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Hal Clement

Harry Clement Stubbs (born May 30, 1922), better known by the pen name Hal Clement, is an American science fiction writer.

He was born in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Clement is widely considered to be a leader of the subgenre hard science fiction.

He first appeared in print with the story "Proof" in the June 1942 issue of Astounding Science Fiction.

His educational background includes a B.S. in astronomy from Harvard in 1943, M. Ed. (Boston University 1946), and M.S. in chemistry (Simmons College[?] 1963). During the World War II he was a pilot and copilot of the B-24 Liberator and flew 35 combat missions over Europe with 8th Air Force. He served in the Army Air Corps[?] Reserve, and retired with the rank of colonel. He taught chemistry for many years at Milton Academy[?] in Milton, Massachusetts[?].

Clement received the 1998 recognition as a Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). In 1996 he retroactively received a 1946 Hugo Award for his short story "Uncommon Sense".

His best known novel, Mission of Gravity is the account of an overland expedition across the superjovian planet Mesklin to recover a crashed scientific probe. The natives of Mesklin are centipede-like intelligent beings about a meter in length. Various episodes hinge on the fact that Mesklin's fast rotational speed causes it to be considerably deformed from the spherical, and its effective surface gravity to vary from approximately 3 G at the equator to approximately 700 G at the poles.

Clement's article "Whirligig World" describes his approach to writing a science fiction story:

"Writing a science fiction story is fun, not work. ... the fun... lies in treating the whole thing as a game. ... the rules must be quite simple. They are; for the reader of a science-fiction story, they consist of finding as many as possible of the author's statements or implications which conflict with the facts as science currently understands them. For the author, the rule is to make as few such slips as he possibly can. ... Certain exceptions are made [e.g., to allow travel faster than the speed of light, but] fair play demands that all such matters be mentioned as early as possible in the story..."

He also paints astronomically-oriented artworks under the name George Richard.


  • Needle and its sequel Through the Eye of a Needle
  • Mission of Gravity
  • Iceworld
  • Close to Critical
  • Cycle of Fire
  • Star Light (features characters previously seen in Mission of Gravity)
  • Still River
  • Fossil
  • Half Life
  • The Nitrogen Fix

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