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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 (3391 )
5 star
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4.1 (2031 )
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Story
4.2 (2011 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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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.

    49 of 50 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.

    20 of 20 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
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ian Frankston South, Australia 02-26-12
    Ian Frankston South, Australia 02-26-12 Member Since 2010

    Movie loving Brit living Down Under. Anything 'end of the world' themed usually gets my attention, but The Stand has yet to be beat.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.

    11 of 11 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.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel Pasadena, CA, USA 01-06-10
    Daniel Pasadena, CA, USA 01-06-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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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.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J Greenville, SC, United States 11-28-09
    J Greenville, SC, United States 11-28-09 Member Since 2008
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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.

    33 of 36 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.

    7 of 7 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.

    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
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
  • Showing: 1-10 of 170 results PREVIOUS1217NEXT
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  • marc
    United Kingdom
    6/8/12
    Overall
    "A book of three parts - boring, ok and good"

    The first third of this book is pretty boring. Once things start to happen then the next third starts to become interesting as they realise what's going to happen and deal with the initial impact.

    It's the final third which gets good.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Corky
    10/22/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Endless!"
    What disappointed you about Lucifer's Hammer?

    Totally lost interest in the characters and plot.


    Has Lucifer's Hammer put you off other books in this genre?

    I would try a sample first next time


    What aspect of Marc Vietor’s performance might you have changed?

    He could only perform to the best of his ability with the content he was given.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disappointment


    Any additional comments?

    Returned this book before i came to the end as i just could not have cared less what happens at the end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Stella OMara
    UK
    3/19/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent"
    What made the experience of listening to Lucifer's Hammer the most enjoyable?

    This is the ultimate 'end of the world as we know it' novel. A great story.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Robert
    Putney, United Kingdom
    1/5/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Was totall engrossed"
    If you could sum up Lucifer's Hammer in three words, what would they be?

    Epic, memorable, brilliant


    What did you like best about this story?

    The length - I love a long story and this is a real epic.

    I agree with other reviews though - the lead up to the event doesn't need to be as long. Also some battles were missed out, I would've liked to have experienced those.


    What does Marc Vietor bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    Accents. Very good accents.


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

    It's coming


    Any additional comments?

    Loved it. Just wish it had gone on longer. Have read a few in this genre and it's up there with Earth Abides as my favourite but this has more action. Earth Abides being more philosophical

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • john
    Uxbridge, United Kingdom
    5/5/12
    Overall
    "Dated and slow"

    The advantage of a lot of sci-fi and fantasy is that, as it is set outside of it's own time, it usually dates well. This book however feels very much like a product of the early seventies and this is really apparent in the attitudes of the characters and the roles that women play. The pace is slow and the characters are not particularly interesting. After five hours of listening I decided that I didn't care if any of these people got squished by a comet and hit delete.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • H
    BOSTON, United Kingdom
    12/28/11
    Overall
    "All time apocalyptic classic"

    Lucifers Hammer is an absolute classic in the "end of the world" genre. Dark, gritty, occasionally sexy and funny. Well drawn characters struggle with the destruction of the world they know and the affects this have on their accepted morality. Action packed, but also a book that challenges the readers ideas of right and wrong

    Compelling stuff.

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Martin
    Inerness, United Kingdom
    1/8/10
    Overall
    "Much better than those that came after"

    It seems a storyline that was killed by Hollywood with some pretty poor movies. But this book is much more entertaining than those well known dodgy movies with similar storylines, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing. It has been emulated many times since published in one way or another, but in the disaster survival setting this book follows, it is a very good entertaining story. - Was interested to see that Arthur C Clarke published a book 20 years later called "Gods Hammer" about a comet strike on earth - wonder if they are similar in other ways - would like to get that on Audible... Recommend if you like "end of civilisation" stories with bad guys and heroes.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Mo
    Scotland
    4/29/10
    Overall
    "Predictable Disaster Story"

    A comet hits the earth and affects a diverse bunch of Californians. It all seemed a bit dated to me. It also seemed forever for the story to get going with the first part of the book really dragging. There's a whole chapter on mail getting delivered! Apart from that, if you like disaster stories, you may enjoy listening to a Californian apocalypse. I just didn't enjoy it that much.

    3 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • swimmerpaul
    4/15/11
    Overall
    "Lucifers Hammer"

    Very disappointed the story wonders all over the place the reader is American and just doesn't do it.

    4 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Des
    7/7/10
    Overall
    "Must read"

    This book was just brilliant - the stark realities of our fragile society............

    2 of 6 people found this review helpful
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