Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cycle of Fire

By Hal Clement

Dar was on a delivery mission when he ran into trouble and was forced to make a crash landing. He managed to land safely but his aircraft was defunct. He removed his cargo, a bag of books, and proceeded to continue his mission on foot.
Dar lived on a large planet with two suns. The two suns created a cycle of conditions in which the planet gradually became too hot. So Dar's people packed all their knowledge away in the coldest spot on their planet, under the glaciers, safe for when the cycle reversed and the planet began to cool off and became more moderate again. This cycle meant that almost everyone faced certain death, including Dar, except for a few individuals, the Teachers, who resided with the books of knowledge under the glaciers.
Dar was making his way across a brutal, uninhabited and increasing hot landscape when he came across something he had never seen before: a human being. Nils Kruger was just a cadet when he fell into the mudpot and sank from sight. His fellow explorers assumed he was dead so they returned to their spacecraft and left without him. But Nils wasn't dead, he managed to drag himself out of the mudpot only to find he had been abandoned, left alone to survived on a hostile world. Through trial and error he managed to find plants that were edible and get by. But he was all alone when his and Dar's paths crossed. Finding each other to be non-hostile and desirous of heading to the same place, Dar to place his precious books into safe storage and Nils to find a place where the temperatures were more moderate and bearable for a human, they traveled together, headed to the land of glaciers.

This was an OK story. It started out pretty good, with the two traveling together and getting to know and understand each other. The author doesn't go into much detail about the plants and animals they encountered, which was disappointing. Also I didn't find the circumstances of Nils being stranded very believable. Then in the last half of the book, the adventure part ends and the rest of the story was just not that interesting. And there was a lot of scientific stuff in the last half of the book about how the planet ended up with two suns that I didn't understand, it was just too technical. I just skimmed those parts.

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