By: Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
Of the many genre’s I read, my favorites are Science Fiction, Fantasy, and the subset of both called Apocalyptic fiction. If you look at most lists of the influential novels in those genres, you’ll most likely find Lucifer’s Hammer. That’s what convinced me that I needed to add it to my to-read list and, eventually, to get around to reading it. Having read it, I see why it’s on many of those lists.
Hammer is a novel that is based around the discovery of a new comet, and the eventual meeting of that comet with planet Earth. The story follows a host of characters that are involved in some way before the comet arrives and then after it arrives. Having been written in the late 70’s, some of the ideas and references are dated, but the writing has certainly stood the test of time.
Nearly the first half of the book is spent building up to the eventual impact of the comet. We meet the characters who all have their own independent lives, and are led through so many avenues of how people might feel should they be faced with a comet that is going to pass threateningly close to Earth. After the comet arrives, we get a wonderful post-apocalyptic story about the survival of the human race, and how those humans react to the upsetting of the world as they know it.
Lucifer’s Hammer is a great apocalyptic story that’s maintained that story despite being almost 4 decades old. If you’re at all interested in apocalyptic fiction and haven’t read it yet, now’s the time to add it to your list.