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.
"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)
Movie loving Brit living Down Under. Anything 'end of the world' themed usually gets my attention, but The Stand has yet to be beat.
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.
I never lost interest in the book. Some thought that the book started slow but I didn't. It kept me interested from start to finish. The start of the book was informative and set the stage for a very exiting finish.
This audiobook, written in 1977, is timeless. The characters and events which take place, could easily take place today. Well worth the listen.
You've seen it before -- except this was where you saw it 'before.' An old-fashioned meteor-strikes-Earth novel that I had somehow missed but that is somehow not "dated," although it is decades old (Yes, it is "dated" in terms of the technology, of course...but that would make any novel not set in the present time "dated."). The characters' reactions to total disaster are spot on and timeless. The writing is well done...I was engrossed. Could absolutely not stop listening.
I was intrigued by the title and found out that it was a clever play on a central character's name. I really enjoyed this audiobook and would highly recommend it. Check it out and you will see!!!!!
Niven and Pournelle combine to make a well developed, plausible outcome to a devastating direct strike by a comet. The character development is not overly drawn out and the story moves along well.
The beginning was very boring to me. I kept at it knowing that it had to get better after the comet hit. It did, but then, it ended way too quickly and some of the events were glossed over. Still, not a bad listen, could have been better...
Good read, dated material, but still a great story. There's plenty of character development and the story moves nicely. A cannibal army always makes for some fun times!
I don't think I could do this book more than once. It's just too dated, and felt long and drawn out at times. In spite of it being a decent book.
Easily Harry the mail man. He provided some much needed humor and is a breath of fresh air in contrast to the dreary ambiance of the book.
Probably the best part of this audio book was the reader.
The book is very dreary and mellencholy once you get past the first 4 hrs prior to the Comet striking. You are pretty much looking at a post apocolyptic landscape filled with murder and cannibalism with the stark reality of even good people doing what they must to survive not just on a personal level but as a species. Having to turn away whole families at the front gate of a stronghold just because they know they don;t have enough resources to support them is pretty much condemning the family to die. But some great points are raised about the neccessity of certain occupations and skills sets and how valueable they become to the greater good and the commune itself.
Again, Solid book, the only issue i take with it is it really dated itself by incorporating the cold war mentality of anti-communism sentiment. They also had a bunch of hippies in their own commune, and made several refrences to the vietnam war and what amounts to the Black Panther movement of the sixties. Who were also conveniently the "Bad Guys". All that just made this feel very dated and it was hard to get past that for me.
There was a time when Larry Niven was one of my favorite authors. Of course, that time was when I was an immature SF geek who didn't read much else. Okay, I still think "Ringworld" was kind of awesome. And I have fond memories of some of his other collaborations with Jerry Pournelle, e.g. "Footfall" and "Oath of Fealty." But the last few I have read really unearthed things I didn't notice when I was younger, and this one, which was one of their early collaboration, really shows its age.
"Lucifer's Hammer" is fine plot-wise. In fact, I'd say Niven and Pournelle always do very well with the plots and the hard SF. This is an end-of-the-world post-apocalypse adventure, and I love those like candy. So I enjoyed it despite groaning every now and then at the authors', ah... issues.
Written in 1977, "Lucifer's Hammer" is your basic "comet strike devastates Planet Earth" scenario. The Hamner-Brown comet is spotted months away by a wealthy amateur astronomer, and as it approaches, excitement turns to apprehension as scientists keep revising the estimate of the odds of the comet striking Earth from "billions to one" to "millions to one" to "thousands to one," and... you get the idea. It is not exactly a spoiler to say that the comet does, in fact, strike the Earth — in fact, it fragments into pieces which land in massive strikes all over the globe. Pretty much every coastal area is wiped out, there are massive weather changes, tectonic shifts bring volcanoes to life, so yeah, pretty much the end of global civilization, as least for a few generations. It doesn't help that as soon as the strikes begin, the USSR and China launch nukes at each other. Thanks in large part to a joint US-Soviet space mission, with astronauts and cosmonauts watching the entire Armageddon playing out from orbit, they are able to prevent the US from launching and being targeted in return.
The remainder of the story takes place in California, where survivors in the San Joaquin valley go about preparing for the coming ice age and trying to rebuild what little civilization they can. Needless to say, this is complicated by both internal tensions and external threats from an army of anti-technology fanatics who practice ritual cannibalism, led by a mad doomsday preacher.
It's very exciting stuff, and also fairly realistic in how it approaches both the social and technological challenges of survival in a post-armageddon scenario.
So why only three stars? Well, for starters, there is Niven and Pournelle's usual problem with women. It was even worse in "The Mote in God's Eye," and I was (pleasantly) surprised that there was not a lot of gratuitous rape to spice up the fall of civilization, but the female characters all pretty much go into instant "Attach myself to the nearest alpha-male" mode, and one of the characters is even referred to (ironically, and with awareness of her role, which she does not particularly like) as the "Princess" because her Senator father is the current leader of the survivors, and whoever marries her will ensure the stability and succession of the dynasty. So there was a little bit of awareness there, and yeah, it was written in 1977, but still, one gets the distinct impression that when the Senator's aide reflects smugly to himself that one of the few good things about Hammerfall was that it put an end to "Women's lib," he's kind of speaking for the authors.
Oh, then there's the part about that cannibal army forming around a group of Black Nationalists who were going on a crime spree when the Hammer fell. The New Brotherhood Army eventually becomes a multi-racial, ostensibly egalitarian organization ("egalitarian" in the sense that anyone regardless of race who steps out of line gets killed and eaten), but the leaders are the Black Nationalists and a black former Army sergeant. Until a white preacher comes and gives them a cause - namely, fighting technology. So, let's recap: when the Hammer falls and ends civilization, white farmers, politicians, and engineers start rebuilding a stable community, while black people turn into rampaging cannibals taking orders from a white guy. Umm, did nobody see any Unfortunate Implications in this even in 1977? I suppose Niven and Pournelle's defense would be that not all of the New Brotherhood Army is black, and there is a black astronaut who's one of the good guys, and a few black farmers in the Stronghold are mentioned. Well, okay then.
There's also an awful lot of "neener-neener, how do you granola-crunching hippies like your 'natural living' now?" as the survivors of a former commune realize that gosh, they really did like having electricity and plumbing. Niven and Pournelle do this a lot, as in "Fallen Angels," where they spend the entire book poking at environmentalists and anti-space and anti-nuclear activists. In "Lucifer's Hammer," the only surviving nuclear power plant becomes potentially the salvation of civilization.
White people, nuclear power, and the space program = good.
Black people, religion, and women's lib: Bad.
I am being a little snarky here. The authors weren't quite as horribly axe-grinding as, say, certain authors of political thrillers or grimdark fantasy. But still, this is a book that you will enjoy if you like the premise and don't pay much attention to subtext, but will probably annoy you if you do notice things like ALL THE BLACK PEOPLE BECOME CANNIBALS!
Entertaining, suspenseful, a very good post-apocalyptic thriller for hard SF fans, and also slightly sexist and really (if unintentionally) racist.
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.)
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).
"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.
"Post-apocalyptic entertainment at its best!"
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.
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.
No, but his performance was good compared to other readers.
Yes, but that was pretty unrealistic given the 24.5 hours required for that!
"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.
"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.
one of my favourite listens.
Harvey - trying to do the best he can in difficult circumstances
Batlle scence at the end
how quickly life can change
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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
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