipede-like aliens. Unfortunately for the scientists, their local friend is a trader. A hard bargainer, one might say.

Mission of Gravity is not exactly a hugely characters driven novel, and c...more
Science Fiction Discussion Group’s August title. How to retrieve scientific equipment and data from a strange planet with fluctuating gravity is the problem to be solved in this book. Earthlings can barely live in the lightest gravitation field on the planet but they manage to make contact with an intelligent species that agree to help retrieve the equipment. The bargains gets changed and the aliens prove to be an asset beyond believe. Interesting book, but the science hurt my head. The group ha...more
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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 Wikipedia.
More about Hal Clement...
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