April 20th, 2016

The Librarian

Have deviated ...

... from my John Wyndham re-readathon (though I did finish all my print copies and one ebook, with a couple more ebooks still in reserve) to pick back up on my old plan to try to read every book which had a representative illustrated in Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials. So I'm now just over 100 pages into Heavy Planet which is all Hal Clement's Mesklin tales, two novels and two short stories, together in one volume (The novel "Mission of Gravity" is the official Barlowe connection).

I read SO much science fiction SO voraciously (basically everything in sight, good, bad or mediocre) in my high school and college years that I wasn't sure if I'd ever read Clement before. I suspect not ... that sense of humour would have stuck in my brain. The Mesklin (original Barlowe image here, not recommended for those who dislike creepy-crawlies) are a marvelous creation and have made me realize (not for the first time) that the majority of science fiction movies and television really shortchange us on varying sizes of other species ... most of their intelligent nonhuman lifeforms are withing human size variation because slapping a forehead and some makeup on a live actor is the cheapest way to go (kudos to "Farscape on this one for using muppetry to give us large-scale Pilot and small-scale Rygel). A movie adaptation featuring Clement's 15-inch long Mesklin is something I'd really love to see (insert here usual proviso of provided it was done well, bore some resemblance to the original stories, etc., etc.)

Wonder if Peter Jackson is looking for a new project ...

Here's a sentence that made me laugh out loud; the Mesklin sailing ship captain Barlennan, who is the main POV in "Mission of Gravity" and the first of his species to make contact with humans, comes to a new conclusion about the type of people who opt for his professsion of wandering seafaring trader: "The captain, thinking over this event afterward, realized that by his own lifelong standards he had a crew composed entirely of lunatics, with himself well to the front in degree of aberration; but he was fairly sure that this particular form of insanity was going to be useful."