Sci-Fi Storm

Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

by on Jun.18, 2002, under Books

Most of you have seen Armageddon – and probably a few of you like me scoffed at the realism. You’ve probably seen Deep Impact with a somewhat more realistic portrayal. Well, neither hold a candle to Lucifer’s Hammer, probably the most realistic portrayal of any “big rock hits Earth” movie. Read More.


Now I realize this book was written in 1977 – 25 years ago. Some of the stuff IS dated – a joint Apollo-Suyuz mission is part of the story, as the Space Shuttle program was still in development. And perhaps the inability for scientists to more accurately predict the likelyhood of the comet striking the Earth is also dated, but this book is still the best of the “big rock hits Earth” stories – to the point of striking fear in you wonder what would happen if one really did hit the Earth.

To begin with, this is NOT the typical story, where someone detects asteroid/comet/whatever, a space mission is mounted, and deflects it/blows it up/makes it harmless, with relatively minor effect on the Earth. In this one, the space mission was simply to observe, as up into the last minute they still believed it would miss – and in any case, there was probably little that could be done. The comet strikes – and that is relatively early in the story. The bulk of the story takes place afterwards.

Multiple strikes take place around the world. The southern California coast and most of the Eastern Seaboard are completely wiped out by the Tsunamis (the water impacts are far more devastating than the land strikes), a nuclear war happens (and that’s a minor story!), governments and law enforcement cease to exist, and those who managed to survive the initial impact must deal with constant salt-and-mud rain, earthquakes, food shortages, an impending ice age, vigilantes, robbers, and even cannibalism, as they try and band together and try and plan the continuation is civilization.

Put simply, this is a sociology story with a hard SF premise. A very realistic one, which makes you want to develop a plan – just in case.



1 Comment for this entry

  • Anonymous Coward

    “Hammer of God”

    By Arthur C. Clarke is also pretty good. It’s set in the future, though.