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Lucifer's Hammer | [Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle]

Lucifer's Hammer

The gigantic comet had slammed into Earth, forging earthquakes a thousand times too powerful to measure on the Richter scale, tidal waves thousands of feet high. Cities were turned into oceans; oceans turned into steam. It was the beginning of a new Ice Age and the end of civilization. But for the terrified men and women chance had saved, it was also the dawn of a new struggle for survival--a struggle more dangerous and challenging than any they had ever known....
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Publisher's Summary

The gigantic comet had slammed into Earth, forging earthquakes a thousand times too powerful to measure on the Richter scale, tidal waves thousands of feet high. Cities were turned into oceans; oceans turned into steam. It was the beginning of a new Ice Age and the end of civilization.

But for the terrified men and women chance had saved, it was also the dawn of a new struggle for survival - a struggle more dangerous and challenging than any they had ever known....

©1985 Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Take your earthquakes, waterlogged condominiums, swarms of bugs, colliding airplanes, and flaming what-nots, wrap them up and they wouldn't match one page of Lucifer's Hammer for sweaty-palmed suspense." (Chicago Daily News)
"Massively entertaining." (Cleveland Plain-Dealer)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (3293 )
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4.2 (1922 )
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Performance
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  •  
    DJM Franklin, TN USA 07-30-09
    DJM Franklin, TN USA 07-30-09 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good story from front to back"

    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.

    41 of 41 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric Berger Houston, TX 08-26-09
    Eric Berger Houston, TX 08-26-09 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very solid book"

    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.

    17 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Noonan Austin, TX United States 03-16-10
    J. Noonan Austin, TX United States 03-16-10 Member Since 2010
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    "Very enjoyable"

    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.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J Greenville, SC, United States 11-28-09
    J Greenville, SC, United States 11-28-09 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great listening"

    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.

    30 of 32 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dave Cole 08-29-09
    Dave Cole 08-29-09 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great book, great narrator."

    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.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ian Frankston South, Australia 02-26-12
    Ian Frankston South, Australia 02-26-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Half Decent"

    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.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Reisterstown, MD, United States 01-09-10
    Amazon Customer Reisterstown, MD, United States 01-09-10 Member Since 2007
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    "Eerie parallel to "One Second After""

    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"?

    14 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jan Rochester, NY, United States 02-17-13
    Jan Rochester, NY, United States 02-17-13 Member Since 2011

    Eclectic, avid listener, favorite book is the one currently in ear.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "End of the world + Payton Place + Indiana Jones ="

    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.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel Pasadena, CA, USA 01-06-10
    Daniel Pasadena, CA, USA 01-06-10 Member Since 2009
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    "Throughly enjoyable."

    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.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kairiin Montreal, Quebec, Canada 01-22-10
    Kairiin Montreal, Quebec, Canada 01-22-10
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    "What a great story"

    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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 169 results PREVIOUS1217NEXT
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  • J. K. Hardin
    London, UK
    12/23/12
    Overall
    "Flawless"

    Disaster fiction at its best. Lucifer's hammer spends exactly the right amount of time building toward the cataclysm, and then continues to grip the reader all the way through. A page turner, so to speak, which I find rare for a book of this length.

    (Also, personally, this satisfies my itch for post apocalyptic fiction, too, with the added fun of seeing how the 'apocalypse' happens.)

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Mr
    Wirral, United Kingdom
    12/9/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Comet one Earth none"

    The film they should have made instead of Armageddon.
    The story follows the struggle for survival against nature and barbarism to retain civilization, after a comet hits the Earth.
    Niven and Pournelle at their best.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Tara
    Dun Laoghaire, Ireland
    12/24/12
    Overall
    "Best-of genre"

    I keep coming back to this book again and again. It's brilliantly written and a pleasure to read. The story is told from several different viewpoints and the characters all feel real and believable. The disintegration of society and way people's lives change after the hammer are well done. A little 1970s-ish in places, but not in a bad way. I expect I'll be reading this again (and again).

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Gareth
    Beaumaris, United Kingdom
    9/4/12
    Overall
    "Pretty good for a pre-silicon novel."

    Science fiction does not usually age well, and this epic written before mobile phones, internet and laptops is strange and hard to get used to initially. But read in the same way as H.G.Wells or other historic science fiction it does pretty well. The introduction of the characters is somewhat long winded, but once the action starts it's a rip roaring listen. I liked the ideas behind the post apacalypse survival stuff suggesting how quickly humanity could return to the laws of the jungle. It has a few holes in the plot, but not enough to affect it in any great sense. Recommended.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Paul
    Skelmersdale, Lancashire, United Kingdom
    11/2/10
    Overall
    "Better 2012 than the film"

    I enjoyed this book very much, I liked the way it plays out in the end, it wasn?t a happy end or sad but I could imagine it happing this way, worth getting.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    England
    12/14/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Post-apocalyptic entertainment at its best!"
    What did you like most about Lucifer's Hammer?

    The story kept moving and the various threads set up at the start of the story were woven into a believable whole towards the end.


    What did you like best about this story?

    A solid and reasonably detailed look at how the earth and humanity would be impacted by a comet strike. A fascinating topic to me and very well written by the authors.


    Have you listened to any of Marc Vietor’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    No, but his performance was good compared to other readers.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, but that was pretty unrealistic given the 24.5 hours required for that!


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Francisco J. Elenes
    Lake Oswego, OR USA
    9/9/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A 1970’s take on the End of the World"

    Before Deep Impact, before Armageddon there was Lucifer’s Hammer.

    The novel is Crichton-nesque in its foundation in real science and level of detail; they carefully build the story and it teaches you a lot about comets/meteors and the havoc they can cause.

    It was told from a 1970’s perspective; but good story telling doesn’t go out of fashion and it actually it’s a bit interesting looking back it after 40 years it ages well, almost a period sci-fi piece.

    The Authors Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle are very well read and they disperse at the beginning of chapter insightful quotes from various other authors throughout the book. It helps make for very interesting reading, and I think I’ve added several new books on my to-read list.

    It does start slow, but you need to have little patience while he builds the characters for you.

    After the strike the second story begins, and it is as riveting as the telling of the strike and preparation for it are. It held my attention to the end.
    An Interesting and satisfying read.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mr
    United Kingdom
    7/24/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Timeless classic"
    Where does Lucifer's Hammer rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    one of my favourite listens.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Harvey - trying to do the best he can in difficult circumstances


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    Batlle scence at the end


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    how quickly life can change


    Any additional comments?

    really good book, not dated and tackles the real issues faced by humanity after such a catastrophic event. Good characterisation and I would love to see a sequel or movie!
    Book went along at good pace.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • MAVIS
    Bideford, United Kingdom
    4/7/13
    Overall
    "Is this the end?"

    I saw this book and the narrater and knew it must be good. The many strands are woven together in unexpected ways. It is not until the last page that it all comes together and it leaves you wanting more. My kind of book. Not the armeggedon you are expecting.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Darryl
    Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, United Kingdom
    4/16/11
    Overall
    "An Older Story with Current Themes"

    This a story of the time! Tsunamis and earthquakes, whilst triggered this time by a meteor shower, gives a powerful image of what would happen. It's scary stuff, because it is based on scientific facts and we can all see just how devastating such an event would be. Scary also is how soon people revert to looting, violence and the law of physical might. It is survival of the fittest all over again. You cannot help thinking that we really have not moved very far forward in our evolution. It will make you think about much we rely on technology that is fragile and useless when fuel is not available. How good would any of us be in building from scratch? Where would the raw materials come from? What would you do with the raw materials anyway?
    I certainly want to read more books from this legendary duo and luckily Audible has them available.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
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