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Lucifer's Hammer

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Niven and Pourelle's great characterizations make this a wonderfully compelling read, and one that is hard to put down. The cannibals learn to fear the survivors because he knows how to make mustard gas and thermite bombs. By using the Web site, you confirm that you have read, understood, and agreed to be bound by the Terms and Conditions. Panic begins to tighten its grip on the world as a zealous fundamentalist preacher whips the US into a religious frenzy suggesting that the comet is a punishment from God visited upon a wicked humanity.

The novel is Crichton-nesque in its foundation in real science and level of detail; they carefully build the story and it teaches you a lot about comets/meteors and the havoc they can cause. The middle part (where the comet hits and the characters struggle to make it through the first few days) is probably the best put-together, but even the first third, where we meet all the characters and go through the build-up worked. Pournelle has always been something of a provocateur and he had a grand time with this one (I need to include Niven here as well), but it gets in the way.Like if you could just imagine that the characters in the band of cannibals are of all races, then the book immediately becomes top tier. With a memorable band of characters, a doomsday clock ticks down along with the explanation of the odds of the comet hitting the earth and shows these odds increasing at a steady, terrifying rate.

The Hammer does fall, having broken up into several smaller comets that land around the world with devastating results, striking parts of Europe, Africa, the Gulf of Mexico, and both the Pacific and Atlantic.I read this in 1982 and I vividly remember reading the comparison of the shape of the comet to an ice-cream cone. 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. It got a bit tedious - and quite sexist (repeated mentions of man's 'natural instinct' to 'protect the female' coming out, and how 'women's lib' is now defunct), with a few dashes of racism. As far as they are concerned, Arthur Jellison (former US Senator and leader of the effort to organize and rebuild) is their leader.

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