Hal Clement, the dean of hard science fiction, has written a new planetary adventure. Like his classic Mission of Gravity, it is part of a tradition of excellence dating back to the 1940s, for which Clement has been recognized as a Grand Master of SF by the Science Fiction Writers of America.Noise is the kind of story that made his reputation as a meticulous designer of otherworldly settings. Clement's worlds are utterly convincing because they are constructed from the ground up, using established principles of orbital mechanics, geology, chemistry, biology, and physics.Kainui is one of a pair of double planets in a binary star system. Mike Hoani has come there to study the language of the colonists, to analyze its evolution in the years since settlement.Kainui is an ocean planet. Although settled by Polynesians, it is anything but a tropical paradise. The ocean is 1700 miles deep, with no solid ground anywhere. The population is scattered in cities on floating artificial islands with no fixed locations. The atmosphere isn't breathable, and lightning, waterspouts and tsunamis are constant.Out on the great planetary ocean. self-sufficiency is crucial, and far from any floating city, on a small working-family ship, anything can happen. Mike's academic research turns into an exotic nautical adventure unlike anything he could have imagined. At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
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August 31, 2003
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Excerpt from Noise by Hal Clement
Poetically and almost literally, Kainui's mantle is at endless war with its overlying ocean. Perhaps they are simply too intimate; they confront each other directly, with no identifiable intervening crust. The underside of the interface is not quite liquid most of the time; the upper is technically gas, since the ocean at that depth is far above water's critical temperature.
What pass for tectonic plates, from township to county size, are solid enough to crack and tilt and be carried as individual units by mantle convection. Tsunamis are generated constantly, sometimes by abrupt plate shifts -- quakes -- sometimes by vulcanism, though there is nothing at all like a Terrestrial volcano on the world.
When magma emerges from the mantle to become lava and meets the sea there is of course violence, but Kainui has never experienced a Krakatoa-type steam blast. The weight of twenty-eight hundred kilometers of water, nearly all of it far saltier than any Earth ocean, provides some eighty thousand atmospheres of pressure. A few hundred kelvins rise in temperature has no real effect on either phase or volume.
So when, one day, a tenth of a cubic kilometer of glowing liquid silicate was suddenly exposed to ocean bottom along the line between two spreading plates, the result was merely a linear-source sound wave.
Its front spread out as wave fronts do, trying to become flatter and flatter as it left its source behind. It failed miserably. It passed through layers of differing salinity, temperature, and tonnage of suspended matter. Sometimes locally it turned concave and was focused so narrowly as almost to regain its original pressure. Sometimes it diverged, but its total energy degraded only gradually toward heat.