Book Recommendation - Lucifer's Hammer


Posted on : 1/28/2013 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , ,

A comet comes dropping into our solar system from the reaches of space between the stars.  Astronomers and physicists believe it will pass close to the Earth.

But exactly how close?

"Lucifer's Hammer" is the tale of a comet that travels around our sun and then sprays the surface of the earth with disastrous results for humanity.  It is the tale of the humanity that survives...barely...the impact of several mountains upon the earth, the earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis hundreds of feet tall, fires, floods, famine, and humanity itself.

Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle tell their story from several different perspectives; one of the discoverers of the comet, the producer/director that prepares a documentary series on the comet, a couple government scientists, a US Senator, a thug/community activist, an Army sergeant, a postal carrier, an engineer in charge of building a nuclear power plant, four astronauts, and the friends, family, and co-workers that surround them.  Some survive.  Most don't.  Most of the survival isn't pleasant.  Some isn't too bad.

I'd rather have electricity, modern medicine, technology, and all that entails. 

For the first half of the book, I was pretty certain that this book wouldn't make my book recommendation series.  Due to the number of characters, the book jumps quite a bit from scene to scene.  While I have read many books that use the same plot device, in this case it was a bit difficult to mentally separate the people and scenes so that the context of the progressing story would remain intact.

By comparison, the books of George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Fire and Ice" series unfold in a dozen locations across two different continents.  The characters and locations are described in sufficient detail and exist with sufficient diversity that jumping from scene to scene and character to character does not detract from the story.

And then the comet struck.  After that point, I behaved in a most disreputable fashion; reading until way past midnight when I clearly should not.

Imagine a world where a diabetic scientist chooses to manufactures mustard gas and catapults instead of developing a means of manufacturing insulin.  And is considered a hero for his fatal choices.

Imagine a world without technology.  A world where a simple lathe would be a miracle.  A world where either your moral calculus shifts, or you die.  A world where an eight hour work day and a five day work week are luxuries.

I'd rather not.  But for 629 pages, I did.

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