Lucifer's Hammer - apocalyptic story telling from 1977

  • Posted on: 23 June 2018
  • By: Lore

Lucifer's Hammer Book CoverLarry Niven and Jerry Pournelle teamed up to tell this apocalyptic tale in 1977, which was a time before such stories were a dime a dozen. This is a book composed of two distinct parts with the first half following various individuals as they go about their normal, and somewhat boring lives, as well as following an un-named comet across the eons as various cosmic events affect its path.  The comet is eventually named Hamner-Brown upon discovery, and it quickly becomes known as "The Hammer" as TV coverage ramps up post discovery. The odds are a billion to one that it will hit Earth, but of course that would make for a boring book, so the second part of the book starts upon "Hammer Fall" and covers the impact this devastating event has to the planet as well as the characters from the first half.

For me personally the first half of the book was a bit slow and none of the characters really presented themselves as individuals that I wanted to get invested in, but after Hammer Fall that all changed. The pace of the story telling quickened dramatically and the character development felt far more meaningful once the world itself was irrevocably changed. The impact of the various pieces of the comet around the world was planet-altering and only a fraction of the population had any hope of survival. Of course humans being humans the apocalypse mostly brought out the worst in people and those that eventually found themselves in positions of power had some tough decisions to make about who lives and who dies. This second part of the book was much more engaging than the first and when it ended I found myself wanting more, which was a dramatic turn around from the drawn out beginning.

Overall I would say the story holds up well despite the era it was written in. You should know that there are a few areas where it doesn't age well, including the representation of women and attitudes towards race, but I still recommend giving this classic a try. For audiobook fans, Marc Vietor does an excellent job on the narration and handles the large cast of characters well.