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When Worlds Collide

(When Worlds Collide #1)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  2,086 ratings  ·  172 reviews
A runaway planet hurtles toward the earth. As it draws near, massive tidal waves, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions wrack our planet, devastating continents, drowning cities, and wiping out millions. In central North America, a team of scientists race to build a spacecraft powerful enough to escape the doomed earth. Their greatest threat, they soon discover, comes not fr ...more
Paperback, 382 pages
Published October 1st 1999 by Bison Books (first published September 1st 1932)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  2,086 ratings  ·  172 reviews

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Mike (the Paladin)
Nov 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Matt Tandy
Apr 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Inspiration for countless disaster epics, most notably Deep Impact and 2012, When Worlds Collide is fun, though somewhat dated, novel. Holding up relatively well, the book is a bit jarring with the racism, sexism and extremely melodramatic dialogue.

The story is simple enough as a group of scientists attempt to flee Earth and land the incoming moon that will take the place of Earths orbit. While the science in this scenario is laughable, it's still an interesting concept, as are the philosophica
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
Aug 14, 2017 rated it liked it
What an amazing amount of prediction for a book written in the 1930s!
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
Imagine an apocalyptic novel written by a combination of Barbara Cartland, Jules Verne and Arthur C. Clarke and that about sums up this book.
Originally published in 1932, the science seems almost laughable in places (although I'm no scientist - so perhaps I shouldn't judge). There is also a peculiar romantic element, which is soooo chauvinistic it made me want to throw up!
I did finish the book though and that was because there were a few sections which showed imagination and descriptive skill -
A.J. Newman
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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.
Sean O'Hara
Ah, 1930s SF. The men are cardboard, the foreigners stereotypes, and women are introduced as being incredibly intelligent but never do anything beyond existing as potential babymakers.
Scott Rhee
Jun 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Sci-Fi & Scary
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Matthew Hunter
Not surprisingly, as a book written during a time marked by "yellow peril" propaganda, saber rattling toward the second world war, and the rise of various ideological "isms" deemed existential threats to the American way of life, When Worlds Collide wears its political incorrectness proudly. Today, calling a favored Japanese-American valet your "Jap servant" would be more than a little frowned upon. And how about this patronizing peach about Eve Hendron: "[Tony's] senses were swept by intimate t ...more
Rafeeq O.
Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer's 1932 When Worlds Collide is billed on the cover of my 1968 Paperback Library edition as "The classic novel that ranks with 1984 and Brave New World." Definitely not. It is, though, tolerable science fiction of 2.5- to 3-star variety, memorable more as an artifact of early 1930s science fiction than as a deftly written or thought-provoking piece of literature.

Mind you, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World was published the same year as Wylie and Balmer's novel,
May 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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
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
Laura Leilani
Feb 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Really wanted to live

I really wanted to like this book. It surely must have been the greatest sci fi book ever written in its time. Unfortunately it is rather dated; people's attitudes toward marriage and sex and people's respect of each other and duty to the greater good. These days no one would care about having to breed with random people to make the best children. They would not work 12 hour days on a ship they may not be able to escape on. Modern people's lack of morals, lack of a sense of
Apr 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 22, 2017 rated it liked it
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
Mona Ammon
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
TITLE: When Worlds Collide
WHY I CHOSE THIS BOOK: Recommended by a colleague; also fits in reading challenge connected by genre - scifi
REVIEW: This was written in 1932 and it shows. The references to one characters Jap man servant were offensive enough - that character was barely mentioed or seen. But the pervasive antiquated and masked misogynistic attitude toward women were hard to swallow. The men do the heavy lifting both physically and mentally. The women are there to comfort, support and ca
Dec 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Feb 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, sci-fi
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.
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.
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! ...more
Jul 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
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!
Feb 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone
about when earth is about to collide with a runaway planet and a plan to build a rocket so a small group of people can escape to a planet which circles the planet about to collide with earth
Tom Rowe
Apr 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Good book. Not great. Maybe a better movie. No verbs in this review.
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SciFiBN: February 2021: When Worlds Collide by Wylie and Balmer 1 1 Oct 09, 2020 01:55PM  
adding information to book cover that has no information 1 1 Aug 19, 2020 08:10PM  
When Worlds Collide 2 10 Aug 09, 2013 01:39AM  

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Born in Beverly, Massachusetts, Philip Gordon Wylie 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" tr ...more

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When Worlds Collide (3 books)
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