May 8, 2006

Lucifer's Hammer

I picked up Lucifer's Hammer before flying out to Shanghai because I knew I would need a book to read on the two flights and maybe sometimes while I was at my dad's apartment. I figured it might be pretty good based on its sales record and having Larry Niven as one of the authors. While it was a page turner, I think it was more of a mainstream scientific thriller than a science-fiction book. A lot of Niven's characteristic hard science was gone, and instead the story is more drama laced with science.

In some ways, this is your typical natural disaster story. The kind you'd see dozens of times in the movies and maybe read about too. However, one thing going for this specific book is the scope of that disaster. Several dozen meteorite strikes of significant size across a large percentage of the Earth's surface means global disaster. Lucifer's Hammer focuses on what happens in Los Angeles and parts of the SF Bay Area.

Two things I found interesting about the story were its cold war influence and period environment. The book was written in 1977, when the cold war was still a news topic and American culture and social order was very different from today. So part of me found reading this book now to be anachronistic, but once I accepted things for how they were presented that problem went away.

I think I would have enjoyed this story more if there was a greater focus on the hard science. Although I'm not really sure how you can do that when you're exploring a known environment. At which point the focus sort of has to be on character and humanity.

Posted by josuah at May 8, 2006 8:13 PM UTC+00:00

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