Lucifer's Hammer

Vladimir

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I believe this book is already mentioned in several threads here, but it probably deserves one of its own.
For once, this is probably the best apoclayptic/post-apocalyptic book I've ever read. Perhaps it doesn't get enough attention because it starts off painfully slow and lacks any memorable characters. It doesn't have any spectacular action pieces or any sense of romanticism and adventure typically associated with the genre.
Instead it offers a very pragmatic and realistic view of the collapse of our society and the beginning of a new one. Everything is rather matter-of-fact: famine, survival of the fittest, organization, raidings, even cannibalism. Not overly bleak, and at no point gratuitous, it simply applies common sense and research to speculative fiction, so I was pretty convinced that almost everything described in the book was plausible.

In the end, the writers also use the book's premise to build their point: the level of "civilization" of a human society correspond to its technological level first and foremost. I believe there's a statement that goes something like "we are as humaniatrian as our technology allows us to be". The climax of the book is not a battle between good guys and bad guys, but a debate on whether it is worth going to a war in order to get hold of a nuclear power plant.

I found it to be very powerful and convincing stuff. What do you think?
 

jojajihisc

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I also liked the book a lot although it's been a while since I read it. You mention several things I had forgotten about and describe the same reasons I liked it. I remember the moment of the impact and the wave that hits the West Coast. I remember them mentioning the albedo of the Earth increasing after the impact and therefore greatly altering the planet's climate. Great book.
 

Rodders

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Yeah, i remember reading this back in the 80s but don't remember much about it. Maybe it's time to pick it up again?
 

GOLLUM

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For those people who may not be overly familiar with this classic work, the following details apply...:)

Title: Lucifer's Hammer.
Category: Post-apocalyptic SF.
Type: Novel.
Authors: Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle.
Publication: 1977.
Awards: Nominee Hugo Award, novel category.
 

Diggler

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I have had this, along with Footfall, in my collection for a very long time. I must admit I have been put off due to the sheer size of the novels. But will have to give this one a go soon.

I just have to finish off Clive Barker's Books of Blood first. :)
 

Vince W

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I had these books (Lucifer's Hammer and Footfall), but a flood got to them before I did. I'm going to check abebooks right now. I wanted to read them, but never got around to picking them up again.

Thanks for the reminder.
 

clovis-man

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Yeah, i remember reading this back in the 80s but don't remember much about it. Maybe it's time to pick it up again?

It must be a book that creates bouts of amnesia. I have the same experience. I also read Footfall at around the same time and remember it quite well. But Lucifer's Hammer seems to have leaked from my memory.
 

Rodders

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LOL. Me too, only i can't remember either. :(
 

chrispenycate

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Footfall is twin-trunked elephants in tennis shoes. Hammer is the surfer riding the ultimate wave which is smashing LA.

I find "Lucifer's Hammer" far from their most imaginative collaboration; I even prefer "Oath of Fealty". And vastly the Moties.
 

Vladimir

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Footfall is twin-trunked elephants in tennis shoes. Hammer is the surfer riding the ultimate wave which is smashing LA.

I find "Lucifer's Hammer" far from their most imaginative collaboration; I even prefer "Oath of Fealty". And vastly the Moties.

I agree that Lucifer's Hammer is not much in the way of imagination, there are no crazy ideas to blow your mind to be found here (maybe I say that because I'm nto into surfing). On the contrary, it's a very pragmatic book, which doesn't even read like sci-fi. But that's what I find so extraordinary about it. Everything is plausible and makes sense. In todays' time of uncertainty and a general feeling of earth shaking under our feet, I find this book to be right on the spot, even educative. It's about how we should apply our common sense to critical situations and not be clouded by fantasies, emotions, etc.
 

jojajihisc

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I even prefer "Oath of Fealty". And vastly the Moties.

Ooh, can't agree on the former but definitely on the latter. Significant gaps in quality between all three for me. I do like how you remember the two books though. Reminds me of me.
 

rai

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I read this book 25 years ago and again last year.

I did not think it was as good as I had remembered it to be. It was great and well worth the read but not near as good (IMO) as "The Stand" for example which I have read in the same time frame (and re-read). Just IMO "The Stand" had more going for it.

One thing I like is looking back on that era of time, and to think how the world was way different without internet, cell phones and when an SUV was something not of the norm.

Well worth the read.

(other good post-apocaliptic books I have read in the past year or two were: "The Postman" and "Deus Irae"
 

Vladimir

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Conceptually, "The Stand" is similar. It's written in much more engaging and interesting way, too. And I've read it way before "The Luciefer's Hammer" and still remember most of the characters (which I can't say about LH). However, it is not a book grounded on reality and halfway through it goes in a completely fantastic direction. Not saying it is bad, but in the end it is more entertaining than thought-provoking.
 

rai

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I have another book (not read yet) called "Shiva Desending" about a same thing supposed to have inspired "Armageddon" and "Deep Impact" movies.
 

Timba

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Conceptually, "The Stand" is similar. It's written in much more engaging and interesting way, too. And I've read it way before "The Luciefer's Hammer" and still remember most of the characters (which I can't say about LH). However, it is not a book grounded on reality and halfway through it goes in a completely fantastic direction. Not saying it is bad, but in the end it is more entertaining than thought-provoking.

Agreed, I enjoyed both books but LH had a sense of reality to it that was lost in The Stand. Niven and Pournelle's best remains A Mote in God's Eye imho.
 

natterjack

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I've enjoyed all of the Niven & Pournelle collaborations. I seem to recall reading in one of Pournelle's collections of essays that the pair had a very rigorous approach to their writing. In the case of Hammer I think they modelled a meteor strike, worked out where the areas of devastation would be and which areas would support displaced survivors and then started working out the survivors' tales...
 

neopeius

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I found the first third to be slow going. Niven and Pournelle often write two books' worth and then forget to edit it down to the length of one :)

That said, Parts 2 and 3 are riveting, and after I'd read them a few times, I was able to read Part 1 without trouble. It is a paean to the glories of nuclear power, however.
 

Lew Rockwell Fan

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OK, I know this thread is over 2 years dead, but I couldn't let this pass:
lacks any memorable characters.
How could anybody EVER forget the Harry the Mailman? Maybe the best character in all of SF.

And as long as I'm in the habit of necroposting (Baylor is a bad influence on me, lol) I do think this book deserves more praise than it got here. One of my all time favs. I know at least one reader who doesn't normally read SF who started this casually and couldn't put it down until he finished it the next afternoon.

Also I'm surprised nobody mentioned the most interesting story about this book. Doing this from memory, but I think I've got it pretty much right:
This was published BEFORE Alvarez started talking about K/T and iridium. Coincidentally, Niven and Pournelle were in the audience at the AAAS meeting when Alvarez gave one of his first talks on the subject. I don't know if A had met N or P previously, or if he was a fan (a lot of scientists are) and recognised one or both from a photo. But anyway, he saw them, recogised them, and began his talk with "The dinosaurs were killed by Lucifer's Hammer."

I don't know how they reacted, but if it were me, that kind of recognition would have thrilled me more than a Hugo, Nebula, and Prometheus combined.
 

BAYLOR

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I read this one way back when. Epic disaster novel and a fantastic read. I would love to see this one made into a miniseries . (y)
 

Timba

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OK, I know this thread is over 2 years dead, but I couldn't let this pass:How could anybody EVER forget the Harry the Mailman? Maybe the best character in all of SF.

I always thought the movie The Postman was built on Harry the Mailman although a pale job imo.
 

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