30. Iceworld


Hal Clement was the pen name for Harry Clement Stubbs (1922-2003). A Harvard graduate with a degree in Astronomy, he was a natural fit for John Campbell at Astounding, who published two Clement stories before he received his degree in 1943. Clement was perhaps the quintessential hard science fiction writer of his era, whose stories depended upon their center of meticulously detailed scientific extrapolation (worked out on a slide rule) rather than characterization or style. His next ten sales naturally also went to Astounding, including the two-part serial that became his first novel, Needle, and the three-part serial that became Iceworld.

The low level of production reflected the time he spent flying combat missions during the war and the master’s degree in education he picked up when he returned. His production stayed low for many years, regardless, for Harry Stubbs considered himself a schoolteacher at the high school level who wrote (and painted as George Richards) on the side. Many of his books consequently had youthful protagonists. A sequel to Needle, Through the Eye of a Needle, saw publication in 1978, with the protagonist aged only to a college graduate.

I suspect many fans never knew that Clement was a pseudonym and he appears to have used his real name for fiction only for one obscure story late in his career. However, he used it when signing books, as “Hal Clement” (Harry C. Stubbs).

Gnome Notes

The book’s title is spelled as two words – Ice World – on the back panel of the dust jacket, but not anywhere else in or on the book. The mistitling would continue on Against the Fall of Night, Children of the Atom, and Second Foundation, as each used the identical back panel.

cover art by H. R. van Dongen


Villiers Gerson, New York Times Book Review, June 14, 1953
The characterizations are poor, those of the Earthmen practically nil, and the tale becomes so entangled with spaceship and electronic technicalities as to appeal only to the engineer.

Groff Conklin, Galaxy Science Fiction, October 1953
It is this magnificent ability to visualize that raises this tale above the average in science fiction.

Contents and Original Publication

• Chapters 1-20 (Astounding Science Fiction, October, November, and December 1951).

Bibliographic Information

Iceworld, by Hal Clement, 1953, copyright registration 15Apr53, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number not given [retroactively 53-9547], title #30, back panel #23, 216 pages, $2.50. 4000 copies printed. Hardback, blue-green boards, spine lettered in maroon. Jacket design by Ric Binkley. “First Edition” on copyright page. Printed by H. Wolff. Manufactured in the U.S.A. Jacket adds “a new science fiction novel.” Back panel: 25 titles. Gnome Press address given as 80 East 11th Street, New York 3.


None known.


Iceworld, green boards, maroon lettering