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“Proof” by Hal Clement

July 5, 2010

The Book: “Proof” by Hal Clement.  Story originally published in 1942 by Astounding Science Fiction.  Read in the anthology Where Do We Go from Here? edited by Isaac Asimov published by Fawcett Crest in 1972.

The Setting: The Sun

The Story: A solar being (Solarian) tells a scientist of a related species about a mysterious crash.  Spoiler: turns out the crash was on Earth.  The solar species are pretty sure that solid matter is impossible, so Earth can’t exist, logically.

The Science: Wait, what?  Organisms evolving on the sun?  Certainly not with life as we know it.  But life as we know it still gets pretty weird.  Take, for example, the hyperthermophile, a type of extremophile that thrives at temperatures between 140 and 212 degrees F.  Which is nothing compared to the 10,000 degrees F (or so) sun.  But still, science has only discovered these crazy little life forms recently, and they’re discovering more all the time in environments which are very inhospitable.

The Reaction: Nice story.  I like these stories that aren’t (primarily) from the human perspective.

The Cover: A generalized science fiction anthology cover with what may be planets or molecules or whatever.  But mostly, ASIMOV.

Etc: Second appearance of the term Solarians – the first referred to humans in Asimov’s “Homo Sol.” Bonus nerdage: Doctor Who did an episode involving solar life.

Next Up: “John Carter and the Giant of Mars,” in John Carter of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

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