I read Lucifer's Hammer when it first came out, and couldn't resist ordering it in audio. The authors do a solid job of storytelling. The hardest part of any end of the world story is maintaining a worthwhile story for the aftermath. Destroying the world is easy. Making the aftermath both credible and engaging is harder. Niven and Pournelle create characters with enough depth that you can care about them and they place them in credible and interesting situations. The narration is solid. As one reviewer noted, there are a lot of characters. In print, Niven and Pournelle provide a "program" at the front of their books so you can easily refer back and identify characters in the early going until you have them straight. That is missing here (it would be meaningless to read aloud.) Still, it doesn't take that long to place all the characters and the book is well paced.
It's an enjoyable listen that I'll return to from time to time. Worth the credit.
Yes, it's a bit dated, but it's also the first book of the comet/asteroid as the end of the world genre. In that sense it's groundbreaking and definitely worth reading.
Some people may have difficulty with the first several hours up until right before the comet makes landfall. Yes, the book jumps around, but there are lots of characters to weave into the narrative. And believe me, the payoff is worth it.
This was an entertaining audiobook, with a few key drawbacks that keep it from being 5 stars. First, as noted by many other reviewers, the narrator's female voices are pretty bad. They all come out sounding Southern. But I thought his male voices were well-distinguished, and the straight narration was good as well.
Secondly, the pacing of the story itself is a little strange. The entire first third is character introduction and buildup to the comet strike, then the second third is the strike and immediate aftermath, and the final section is the extended aftermath, including a kind of quick action climax that seems out of place compared to the general tone of suspense in the rest of the book. I felt the third part was rushed, while the first was too drawn out. That said, the writing is excellent throughout, and the various storylines intertwine in some unexpected ways. I put it in the same category as a fun summer action movie that turned out to be better than you expected.
I read this book twenty years ago, and it's always been one of my favorite "Apocalyptic" novels. I was so happy to see it released as an audiobook.
While some novels of this ilk don't stand up to the "technology test of time" -- written before the proliferation of cell phones and computers -- this one does, for the most part.
Niven and Pourelle's great characterizations make this a wonderfully compelling read, and one that is hard to put down. However, there are a LOT of characters, so it may help to go to a website that allows you to "look inside the book," and print out the beginning pages that list the "Dramatis Personae." Easier to jog your memory on a long listen like this one.
plot: comet hits earth, civilization crumbles.
definitely among niven/pournelle's best, and if you like the genre (end of the world) it is a classic. originally published in 1977, some aspects are understandably dated (cold war still in full swing, 'pocket computers'-i.e. calculators-are the height of technology) but it still feels relevant.
the narration is very good also, well-paced and inflected without being melodramatic and annoying.
This is really a book of two halves. The first half, in which our rogue asteroid is treated as a character, given a backstory and such, details the oh-so-slow-and-boring approach of armageddon. It's not tense, it's not sweaty-palm inducing, it's just dull. Mostly uninteresting characters do mostly uninteresting things as scientist endlessly debate how close this big chunk of doom will miss earth by. Now, forgive me for nit-picking, but I really don't see the point of devoting endless pages to characters repeatedly insisting the event the book is written around isn't going to happen. I know it's going to hit; that's why I bought the story. By all means, spend a little time on such things but anything more is flogging a dead horse.
And when the comet does, finally, touch down, the book improves. The mechanics of destruction, the effect of Lucifers Hammer on the Earth are particularly well done and suitably 'wow' in their description, as are the cascade of events that follow such a massive event.
But then the book just becomes a fairly generic post-apocalyptic tale. Looting, pillaging, rape, murder, gangs, some trying to get the world back up and running and some trying to burn the last few bits of civilisation left standing. It all feels very familiar and contains, with few exceptions, very little that strays off the well worn path of post apocalyptic fiction.
The benchmarks in this genre for me are The Stand, Alas Babylon and Swan Song, two of which thread the generic end of the world story with the supernatural and are much better for it and the other, Alas Babylon, is just a better written, more interesting and more immersive tale. Lucifer's Hammer is just a bit too 'The A to Z of The Apocalypse' to warrant much of a recommendation.
The narration is good, though sometimes the narrator lacks the ability to make voices easily distinguishable, but that's a minor gripe. It's just a ho-hum story.
The survivors come up with some similar solutions to having to do without technology. A bit plodding in some places but those were few and far between. A really engaging listen. I found myself wondering, "what about EMP"?
Just finished the book and I couldn't wait to write a review. Very enjoyable listen. A bit slow at the beginning as there are a lot of characters to introduce, but man oh man I couldn't stay away after that. The book is a realistic description of how a massive comet strike would affect the planet and an interesting take on how society would react to it. Lucifer's Hammer is well worth your time.
Eclectic, avid listener, favorite book is the one currently in ear.
Strange Book. Really wanted to like this, as I continue to search for books like "The Road" and "One Second After." The entire first section is nothing but set-up... goes on forever. Second part as event happens and the valley community is set up and organized is actually interesting. The third part part I just endured unable to suspend disbelief at all as the cannibles attack and they fight them off with mustard gas. The characters seem like cardboard sterotypes, placed on the event (the black, white, indians, female, smart, poor, rich, crazy and powerful) and everyone had "coupling" on the brain. Won't be reading again.
In spite of some slightly dated references, the story was totally engaging and we cared about the characters and what would happen next. My husband and I listened to it together as a bedtime story and it engendered many important discussions about general emergency preparedness and the state of the the world economy and food supply. This is a fascinating look at humans under extreme duress with a balanced view of the good, the bad and the ugly.