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Lucifer's Hammer

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  28,136 ratings  ·  901 reviews
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 stru ...more
Paperback, #20813-3, 640 pages
Published July 12th 1977 by Fawcett Crest (first published 1977)
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Best Post-Apocalyptic Fiction
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Community Reviews

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Feb 01, 2015 Carol. rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of the apocalypse

Full review (links and all) at because I am going to digress like you won't believe...

Good grief, reading hasn’t been such a chore since Professional Nursing Practice Foundations and Concepts. And in the fiction world, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. So perhaps you should take my review with a grain of salt, since plenty of people love Strange (unsurprisingly, no one admits to loving Practice Foundations). Niven and Pournelle start with a great idea, a
Nov 21, 2014 David rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Californians, cannibalistic televangelists, Bruce Willis,
There was a time when Larry Niven was one of my favorite authors. Of course, that time was when I was an immature SF geek who didn't read much else. Okay, I still think Ringworld was kind of awesome. And I have fond memories of some of his other collaborations with Jerry Pournelle, e.g. Footfall and Oath of Fealty. But the last few I have read really unearthed things I didn't notice when I was younger, and this one, which was one of their early collaborations, really shows its age.

Lucifer's Hamm
Henry Avila
In deep space.A little smudge appears,near Neptune.Amateur astronomer,Timothy Hammer.Millionaire playboy.He's rather a timid, philanderer. From a third generation, wealthy family.In Los Angeles. Tim, inherited a big soap company.Sees the object.Through his telescope.A very unimpressive thing.But it gets bigger.And the people ,will notice,soon enough.A lot,in fact.Become very scared... In his private observatory.Located on a mountain top, outside the city .After numberless lonely nights. Observin ...more
Joe Valdez
The next stop in my end-of-the-world reading marathon was Lucifier's Hammer, the 1977 disaster epic by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. Niven was an established, Nebula Award winning author in Los Angeles when in the early 1970s, he was approached by Pournelle, an engineer with a military background who lived in the area. Pournelle was looking for a partner to teach him how to write and inexplicably, the pair went on to co-author nine novels together.

After a dedication to Neil Armstrong and Buz
Lucifer’s Hammer falls into the “End of the World/Catastrophic Event/How Will the Human Race Survive” category, and it can be further broken down into those niche genres in SF which wipe California off the face of the map then discuss how Earth will survive.

Destruction of California aside, this was a really good book. Tim Hamner discovers a comet, which upon further investigation will be moving through Earths solar system in the immediate near future. Chances of it hitting are a million to one…n
Donna Crupi
My God I loved this book! Back in high school I thought I wasn't a reader. Then I had an English teacher, Andy Page who would suggest I read certain books. This was the first one he recommended.

I found out it wasn't that I didn't like to read. It was that I didn't like to read crappy books.

Lucifer's Hammer is the sci-fi book I use to measure all sci-fi books against. With a memorable band of characters, a doomsday clock ticks down along with the explanation of the odds of the comet hitting the

Kat  Hooper
3.5 audio Originally published at FanLit.

When bored millionaire Tim Hamner discovers a new comet, he’s excited to finally accomplish something without the help of his family. Harvey Randall, who’s producing a TV documentary about the comet, expects his show to be wildly popular. And the American and Russian astronauts who are chosen to study the comet are proud to be chosen for such an important international mission.

All the experts said there was no way t
In my quest to read classic post apocalyptic classics, I couldn't very well ignore the famous Lucifer's Hammer, although having read it, I now wish I did. Any book opening with a list of characters (and not being Shakespeare) should warn the reader of how difficult it'll be to keep those characters straight, which was definitely the case here. It might have been easier, had the characters been more likeable, but they were just a bit like stereotypes and not very relatable. The introductions took ...more
Like Armegeddon, the earth is the target, this time by a comet & it hits the earth. Excellent look at our civilization; how fragile, yet resilient. A must read. Well written & researched.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The eeriest part of the story of the dinosaurs is its sudden, abrupt, and once-mysterious ending. After nearly 200 million years of domination, the dinosaurs vanished in a startlingly moment. Although the source of this mass extinction was debated hotly for years, today a general consensus of scientists believes asteroid impact to have been the culprit. The force of the impact shockwave would have been disastrous by itself, vaporizing everything in a wide radius...but the widespread ecological d ...more
carlos benjamin
This book was written during and set in the late seventies. As such, there are aspects of it that are quite dated. Read it anyway. It doesn't matter.

You might think the book is about a comet hurtling toward earth, but it isn't. It's about people and how we respond to events. Will it hit? Some folks make preparations, certain that it will. Others, equally certain that it won't, make no preparations at all other than to do whatever they can to examine it closely as it passes by.

But you could have
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
It felt good to get a Niven fix, it has been awhile for me. This ranks as one of his most popular works (collaboration) and it has all the trademarks of an enjoyable story. It's hard to read a groundbreaking story and not judge it against all that came later. (I.e. disaster movies and such).

The comet was birthed at the Big Bang and made it's purposeless (?) journey through the vastness of space to one day cross our path. The destruction is almost complete, except for a few pockets scattered thr
I first read Lucifer's Hammer shortly after it was published (1978)and have read it several times--before the Internet, iPhones, iPads, DVDs and DVR and self check out lanes at the grocery store!! Taking that into consideration, exactly the same thing would happen today if the world was struck by a comet and its meteors, (some would argue that we now have the capability to "push" that comet" into another orbit.)

The characters are well developed, the description of the destruction all around the
Molly Ison
Too much soap, not enough space.

Alternative title: Desperate Housewives of Armageddon.
No Remorse
Oct 16, 2009 No Remorse rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to No Remorse by:
Shelves: shtf
Great book, very good story of what types of things can happen if a comet hit the earth. The things people have to deal with and overcome is a wake up call and really
makes you think. Makes you also think about the everyday basic necessities we have and take for granted. How far we have come in 100 years is really mind blowing.
This book is a real slow starter though, but i guess that's better than just jumping right into the action with no build up. I think this book had to many characters,
Jul 03, 2010 Bryan added it
Interesting plot that ultimately fails to impress: Having enjoyed books by Larry Niven in the past and after reading a number of positive reviews, I was fairly certain Lucifer's Hammer would be a page turner. Unfortunately I found it to be a tremendous disappointment. The book follows the stories of several characters before, during, and after a large comet causes major devastation to the Earth and its populace--roughly covering a two year time span.

There are several problems with the book, the
I try to make it a point to finish any book I start (a corollary of that being that I usually read one book at a time so I can't trick myself into not finishing a book while telling myself I've not given up on it, I'm just reading the other book more). The only two exceptions to this rule in the modern era of my reading that I can recall are Greg Bear's Eternity, which I thought read like unmitigated dross compared to its predecessor, and Niven and Pournelle's Footfall, which I started reading h ...more
Stephen Gallup
I must be hard to please these days, because I've tried to read several books of various types and can’t seem to stay with any of them. So I picked up Lucifer's Hammer, thinking a good apocalyptic yarn would at least fit my perception of what's going on in the world these days.

It isn't great literature, but then I didn't expect that. The first hundred pages or so are fairly tedious, what with the formulaic introductions of multiple characters who will presumably have important roles as the actio
Before there was Deep Impact, Armageddon, or the series on The Change by S. M. Stirling, there was Lucifer’s Hammer – Niven and Pournelle’s apocalyptic sci-fi novel about the Comet Hamner, and the disastrous results for humanity that ensue.

Although the racial and sexual politics Niven and Pournelle interweave into their narrative are a bit dated in 70s cultural norms, the detailed description of the flooding of the San Joaquin Valley – renamed a Sea – and the destruction of much of densely inhab
I read that book because some say it's similiar to The Stand. Lucifer's Hammer bears some resemblance to The Stand like apocalypse, following re-grouping and war between two groups.

But there are also considerable differences between these books. In my opinion Niven failed to form characters you'll remember because you liked them so much. The characters in this book were very pale and I did not even like them very much. There was nothing special about them. In comparison to that King really creat
Life after a comet strike is the premise of this apocalyptic tale, and on the whole, it’s well-told.

* Good mastery of space and astronomy
* Great attention to logistics in a realistic framework

* Character development is lagging
* Plot jumps in places where elaboration was warranted

It’s frustrating because you get psyched for a good peak in the story. Then...Well, I’m teetering on the verge of a spoiler.

Put it this way, I’m giving it a 4 for a very good reason. You won’t walk away dis
There many good elements in this novel. It was helpful, in fact, that I read it a couple of weeks before the Rosetta's Philae probe touched down - boing - boing - boing - grab... phew! - on the comet, 12th of November 2014. I better understood the point of the mission and what they might find there.

As with most Niven (& Pournelle) or any good sci-fi novels, there has to be more than the science, and they are adept at including solid, well developed plot lines that include the reactions of hu
Mike (the Paladin)
Recommended. A somewhat sobering tale of disaster and survival. Intresting situations those who have means deciding who they will help based on who can give what to their situation.

Review posted on my blog, The Next Fifty, at:
Doug Dosdall
I read this book as a teenager and remember loving it although I wonder if it would hold up to my memory?
As far as apocalyptic scenarios goes this book does it way better than the slew of books coming out on this subject now.

The premise really is's not so much that some apocalyptic event shows up but that the world knows it is coming with increasing certainty for like 3 months beforehand. That to me is the interesting part, the world starts to crumble well before anything happens jus
John Wiltshire
I tried to read this book many, many times. It's one of the original apocalyptic novels and as a huge fan of all such books I really felt I ought to read and like this one. But it's bone-achingly boring, so time and time again I've started it and failed.
However, the other day, desperately trying not to dip into my books for a trip home to the UK this Christmas, I clicked on this one on my Kindle and just started reading again. Fortunately, it was automatically saved at about 40%, presumably whe
I couldn't decide between three and four stars for this book. In the end, I decided on four simply because I enjoyed it, even though there were some odd plot/character issues that bothered me throughout the book. The story is dull dull dull for about the first 150 pages. Way too much time spent on character development, especially considering half the characters in those first 150 pages either cease to be part of the story for the remainder, or are simply part of the supporting cast. Many simply ...more
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  • Heart of the Comet
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Laurence van Cott Niven's best known work is Ringworld (Ringworld, #1) (1970), which received the Hugo, Locus, Ditmar, and Nebula awards. His work is primarily hard science fiction, using big science concepts and theoretical physics. The creation of thoroughly worked-out alien species, which are very different from humans both physically and mentally, is recognized as one of Niven's main strengths ...more
More about Larry Niven...
Ringworld (Ringworld, #1) The Mote in God's Eye (Moties, #1) The Ringworld Engineers (Ringworld, #2) Footfall Neutron Star (Known Space)

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