Thread: Books etc.
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Old 08-21-2006, 10:41 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Warning: This quote contains a spoiler.

If you plan on reading "Mission of Gravity," skip this message. Then again, I'm quite positive that everyone's skipping these posts. Nonetheless, I'm enjoying reflecting on some works I love.

I'm a fan of classic Science Fiction, circa 1930s-1950s. Back then writing was pure and direct. None of the gimmicks nor styles we see today. Titles were also amazing: "The Stars, My Destination" "The Demolished Man" "Lest Darkness Falls"

This quote shows how a Grand Master can sum up the thesis of his work in a simple, elegant paragraph. How a plea can be made, a case, an argument, by weaving elements of a story line and drawing the reader to an ultimate conclusion.

Mission of Gravity, by Hal Clemet is a forgotten classic from that time. Pure SF, the author tells the tale of Humans exploring a Jupiter-like planet, where gravity is measured in the hundred-fold compared to Earths.

There, life is found. Meskinites - caterpillar like beings who possess intelligence and live in a society not unlike that of our Viking forefathers. They sail their ship, the Bree, across thousands of miles, encountering warring tribes and unusual creatures. Gravity rules their world; a place where a pebble dropped an inch lands with the striking force of a bullet.

At the very end of the book, Clement pulls a fast one on us. In one simple, masterful stroke he makes argument that is both compelling and righteous. The Meskinites live in a world dominated by gods and superstitions. Marveling at the achievements of those human beings from an outer world, a great among the Meskinites by the name of Barlennan, ask for minor thing in return for a favor. The Humans offeres an explaination of how something works, but after spending so much time with Humans, Barlennan rejects the initial offer and strikes for a greater prize:

Even I can see it is not just guesswork, or even philosophizing like the learned ones who tell us that Meskin is a bowl... I want to know why the Bree floats, and why the canoe did the same... I want to know why the wind blows down the cleft all the time.. I want to know why we are warmest in winter when we can't see the sun for the longest time. I want to know why a fire glows... I want my children or theirs, if I ever have any to know what makes this radio work, and your tank and someday your rocket. I want to know much - more than I can learn, no doubt, but if I can start my people learning for themselves, the way you must have... [he would be willing to end the life of a nomad and pursue a greater goal]
What he was asking for was the knowledge of the scientific method.

"That's me -- call me crazy, call me a pervert, but this is something I enjoy."
- Boogie Nights

Last edited by william; 08-21-2006 at 10:57 PM.
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