68k Mentat

Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

Rating: not my usual book, but surprisingly good


An amateur scientist discovers a new comet; a TV executive produces a series of TV documentaries about it; scientists insist that it won’t hit the earth, but most people partially believe the end of the world. The second part of the book follows the various groups as they escape L.A. over the mountains and into a safe zone. A mutinous army that resorts to cannibalism teams up with an apocalyptic cult, and they sweep across California terrorizing the other survivors. The book ends with a battle between the Stronghold and the Army.


There are some lipservices to racism and anti-soviet sentiments, but this book is mostly about white L.A.ers dealing with the anarchic terror of a world cataclysm. More “the survival of humanity” than “the politics of humanity”.


One woman is a soviet doctor, no gender stereotypes but she is a very minor character. One woman is the daughter of the Stronghold’s king, and finds herself a princess who is stuck between three suitors. One character is a murderer and rapist, we see him stalking a woman until he finally rapes and mutilates her on the day before the comet. It was a valueless subplot, I think it was intended to “demonstrate society’s breakdown” as well as be a foil for another character who could have had his own character development without this plot.