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Lucifer's Hammer Mass Market Paperback – May 12, 1985
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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 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From the Inside Flap
The gigantic comet had slammed into Earth, forging earthquakes a thousand times too powerful to measure on the Richter scale, tidal waves thousands of feet high. Cities were turned into oceans; oceans turned into steam. It was the beginning of a new Ice Age and the end of civilization. But for the terrified men and women chance had saved, it was also the dawn of a new struggle for survival--a struggle more dangerous and challenging than any they had ever known....
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There is a mix of good science, good writing, and relatively accurate story telling here, best I can tell.... (not having lived thru a comet strike). The characters are pretty well developed and are many, enough to make you have to remember who is who, sometimes that is not easy. But the pay-off is good...both of the writers are well known, and well respected, in the genre...and the collaboration seems seamless. T'is a good action story, and maybe the precursor to a list of other stories that followed, perhaps...
A good, immersive read, well paced, with a satisfying ending, of sorts... curl up and enjoy...
Ok, there are points where the story doesn't hold up well due to the passage of time. Calculators vs slide rules, the "little woman" waiting at home, etc. but overall it's still a very good story about people and what they would do in an earth shattering disaster.
The best way to read the novel, as with Tom Clancy, is to continuously ask yourself, "what would I do?" While the protagonists may not do what you would do, the continual re-examination of the current situation based on what did happen is a great intellectual exercise by itself. Simply put, this novel makes you think. December 31, 1999 did make me think about Lucifer's Hammer - as did September 11. Any book that makes you examine yourself, your priorities, and your moral relevance - regardless of the actual plot - is the mark of an excellent work of literature.
Dated? Sure - but if that's what's holding you back, then don't read Gateway, The Andromeda Strain, or other fantastic novels that use some general timeframe as their basis.
By the way, if you're wondering what I think the best multiple book fiction work is - it's the Well World series by Jack L. Chalkner. Weigh that against what I've written above.
As far as the accusations of racism, I certainly did not get a feel that this book was a racist book. Again, there is a huge difference between stereotyping and racism.
I think the take away message of this book is to be prepared.