Hal Clement's short story "Hot Planet" is freely available to read online at Project Gutenberg. I read it the other day and was more or less able to understand what was going on, but the number of different characters, often referred to by different names (e.g. who's to know that "Eileen" and "Dr Harmon" both refer to the same person until you see "Eileen Harmon" mentioned in the text later?), makes it difficult to follow exactly who is who and which characters are where. I like to be able to keep track of details like this in a story, so: what is the full list of named characters in this short story, their first names, surnames, and jobs/roles on the Albireo if known?

1 Answer 1


In order of their mentions in the story:

  • Dr. Mel/Milt Schlossberg, astronomer (meteorologist)
  • Dr. Joe Mardikian, geophysicist
  • Dr. Tom Marini, biologist
  • Dr. Camille Burkett, mineralogist
  • Dr. Eileen Harmon, stratigrapher
  • Willard Rowson, captain
  • Arnie Zaino, communications specialist
  • Mary Spurr, spacesuit technician
  • Eric Trackman, nuclear engineer
  • Ren Hargedon, technician
  • Luigi Aiello, (?)
  • (?) Babineau, medic

The more tricky deductions are:

  1. "Dr. Harmon, Dr. Schlossberg, Dr. Marini and Dr. Mardikian" are mentioned as "The geologists and the biologist [and] the astronomer", and we already know Schlossberg is an astronomer, Mardikian is a geophysicist, and Eileen (later revealed as Harmon) is a stratigrapher while Tom is a biologist. So Tom = Dr Marini.
  2. The captain says, "I require that Spurr, Trackman, Hargedon and Aiello go as drivers, since without them even a minor mechanical problem would be more than an adventure." Presumably the four of these are all some kind of technicians or engineers, rather than scientists, but as far as I can tell we don't get any more detail on Aiello, and nothing on Hargedon beyond one reference to him as a "technician", even though they're more developed characters than Spurr or Trackman who are only mentioned once each after this quote.
  3. Babineau is only mentioned once, very fleetingly, and only by a single name, presumably a surname. There may well be other crew aboard the Albireo who aren't mentioned at all.
  4. Schlossberg is mentioned several times, but only once by his full name and once, presumably, by a (different) first name; both times Camille Burkett is the speaker. As Clara Diaz Sanchez points out in a comment here, "Mel" who could take weather measurements must be the same person as "Milt" Schlossberg, the astronomer turned meterologist.
  • 1
    One final point of confusion, the "Mel" who "could take his own weather measurements on the later trip" is presumably Milt Schlossberg, the astronomer acting as a meteorologist. Feb 1, 2021 at 16:51

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