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When Worlds Collide (When Worlds Collide #1)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  1,644 Ratings  ·  120 Reviews
When Worlds Collide is a '33 sf novel cowritten by Philip Wylie & Edwin Balmer along with its '34 sequel After Worlds Collide. It was 1st published as a six-part monthly serial (9/32-2/33) in Blue Book magazine, illustrated by Joseph Franké.
When Worlds Collide had far-reaching influences on the sf genre. The themes of an approaching planet threatening the Earth, &
Hardcover, 344 pages
Published 1933 by J.B. Lippincott Company (first published January 1st 1932)
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Mike (the Paladin)
Dated but wonderful book. I have the book with When Worlds Collide and After Worlds Collide both in it though it's simply called When Worlds Collide. As noted this book is very dated, was written long ago and has some pretty un-PC parts, but it's a good story and shouldn't be missed.

You will definitely spot the time lag here when you start to deal with science in the book but it doesn't take away from the experience. As a matter of fact you might find it interesting. The world of science fiction
Jun 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To look at the astronomical statistics, you would think that planet Earth is a sitting duck. In our teensy immediate neighborhood of the galaxy alone, there are over 14,000 asteroids zipping about, not to mention over 100 near-Earth comets. Asteroids of over one kilometer in diameter have hit the Earth, it is approximated, twice every million years during the planet's history; those of five kilometers, every 20 million years. Every 2,000 years, it has been said, a chunk of space matter collides ...more
What an amazing amount of prediction for a book written in the 1930s!
Amy Sturgis
This is justifiably known as a classic of apocalyptic science fiction. It's an absorbing read. Two planets, pulled from their orbits, are hurtling toward Earth. One will make a disastrously close pass, and the second will impact our planet directly. With almost journalistic objectivity, the novel relates the global efforts by humanity to cheat certain death, and in particular the quest in the United States (with both American and international personnel) to shift a small number of people to one ...more
The wonderful movie of the same name is based on this novel which caused me to seek out the book. I read the duology published in the 30's. It is the story of building an arc to save a few humans and animals after the collision with Earth by a rogue planet on collision course. I was surprised by the accuracy of the science, even compared to today's standards. Of course they had to get to the new planet without computers or other modern technological advances. An space travel is told from a 30's ...more
Scott Rhee
So, rogue planets are a real thing. I just thought it was a cool---albeit ridiculous---idea conjured up by clever science fiction writers, but, apparently, our solar system is full of orbital planetary bodies that have never latched on to a star like the nine planets in our system (well, okay, eight, depending on whom you ask, although I’m still holding out hope that Pluto will put on some more weight and be re-classified as a planet) and are simply floating around out there in a galactic orbit, ...more
Lilyn G. (Scifi and Scary)
When Worlds Collide is a book that delighted me on basically every level. It completely caught me up and swept me away. Once I was immersed within it, the world that has developed since the 30s ceased to exist. A delightful surprise. I wasn’t expecting much going into this. I’ve just come off reading an H.G. Wells novel that was a mire to wade through at times (In the Days of the Comet). I was kind of expecting antiquated language and ridiculous execution. Wylie and Balmer defied my expectations ...more
A.J. Newman
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this, the first time when I was a youngster. I read it again in 2016 and found it to be just as great 50 years later.
May 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
All those other apocalyptic books with their puny viruses and piddling nuclear wars have nothing on When Worlds Collide, which is about the smashing of Earth itself into jagged little pieces.

Or it would be -- if physics respected the three-act structure.

The book begins with the man who is carrying the fate of Mankind in his briefcase: photographic plates of two large planetary objects -- one about the size of Neptune, one Earth-sized -- that are on a collision course with the third planet in our
Sharon Powers
May 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Well, you can see I gave this book 5 stars. I know, I know. It's an old book, not a "hot off the presses" book. Not a New York Times best seller. But I really loved it. I've also recently learned that Hollywood is about to turn this book into a major motion picture. And...I can hardly wait.

Now, to the book: First, it is 642 pages, so not a small book. It was written by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer. It is the second of three books I have read by the writing team.

SHORT SYNOPSIS: It is discovered
Sep 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first time I remember hearing the name Philip Wylie was when the University of Nebraska put out this wonderful edition of When Worlds Collide (which also contains its sequel, After Worlds Collide). The plot of the book is no doubt well-known by now. Earth finds itself in the path of two rogue planets, one of them on a collision course with Earth. Some scientists believe the other planet might just be hospitable enough to allow human habitation, the problem being how to get from here to there ...more
Jan 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-series
This short novel is full of win!

First off, it is a grand adventure story, with all the elements you would expect - travel, landscapes, interactions with people. Next, it's a disaster story like no other - real end-of-the-world stuff. Lastly, it's science fiction - describing manned flight off-planet, weightlessness, and the rigors of take-off and landing. All of this written before 1932!

Yes, some of the science we know today is missing. Miniaturization, computers, radio communication through spa
Apr 05, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written in the years immediately preceding World War II, this book and its sequel "After Worlds Collide" tell a gripping tale about the end of our planet and mankind's survival (by creating "arks" capable of jumping to another planet).

These books reminded me of Jules Verne's work in a way, probably because of the fantastic detail of the preparations, the events themselves, and the way the politics of the day affected the story line.

Remember, mankind had no rockets in 1933, certainly none capable
Dec 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 1/2 stars rounded up. This is a classic - perhaps the first apocalyptical comet-asteroid-planet hits the earth saga. Not much is written about this example of the genre: It is omitted from many "best of" lists. I suspect this is largely due to several factors like the antiquated views of its authors.

Where do I begin? Endemic racism, sexism, classism, and disdain for anyone who is not wealthy or successful, informs the writing.

Also, the science in the science fiction is at times laughable. Th
Witten in the early 1930s, When Worlds Collide tells the story of what happens when two planets that have been set free from their own star "some millions of years ago" make their way into our solar system with first a close pass, then a direct collision course with Earth. Seems as if it's intended as a religious parable (even down to the female lead being named Eve), or at the very least, yet another indictment of man's inhumanity to man and his planet.
Feb 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, 2016
This book was so much better than I expected. It wasn't overly deep, but it was exceedingly well paced. It opens with energy and manages to carry it without. There were a few scientific discrepancies, but that's just because it was written in 1933, and they were very easily overlooked.

The story was engaging without being overly heavy. It was a relaxing yet quality read.
I very much so look forward to reading After Worlds Collide.
May 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, 2011
I can see why this book is so popular. The ideas presented are astounding and for its time and they're pretty interesting too, even now-a-days. I can imagine what people must of wondered about after reading this book back in the 30's. Very well written and I'm recommending it to every sci-fi fan I know. True classic!
Erik Graff
Aug 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sf fans
Recommended to Erik by: C. G. Jung liked Wylie
Shelves: sf
Dated, but I liked it so much that I went out immediately to purchase and read its sequel, After World Collide. Both were read at grandmother's cottage in Lake Charter Township, Michigan.

A movie version of this volume was made in the fifties in color. It also holds up rather well. The most recent remake appears to be 2012--one of the worst disaster movies ever made.
Jul 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book I read outside of books required for school. I have the hard cover which I probably read in the early 50's. It has no date which it was printed. Copyright, 1932, 1933 by Edwin Balmer and Philip Wylie.
Tom Rowe
Good book. Not great. Maybe a better movie. No verbs in this review.
Donald Kirch
Apr 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic adventure. This is the Queen-Mother of all disaster stories. It made a great movie too!
Great book, ideas ahead of its time!
Isaac Benge
Jun 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good! That is the 'original' science fiction!
Meg McGregor
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely riveting! Intensely written; it sucks you right into the drama of the world being completely destroyed by an enormous planet, careening through space, on a collision course, with our earth!

The main characters are truly noble, courageous, and kind; yet flawed like we all are, with frailities and jealousies. But these sadder traits are pushed aside as mankind endeavors a way off the planet and onto the smaller planet that will take its place in an orbit around the sun.

I have to say the
Patrick Justo
Nov 10, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
one complaint people make about the Golden Age of Science Fiction from the 1930s to the 1950s, is that too many of its authors were flirting dangerously with techno fascism. They seem to truly believe that scientists were better people than the average, and therefore should naturally lead civilization.

And that Spirit lives on today in the tech Bros of Silicon Valley.

Anyway, this book pretty much set the tone for the Techno fascism of the Golden Age period. as two planets headed towards the Earth
Jul 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is dated but fun. By "dated" I don't mean the science, which veers between inaccurate and glossed over, but is convincingly told: suspension of disbelief holds up. Rather, I mean that the book reflects commonplace social attitudes of the early 1930s about the relative abilities and characteristics of men and women, with an uncomfortable characterization of an Asian valet.

So a few interesting tidbits: in summarizing world reaction to the news, Mussolini gets name checked, but Germany has no
Jeff Correll
I was hugely disappointed by this book. The writing is incredibly dry and lifeless. There are huge amounts a action that take place off the page that we only discover when a character gathers everyone together and reads through 5 diaries (not that we the readers get to hear from all 5). So many opportunities for what would seem great action are just never "shown" to the reader. Big disappointment.
Dec 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I probably should have written this review three weeks ago when I actually finished this When Worlds Collide/After Worlds Collide omnibus. But I went on to see how influential the Worlds Collide series actually was, and I've only just managed to escape.

The summary of my findings is… oh God, I don't remember. I ended up somewhere between an Eldritch Abomination and a face full of alien wing-wong and completely lost track of whatever I read at the start. Oh well, I'll just blag it and
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An apocalyptic novel written in the 1930's. Two planets, one massive and the other Earth-size, arrive in the solar system after traveling deep space for millions of years. The large one will impact the Earth ending life as we know it, so efforts are made to send a small number of people to the smaller planet hoping to avoid extinction.

Good characters, sad story showing good and bad human behavior before the end. Enjoyed it, look forward to reading the sequel.
Joseph Carrabis
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book to read when you want to be enthralled, entertained, have your heart wrenched out by what humans will do to each other in times of crisis, have your heart rejoice at what humans will sacrifice for each other, and definitely to see how science puts hard edges on hopes, dreams and desires. Think of it as a novel length version of "The Cold Equations".
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When Worlds Collide 2 10 Aug 09, 2013 01:39AM  
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Born in Beverly, Massachusetts, he was the son of Presbyterian minister Edmund Melville Wylie and the former Edna Edwards, a novelist, who died when Philip was five years old. His family moved to Montclair, New Jersey and he later attended Princeton University from 1920–1923. He married Sally Ondek, and had one child, Karen, an author who became the inventor of animal "clicker" training. After a d ...more
More about Philip Wylie...

Other Books in the Series

When Worlds Collide (3 books)
  • After Worlds Collide (When Worlds Collide, #2)
  • The Terrans of Beta (Worlds Collide, #3)