Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
Fawcett Crest Books, 640 pp.
It’s been 27 years since Lucifer’s Hammer was first published but after watching The Day After Tomorrow I felt the need to pull it out and re-read some classic destruction. I have to confess that I’m a disaster movie junkie; I fondly remember being six years old and watching Earthquake in the theater (with Sensurround!). As disaster films go, The Day After Tomorrow wasn’t too bad, a little unbelievable and it took a few too many liberties with the science but it was still a fun ride with a huge body count. Lucifer’s Hammer though is the mother of all disaster stories—nothing less then the end of the world. When a comet strike nearly destroys all life on Earth, the survivors have to battle Mother Nature and each other to stay alive. Top-notch science, wonderful characters, and lots and lots of conflict make this one of my all-time favorites. After an untold number of readings it can still give me nightmares. After nearly three decades, Niven and Pournelle can still claim the definitive disaster story on their resumés. I also think that their Footfall is the definitive alien invasion novel, but I’ll save that for another issue.