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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.

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings


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  • Overall

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.

28 of 28 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • DJM
  • Franklin, TN USA
  • 07-30-09

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.

68 of 70 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • J. Noonan
  • Austin, TX United States
  • 03-16-10

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.

19 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

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.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

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Too many men talk themselves into hating thier

Wives. Just some wisdom from Larry and Jerry.
As far as Armageddon novels go this is in the upper middle. If you have already listened to Alas Babylon, The Road, The Postman, and One Second After and still want more then buy the book. There is nothing new in this book. This was written in 1977, way before three of the books I mentioned, but that don't mean you should settle. After this then read The Stand or The Mysterious Island.

After I put the book on fast play, I found I liked the book a lot better. More on that later. Harry the Mailman had to be an influence in David Brin's, The Postman. It is dated, pocket calculators are rare and cost $200 to $300 dollars and white men are Honkies. It runs a little long and seems to have a couple of endings. It is all about California, because those of us in fly over country don't count. There are some interesting characters and interesting situations.

With about 18 hours left to go I was dreading listening for that long. As a last resort I put the player on fast forward. That made my opinion of the book go up two stars. I hate to be tough on narrators, but they can make or break a book with there talents or lack there of. During the disaster his narration of the carnage, reads like a To do List.

22 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kairiin
  • Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • 01-22-10

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.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • J
  • Greenville, SC, United States
  • 11-28-09

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.

35 of 38 people found this review helpful

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  • Bob
  • North Lauderdale, FL, United States
  • 01-21-10

Loved it!

This isn't your typical apocalyptic story. It starts out great but should have spent more time on the impact itself. It reads like 2 separate books and goes on and on. I did enjoy it but found the last 1/4 was a bit much. The story line was fine and "believable" for what happened. Regardless of all that, I'd buy it again in a minute!

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Pam F
  • Forest, VA, United States
  • 01-09-10

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"?

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

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Great Story Just Smashing ;-)

Would you listen to Lucifer's Hammer again? Why?

No. I rarely if ever llisten to a book again

What other book might you compare Lucifer's Hammer to and why?

Haven't read another book about a comet hitting the earth as good as this one! None compare

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I loved the ending while I did not laugh it certainly made me smile!

Any additional comments?

I highly recommend this one and will be looking for other books from this author

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • J. K. Hardin
  • 12-23-12


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.)

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Tara
  • 12-24-12

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).

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • 04-07-13

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Paul
  • 11-02-10

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

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-14-13

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

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  • Mr
  • 12-09-13

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 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Melissa Elenes
  • 09-09-13

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

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  • Mr
  • 07-24-13

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

  • Overall
  • Darryl
  • 04-16-11

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

  • Overall
  • Garethman
  • 09-04-12

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 3 people found this review helpful

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  • The Lazy Book Reviewer
  • 02-23-14

A Classic for a reason

Any additional comments?

This book is getting a tad long in the tooth, being first published in 1977. But age has not removed the shine from this classic apocalyptic novel. If anything I feel that the age of the book adds to the story and in places makes for some hilarious reading.

All this aside Lucifer's Hammer delivers a story of a world that is in the path of a comet. Mankind knows it is coming close, just not how close. The start of the book is used well in informing the reader about comets and the science of predicting their paths. Our main characters are well grounded and we get a good feel for them.

Then the world comes to an end and Armageddon is let loose upon the earth. We watch the survivors struggle to come to terms with their new reality. It is fascinating to see how they change. Some rise to the challenge and some lapse into depravity. The plot is not a new one nor does it comes as surprise. But what makes it a truly great read is how well the author tells his tale. Also the thought is always in the back of your mind that what you are reading may one day be your reality, which in itself is truly scary stuff.

This book did leave with one question. Why the hell was it no called hammer fall.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • 09-18-15

Boring, boring, boring

Slow as buggery, piss weak storyline, too many players who all do nothing. A total waste of time, how do I get my money back?

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  • Kman
  • 09-11-15

Terrible - The only book I have ever not finished

I am a calm person.

This book made me angry, I actually swore out a loud though shear frustration at the painful progression and boring characters. I found myself wishing the comet would come sooner just to wipe them would be a least to the listener.

I only gave it one star because I don't know how to give it zero.

Not only is this book not worth the money but I would pay aliens to delete the bits I have not been able to erase from my memory with beer.

Now I am stuck with it in my library and to this day I still get an eye twitch when I see the title....oh it can be that bad right? can, it takes talent to be this bad.