Although known as one of the most scrupulously accurate of the "hard science" writers, someone careful to always get the scientific details right, Hal Clement also has a rich and lively imagination, especially when it comes to alien lifeforms, and he has created some of the most memorable alien characters in science fiction. Clement's outdone even himself in the suspenseful novella,
Exchange Rate, in which harried human explorers (under pressure in more ways than one!) must try to figure out the lifeways and motivations of some extremely strange and enigmatic alien creatures on one of the strangest planets ever portrayed in science fiction - and do it all before the clock runs out.
Exchange Rate was chosen for inclusion in the
Seventeenth Annual Collection of The Year's Best Science Fiction.
Hal Clement is the writing name of longtime science teacher Harry Clement Stubbs - made his first sale in 1942 to
Astounding, and became one of the mainstays of that magazine throughout the 50's and 60's, with much of his best short work appearing there. Clement's most famous novel is
Mission of Gravity, which in retrospect still holds up as one of the best SF books of the 50's. His other books include the novels
Close to Critical,
Ocean on Top, and
The Nitrogen Fix. In 1999, Clement was given the prestigious Grandmaster Award by the Science Fiction Writers of America.
©1999 by DNA Publications, Inc. First published in Absolute Magnitude, Winter 1999.
(P)2000 by Random House, Inc.