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Lucifer's Hammer Paperback – January 27, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

I think this is one of the most exciting, inspiring books I've ever read. Humankind, faced with overwhelming cataclysm, regroups to fight its way back to civilization. All the way back; no settling for another uncomfortable, time-wasting Dark Age. It is a story with brain and heart--and a lot of both--and I can't figure how it missed that list of the hundred best books of the century.

--Veronica Chapman, Senior Editor

From the Inside Flap

Monumental devastation will sweep across the globe if the newly-discovered Hamner-Brown comet collides with the one major obstacle in its path: Earth.

For millionaire Tim Hamner, the comet is a ticket to immortality. For filmmaker Harvey Randall, it's a shot to redeem a flagging career. And for astronauts John Baker and Rick Delanty, it's a second chance for glory in outer space.

But for a world gripped by comet fever, fascination quickly turns to fear. And only those who survive the impact will know the even greater terror, when rich and poor, politicians and killers, turn to each other or against each other--and the remnants of humanity grow savage to battle for what little remains . . .

Including an all-new introduction by the authors!

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 628 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; 1st Ballantine Books trade pbk. ed edition (January 27, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345421396
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345421395
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (771 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,524,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

382 of 398 people found the following review helpful By Michael P. Clawson on October 18, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
There have been so many reviews accusing this book of being racist that I guess I'll have to address that issue before I can even talk about my opinion of the book. What a lot of people don't seem to realize these days is that there's a differnce between portraying racism (e.g. in a novel) and actually supporting racism. In my opinion Niven and Pournelle weren't trying to stereotype blacks or make any kind of political statement, they were simply depicting something that could likely take place. It's not all that far fetched to believe that an inner city LA gang of African-Americans would band together after an apocalypse and might hook up with a radical fanaticist army promising them power, plenty to eat, and no racial barriers. And they weren't the only ones doing this. As I remember, they weren't even the ones who started the cannibalism. That was an army platoon mainly composed of white guys who did that, and forced everyone else to come on board or else starve or be killed. As I see it Niven and Pournelle gave a fairly accurate depiction of race relations as they stood in 1970. If I thought they were deliberately targeting one group or another and trying to negatively stereotype them, I could just as easily complain that this book is biased against Christians since it displayed the leader of the cannibals as an insane preacher. But I don't complain because I know they weren't trying to take potshots at Christianity, they were merely portraying what could happen, same as they were portraying what could happen to an inner city gang after the end of the world.
That being said. I do think that this book was one of the best end of the world stories I have read yet. It is riveting and you won't be able to put it down after the Hammer actually falls.
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204 of 216 people found the following review helpful By Alan R. Holyoak on January 19, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I just finished "Lucifer's Hammer," and, well, I'm impressed! Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle have done a wonderful job in weaving a tale of excitement, fear, devastation, fear, desperation, and hope. This is 5-star sci-fi all the way!
If all you read is the first 100 pages, however, you probably won't agree with that. You see, the first part of the book is a bit slow in getting moving, but that's because the authors introduce a whole string of characters that interact with one another as the story and the action unfolds. And once the action starts, it doesn't stop. In fact, it makes you want to store some food, some water, some other things...and get ready for what COULD happen.
As I started reading this book I thought to myself, this book has many similarities with the movie "Deep Impact." Was I ever wrong with that assumption! This book goes way beyond "Deep Impact." It goes beyond it in that this book is not so much about events surrounding a comet-earth collision as it is about the aftermath, and how people do or do not cope with that kind of calamity.
Imagine cataclysmic events wipe out the major governments on the planet -- national, state, and local governments collapse, and people are left to fend for themselves. What will they do for food, shelter, personal safety, information, etc.? It's a whole new ballgame out there! The kinds of challenges described in the book bring out the best in some people, the worst in others, and trapped in the middle of everything that's happening are the characters you'll come to know quite well.
The characters are, for the most part, believable, the plot development is rivetting, and the conclusion is satisfying.
Do good guys always finish first? Do they even survive?
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113 of 118 people found the following review helpful By Schtinky VINE VOICE on May 5, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Stephen King's 'The Stand' was virus, Robert R. McCammon's 'Swan Song' was nuclear, Thomas Disch's 'The Genocides' was alien plant growth, Walter J. Williams 'The Rift' was earthquake; and 'Lucifer's Hammer' is annihilation by comet. Each of these books are 'must have's' for fans of Apocalypse Fiction.

The major protagonist is Tim Hamner, a rich-boy with nothing to do but indulge his fascination with the stars. Hamner, along with a young boy named Gavin Brown from Iowa, discover a comet heading towards earth. The comet, Hamner-Brown, soon becomes known as The Hammer, as scientists plot its course closer and closer to Earth's orbit.

Hamner makes acquaintance with Harvey Randall, a news reporter who wants to make a documentary series on the comet. Joining with them is Dr. Charles Sharps from the Jet Propulsion Laboratories, Senator Arthur Jellison and his daughter Maureen, Dr. Dan Forrester, an astronomy Phd and computer programmer, a team of astronauts, and a dedicated postal worker named Harry Newcombe.

The story centers around Los Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley, after pieces of the "calved" comet hit all across the world, causing first earthquakes and then a massive tidal wave to hit the Los Angeles basin. Senators, rich men, thieves and killers are suddenly made equal in the wake of Mother Nature. Rich and poor take on a whole new meaning in a society that suddenly has different values and different needs.

Senator Jellison owns a ranch in the foothills of the Sierras, and along with his neighbor George Christopher begins to form an aftermath society bent on survival at all costs.
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