Review: Iceworld

I first read Hal Clement maybe eight or nine years ago. I was doing my IT degree at the time and was reading a lot. I was a member at the Lower Hutt Public Library and got most of my reading material from there. Actually, I have many good reading memories from that period. I read Mervyn Peake‘s Gormenghast trilogy for the first time, Gene Wolfe‘s Book of the Long Sun, an unusual book called All of an Instant by a Richard Garfinkle, a couple of books by Greg Egan (if you think Clement is hard SF, you should try that guy) and one of the books I read during this period was Clement’s Half Life.  I enjoyed the book immensely but unfortunately it was the only book of his in the library.  He kind of went on the back-burner for a while, but when I came to Korea, I picked up Heavy Planet and Noise.  Incidentally, I have a 1st BCE edition of Mission of Gravity.

Iceworld was a book of his that I’d been looking forward to reading for a while.  I discovered an excellent synopsis/review of the book in another blog, so I’ll link to that in a second.  I just want to give my two cents worth first.  Iceworld is noticibly more ‘immature’ compared to ‘Gravity’.  Almost like a contemporary Heinlein juvenile with the main human protaganists being a family and often told from the children’s perspective.  Wait, ‘immature’ might be a poor choice of word, I mean it feels like it is written with the younger reader in mind notwithstanding the hard science. Heinlein’s juveniles contain their fair share of hard science of course, but if I was reading this when I was 10 or 12 years old (as I was Heinlein) it would often be tough going and perhaps uninteresting.  Just on the science, there are several instances of technology and science that are obviously very out of touch with reality today.  A couple of examples that spring to mind are the mention of a slide rule and the notion that Mercury was tidally locked to the sun.  These things might bother some, but they don’t bother me at all.  I might talk about outdated science in classic SF in another post sometime.  The review of Iceworld is located here over at Variety SF.  It’s quite comprehensive and well worth reading though if you haven’t read Iceworld, a word of warning – it does contain spoilers.  Enjoy.


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