I just heard that Harry Stubbs – better known to the world as Hal Clement – died today.
Hal was one of the greats of science fiction. He pretty much invented hard SF, insisting that all his science was as accurate as possible. Other writers of the time were more than willing to jettison the science for a good tale, but Hal never did, rewriting things if he found out he had made an error in his numbers. Hal never wrote anything unless he could justify every inch of the science involved.
His novel Mission of Gravity is one of the classics of the genre. It postulates a world what has different gravities at different latitudes, and the search for a missing space probe. His Captain Barlennan is a fascinating portrayal of an explorer who is hungry for knowledge. There’s a review at Scifi.com. The sad thing is that the book is out of print; it is a foundation of SF (in a non-Asimov sense), and deserves to be read by anyone interested in the field.
I also liked his Nitrogen Fix There’s a bibliography at this site
Hal was a grandmaster of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. He also was an accomplished painter of astronomic scenes, under the name “George Richards.”
I first met Hal in 1979, when I turned around at my first SF convention and saw him smiling at me. Hal Clement!, I thought, and was too awed to speak. In 1982, I met him at another convention, and it was easy to fall into a conversation with him (Hal was one of the most approachable people in SF). He saw our daughter grow up, meeting her first when she was three months old.
Over Columbus Day weekend, I saw him for what is now the last time, running the slide projector as he discussed the science behind the story he was working on. I’m shocked and saddened to hear he’s no longer with us.