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Lucifer's Hammer

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  33,519 Ratings  ·  1,072 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 ...more
Mass Market Paperback, #20813-3, 640 pages
Published July 12th 1977 by Fawcett Crest (first published 1977)
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Ender's Game by Orson Scott CardDune by Frank Herbert1984 by George OrwellFahrenheit 451 by Ray BradburyBrave New World by Aldous Huxley
Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books
100th out of 5,658 books — 18,833 voters
The Stand by Stephen KingThe Road by Cormac McCarthyThe Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsWorld War Z by Max Brooks1984 by George Orwell
Best Post-Apocalyptic Fiction
21st out of 876 books — 2,830 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Feb 01, 2015 Carol. rated it liked it
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
Althea Ann
Jun 28, 2016 Althea Ann rated it did not like it
Stop! Hammertime!

The Hammer disregards all pleas not to 'hurt 'em.'
Please, Hammer! Don't hurt 'em!


There should be a name for the particular type of book that is exemplified by some popular novels published between the late 1950s and the early 1980s. It's very distinctive, but hard to describe. Some characteristics include: an insistence on referring to men by their last names only, flat characterization which tends to adhere to sterotypical gender roles, a focus on jobs/career as being a key part of identity, and a predominance of lovele
Nov 21, 2014 David rated it liked it  ·  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
Jan 06, 2016 Brad rated it really liked it
I just knocked this one off my top one-hundred novels of all time, but I did it with a heavy heart.

Memories of a novel sometimes simply don't live up to a re-read.

On the other hand, there are quite a few things about it that are still freaking fantastic, such as the science and the emotional impact of the comet strike. Most of the first third of the novel focused on the 70's modern society, with all the strange views common of that time, but that wasn't the most striking feature. I was humbled b
Henry Avila
Nov 15, 2013 Henry Avila rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Joe Valdez
Feb 20, 2015 Joe Valdez rated it really liked it
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
Donna Crupi
May 01, 2013 Donna Crupi rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 21, 2015 Kat Hooper rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
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
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
Michelle Morrell
Lucifer's Hammer isn't just a book about a comet. Lucifer's Hammer is a full-on 1970s disaster film, full of polyester flared slacks and unfortunate hair. All the peril and pathos of an epic apocalyptic masterpiece, set around the Hollywood normal lives of strangely familiar characters dramatically ripped asunder and the epic levels they go to for survival. It's a big book in more than page numbers.

What I liked:

It's smart. There is a lot of science peppered throughout, real facts and knowledge w
Sarah Anne
Yep, still a five star read for me. It's everything a post-apocalyptic book should be, including very realistic. I've been reading this book for 25 years and I've probably read it 20 times and I'll read it 20 more. "We control the lightning!"

David Sarkies
Aug 10, 2015 David Sarkies rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like hard sci-fi
Recommended to David by: Came with a Larry Niven collection
Shelves: sci-fi
A disaster and post-apocalyptic novel rolled into one
10 August 2015

Well I am finally back from my trip after finally finishing this monster of a book 20 minutes before my plane touched down at Melbourne Airport (and what a horrid flight it was: I really should have put my carry on bag into the overhead locker - I so didn't need my laptop because I was too exhausted to do anything other than attempt to finish this book, despite the fact that the plane had to take the long way round due to a volc
Dec 05, 2012 Bandit rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Sarah Anne
Mar 22, 2016 Sarah Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, sci-fi, author-male
Towards the beginning of this book I knew I was going to give it five stars and I figured that one star would be for nostalgia. Then I realized that any book that keeps me going back over and over for nearly 25 years has damn well earned the full five stars. I just love this book. It's what made me fall in love with the post-apocalyptic sub-genre in the first place.

35% of the book takes place before the comet strike. One of the thing that always interests me is how very angry people get towards
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 ...more
Oct 23, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi, 2fiction, 1paper
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.
Jun 06, 2009 Kathi rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 24, 2009 Jenn rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Not the book I remember reading in college. Of course that was twenty-five years ago. Times and attitudes change. What was a thrilling page turner is now a cliched and overblown melodrama. What happened?

Sterotypes, cliches, overwrought writing, and some real interesting ideas about race, men and women. Not to mention a pretty negative view on Human nature in general. Talk about dark. And I've been a cop for the past ten years! Not everyone is that horrible or that quick to give into savagery. Y
Aug 22, 2016 Olivia rated it really liked it
Lucifer's Hammer is a reluctant four stars, don't run out and buy the book just based on that rating. It's without any doubt a very engaging read and once things get going I thought it was a captivating, dark, gritty and realistic read.
A list of things that make this a reluctant four stars:
- Written in 1977, there's racial stereotypes and gender stereotypes that might rub some people the wrong way.
- The first half of the book is exposition and we meet an endless cast of characters and maybe it w
carlos benjamin
Apr 10, 2013 carlos benjamin rated it it was amazing
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
Erik Graff
Nov 07, 2011 Erik Graff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone wanting a gripping read
Recommended to Erik by: Michael Miley
Shelves: sf
If you are comfortable with global disaster, worldwide famine and barbarism, this is one fun read. I was turned on to it by an unlikely source. Michael Miley, usually an exponent of Buddhistic detachment, philosophical musing and yogic discipline, brought this piece of popular trash up to Michigan one weekend and, finishing it, handed the book over to me with a strong recommendation.

What Michael liked particularly, as I recall, was the bit about the surfer who catches the tsunami off the coast o
Molly Ison
Dec 02, 2013 Molly Ison rated it did not like it
Too much soap, not enough space.

Alternative title: Desperate Housewives of Armageddon.
Feb 22, 2011 Lee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Aug 01, 2008 Jamie rated it really liked it
As far as ZOMG TEH WORLD IS ENDING! books go, this one by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle was really pretty good. The idea is that about the time humans and chimps were striking out on their own separate branches on the evolutionary tree, some dark planet out past Pluto slingshots a comet towards us. A bunch of time passes, and then in the late 1970s the dark planet proves to be one hell of a shot because the comet (dubbed "The Hammer" by the increasingly nervous onlookers) pummels the ever ...more
Jan 05, 2016 Denis rated it liked it
Shelves: do-not-own
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
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
Stephen Gallup
May 18, 2009 Stephen Gallup rated it liked it
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
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
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Mic Breaks Only: Hammer: Fin! (Full Book Discussion) 3 9 Jan 27, 2014 04:50AM  
Mic Breaks Only: Hammer: Hammertime: Parts 2 & 3 3 6 Jan 15, 2014 07:54AM  
Mic Breaks Only: Hammer: No Worries: Part 1 3 6 Jan 07, 2014 12:36AM  
  • Eternity Road
  • The Postman
  • The Forge of God (Forge of God, #1)
  • Warday
  • The Rift
  • Emergence
  • A Wrinkle in the Skin
  • Wolf and Iron
  • Earth Abides
  • Farnham's Freehold
  • A Gift Upon the Shore
  • Alas, Babylon
  • When Worlds Collide (When Worlds Collide, #1)
  • Prince of Mercenaries (Falkenberg's Legion #2)
  • Malevil
  • Star Man's Son, 2250 A.D
  • The Last Ship
  • Aftermath (Supernova Alpha, #1)
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...

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