Surviving the Aftermath of Lucifer’s Hammer

lucifer's hammer book review

It’s dated but I enjoyed the apocalyptic Lucifer’s Hammer. As the Hamner-Brown comet approaches Earth, politicians, criminals, journalists, and scientists deal with the anticipation of its passing and possible impact. That uncertainty is main stumbling point that dates the book 30 years after its publication.

It’s disconcerting to have part of the plot be reliant on the uncertainty of a big, bright comet hitting Earth. Today we enough space observation and computing power to calculate an object’s orbit. We are even tracking the orbit of near-miss asteroids for decades in the future to determine whether they will hit or miss. Then, while reading the book, a massive meteor hits Russia. So maybe…

One science aspect that does resonate is the perspective of the astronauts. They are trapped in the period between the end of the Apollo program and the start of the space shuttle program. They don’t have a ride into space, much like the astronauts of 2013.

Where the book succeeds in overcoming its 1980s roots is the sage of the survivors in Southern California. Everyone is clawing for survival and a few are thinking about how to rebuild civilization.