Mesklin is a vast, inhospitable, disc-shaped planet, so cold that its oceans are liquid methane and its snows are frozen ammonia. It is a world spinning dizzyingly, a world where gravity can be a crushing 700 times greater than Earth's, a world too hostile for human explorers. But the planet holds secrets of inestimable value, and an unmanned probe that has crashed close to one of its poles must be recovered. Only the Mesklinites, the small creatures so bizarrely adapted to their harsh environment can help. And so Barlennan, the resourceful and courageous captain of the Mesklinite ship Bree, sets out on an heroic and appalling journey into the terrible unknown...
Hal Clement (1922–2003) was the pseudonym of the exemplar of hard science fiction, Harry C. Stubbs. He created the pseudonym while working for his Master's degree in Astronomy at Harvard, fearing his professor would not want him to be "wasting" his time. He did not know that this same professor submitted science fiction to Hugo Gernsback's magazines. Hal's first published story was "Proof" which appeared in the June 1942 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. Then, like many other sf writers, the War intervened.
Following bomber combat duty in Europe with the Army Air Corps in World War II, Harry returned home, learned to drive a car, became a high-school chemistry teacher, and wrote Hugo-winning science fiction.
Hal was a fixture at many SF conventions, where he always had time to talk to his fellow fans.