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Iceworld

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  441 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Mottled with sinister colors, the planet gleamed in the spacecraft's viewport. Sallman Ken could not believe that such a bleak and icy globe could ever have produced intelligent life. Yet the expedition had contacted natives of some sort when it sent in unmanned landers.

More important, smugglers from his own planet had begun trading with the natives of that Iceworld for a
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Mass Market Paperback, 203 pages
Published October 1977 by Del Rey (first published 1951)
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3.72  · 
Rating details
 ·  441 ratings  ·  29 reviews


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Daniel Bastian
Aug 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Very thankful to have discovered this little gem from 1951. Iceworld turns the search for extraterrestrial life on its head, in that instead of humans doing the searching, it's the ETs searching for us.

It seems natural that once interstellar travel becomes a practical option, intelligent beings will venture out to other worlds in search of resources that have been exhausted or that are unobtainable on their own planet. Or maybe, like us, their curiosity about other life forms will lead them rig
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Lis Carey
May 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful old classic, that still holds up very well more than half a century later.

Salmon Ken is an ordinary high school science teacher, who gets recruited by the narcotics cops to help track down the source of a new drug. It's been around in small quantities for about twenty years, but authorities are worried because it is dispersed in the air (making it possible to expose the unwilling) and a single dose is enough to create a powerful addiction. It is, potentially, the most dangero
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Adam
Jun 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. The author does a great job confronting some of our typical assumptions about the necessary conditions for life by imagining an alien species from a very hot planet (and with a silicon-based organic structure) who've discovered earth and have a hard time imagining how people can live there as cold as it is (and without knowing water, carbon-based organic molecules, etc.). I really enjoyed the discussions of chemistry that occurred in the book, and while I'm no expert, ...more
Joel
Feb 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: scifi-fantasy
A science fiction classic from the early 50s. The premise: the main character is a scientist investigating a planet that may be the source of a very dangerous drug; it has only appeared in very small quantities so far, but law enforcement is very worried about it. The planet seems to have intelligent life, but it's very difficult to investigate that because the planet is so extremely cold; cold enough that sulfur exists in solid state, not gaseous, and water exists as a liquid.

The planet is Eart
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Jared Millet
2014 Reading Project: Finally Getting Around To... (Book 1)

So, my goal for 2014 is to clear off some of the books that have been sitting on my to-read shelf for what feels like forever. (My real world to-read shelf, that is, not my Goodreads list.) With that in mind, I chose to kick things off with the one that's been on the list since about 1979.

When I was a kid at Denham Springs Elementary, the tiny public library across the street had exactly three science fiction paperbacks: Lucky Starr and
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Tim Robinson
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: scifi
This follows the usual structure of Clement novel: alien meets human, they fail to understand each other, learn each other's language, form a relationship based on intelligence and respect. All the characters are too rational to be true; with one exception they are decent and reliable, as well. The aliens have a curiously mixed technology: they travel faster than light yet they have lousy remote sensing. Even in geosynchronous orbit, they cannot identify the most important gasses in a planet's a ...more
Simeonberesford
Dec 28, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: hard, sf, science, fiction
Another nostalgia trip replete with Vaccum tube technology. Hal Clement was the first author to really think about aliens. Before then they were just tentacled things with names like KRrrtG'H from a methane world. Mr Clement would take the time to apply a little thought and some elementary science to work out what a creature from such a place would be like.[return]For this particular story things are reversed The aliens, from a planet that makes Mercury seem cold, are invesigating the Earth and ...more
David
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This is NOT yet another story of an ice age.

Clement is known as an SF writer who appeals more to science people than literary people. This is a story that gives perspective of how different things can seem from different backgronds, and how assumptions based on past experience can mislead us. It's also a different kind of first contact story. Although it's only developed so far, it may be noteworthy that it was written in 1951 and its main characters are non-human aliens (and they're mostly not
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Dan Burcea
Jun 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Hard Sci-fi from the fifties! By an american WWII pilot and science teacher, this is as good as they get when you do it for the fun, the way it's supposed to be done. Back then, that is before Asimov turned sci-fi into cool literature for a few decades, this genre was just like today, a niche contended with itself and not trying to lure general fiction readers in. It also features one of my favorites sci-fi tropes: Humans Seen Through Aliens Eyes.
Bill
Nov 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hard SF Fans
Shelves: science-fiction
What would Earth be like to a life-form which used sulfur vapor instead of oxygen to support their metabolism?

Bone up one your inorganic chemistry! Clement's second novel is a fascinating Science jaunt answering this question.
David Stuckey
Aug 29, 2015 rated it really liked it

Hard SF done right and in a good story. Maybe not as good as "Needle" or "Mission Of Gravity" it still achieves its main goal - to view Earth through the eyes of a sentient that has lived in a very different environment and to understand how 'alien' we are to it.
Jill
Mar 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is the book i always give people who have never read science fiction, it is a very human story. I met Hal Clemet at a con in asheville in the early 80's and he gave a talk on world building that was delightful.
Rock Howard
Apr 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
A breezy story that revolves around aliens so remotely different in biology and preferred clime that it is difficult for them to grok humans and vice versa. Crafted around a couple of solid jokes and interesting scenarios. Enjoyable.
Godfather
Nov 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: science fiction fans
This book describes events occuring between two worlds and/or two universes. It has a very interesting ending.
Norman Howe
May 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Detective Sallman Ken is investigating an interstellar drug ring. He follows a trail to a frozen planet - a world so cold that water exists as a liquid. That planet is Earth!
Will Boncher
Oct 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
Can you imagine a world so cold where even sulfur freezes to a solid? Great hard sci-fi. Little slow in the middle, and the ending came on pretty sudden.
John
Nov 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: scifi
1978 grade A+
2003 grade A
Jannik
Oct 05, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
First of all, some of my criticism might be negated if you read the book in english with the mindset of someone in the 1950s - or a profound knowledge of the technological advances regarding space up to this point.

I don't think this is a good book. I don't really think it's a bad book either, but it's leaning towards that and here is why. (Minor spoilers ahead)

1. The Writing: As I said before, I read a translation, so parts of this point might be mood. There are some internal inconsistencies, e
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Nate
Oct 08, 2018 rated it liked it
hard(ish) sci-fi working within the confines of early 1950s scientific and engineering knowledge, which leads to several unintentionally amusing passages. not exactly overly thrilling in terms of plot, much of the sciency sections read like a chemistry teacher detailing experiment and laboratory setup. the premise is mildly interesting and would probably work better in a short story format, as pacing is weak here and even for a short novel it feels like there is too much padding
Arwen
May 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Good sci-fi story, told from the viewpoint of an alien teacher forced into a scientist role. Earth is a terribly inhospitable world to them, and yet Earth is the only place in the galaxy that can supply a drug-ring with it's addictive cargo. I highly recommend it to those who enjoy sci-fi.
Facedeer
May 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
An interesting "alien's perspective on Earth" book, though unfortunately with rather dated science fiction aspects - I particularly remember rolling my eyes at how the aliens had to determine the composition of Earth's atmosphere by sending a probe down and exposing various samples of elements to the air, then retrieving them and analyzing the residue. Surely an alien species capable of interstellar travel would know how to do spectroscopy.

Still, not a bad read. And quick by today's novel length
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Charles Harrison
Mar 31, 2016 rated it liked it
Hal Clement will always be a favorite because if nothing else he always stretches my physical chemistry. The first couple of chapters of this novel are sheer genius but after you have worked out the twist it slows down considerably into an ok adventure story. Still worth a read but perhaps more of a short story. As always with Clement novels it is an amazing thought experiment especially for anyone with an interest in alien biology but a little slow towards the end.
Gendou
This wasn't my favorite book by Hal Clement. Neither the plot nor characters were very compelling. I found myself yelling at the aliens for being mystified by the presence of water on Earth's surface. I mean, they traveled from another start. They must know how to look for water absorption lines in light reflected off Earth. Then I realized, this story was first published in 1951, when mass spectroscopy was in its infancy... lol
Dmadden
Mar 03, 2010 rated it liked it
I believe I read the Clement was a high school science teacher. Hence it should come as no surprise when aliens come to the solar system with an advanced interstellar drive, but could use some lessons on basic chemistry and how to get along with 1950's Leave it to Beaver family. This is not criticism, I actually like the guy.
Darcy
Dec 26, 2011 rated it liked it
After reading this novel from the viewpoint of what to humans would be the "alien", I realized that growing up reading science fiction is probably part of what made me tolerant of all types of people and segments of society.
Jan
Apr 30, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Just couldn't do it. Got over an hour in and was very bored. Next!
Paul
Aug 21, 2015 rated it liked it
A remarkable vision but not an enjoyable book. Keywords: tofacco (yes, that's correct), tentacles, torpedoes.
Kaleen Haines
This looks interesting. I think I will give it a go!
Begierig
rated it it was ok
Sep 06, 2017
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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.
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