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Lucifer's Hammer

Narrated by: Marc Vietor
Length: 24 hrs and 32 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (30 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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. Cities were turned into oceans; oceans turned into steam. It was the beginning of a new Ice Age and the end of civilization.

But for the terrified men and women chance had saved, it was also the dawn of a new struggle for survival - a struggle more dangerous and challenging than any they had ever known....

©1985 Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

What the critics say

"Take your earthquakes, waterlogged condominiums, swarms of bugs, colliding airplanes, and flaming what-nots, wrap them up and they wouldn't match one page of Lucifer's Hammer for sweaty-palmed suspense." ( Chicago Daily News)
"Massively entertaining." ( Cleveland Plain-Dealer)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

MUST LISTEN. IRead this many years ago, still A+!

"I will be dipped in sh__t!"
This is a saying I picked up many years ago, and use to this day, but couldn't remember where I read or heard it. Until I picked up the audiobook of one of my favorite, favorite "end of the world" books. And there, it was. Sweet. So familiar, yet lost for so long.
I bought this book when it first came out in paperback in the 70s, and somewhere it is still in my boxes of absolute favorite books EVER, packed away, waiting for an apocalypse for me to discover it again. I knew it would be dated, with things like "pocket calculators", landline phones, Soviet Union and Soyuz, anyone remember those except me? But still it would be the classic it is.
One of the vignettes I have remembered all those many years, was the guy on the surfboard. That has been seared into my mind's eye all these decades- I won't spoil it for anyone by going further, but it remains as startling today as it was when I first read the book.
What has always stuck with me, was the ingenuity of the survivors and how they were going to make a survivor's world after a comet strike. The authors know their stuff. You can make Beef Jerky following this story, and more. It's a brilliant piece of writing, and the authors did their homework, and had a good grasp of both science, and survival. I remember thinking to myself--"I could live in their world, I have good skills and the will to survive". Now, I'd be the eccentric but intelligent doc/nurse who'd figure out how to use herbs and folk medicines in a world that has no more medicine, and doesn't waste a whole book just breaking into big box stores to look for Tylenol. That was probably what I disliked the most about the last post apocalyptic series I read--the people didn't learn anything, didn't go to libraries to look things up, didn't do much except be happy they survived a killer virus and aliens. There was no new technology, no one knew how to "Do" anything. This book if I recollect rightly, tells us these survivors DO. They organize, they find a place with an Artesian well and set about rebuilding a much smaller world.
If I get to the end and it turns out I've remembered wrong, I'll come back and make it right.
The narrator does a very good job, he isn't the best I've heard, but he isn't the worst either. I really don't expect narrators to sound like women when they are men, though some do a really admirable job of it. So happy to have this classic in my collection!
If you are visually impaired--this story is just as good a listen, as it was when I read it in print. <3 You are able to envision so much, listening to this book. The visual descriptions are very good. I really hope people enjoy it.
Thank you Audible, for giving me back my first love, books.
Audiobooks have brought "reading" back to me. <3 #Audible1

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

What a let-down.

I know this book is dated but that has nothing to do with my negative review. The characterization was okay and the story line fine... if it had taken place anywhere but in a post-apocalyptic setting. I mean, the horrifying result of a comet smashing into our little planet would be unending devastation; yet, what should have been the gut-wrenching ramifications of such an enormous catastrophe played second fiddle to the sometimes dull dramas between characters. In my humble opinion, the only element of Lucifer's Hammer that is not disappointing is Marc Vietor's narration.

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Awesome book and favourite prepare-type story

Read the book numerous times and now have to listen on my iPhone and in car in those long traffic-jams. Great story and worth every penny !!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Love the book, not so much this audiobook

#Audible1 I have read the book a few times, and do enjoy it. The End of the World as we know it, murdered by asteroid. Problem is, I barely got to the asteroid part, before giving up on the audio. The narrator just didn't grab my attention. I guess that's a good thing if I'm driving, but I got bored and switched to radio before the asteroid even made it to earth. I will give it another try someday I'm sure. But for now, I'm a bit disappointed.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • DJM
  • 2009-07-30

Good story from front to back

I read Lucifer's Hammer when it first came out, and couldn't resist ordering it in audio. The authors do a solid job of storytelling. The hardest part of any end of the world story is maintaining a worthwhile story for the aftermath. Destroying the world is easy. Making the aftermath both credible and engaging is harder. Niven and Pournelle create characters with enough depth that you can care about them and they place them in credible and interesting situations. The narration is solid. As one reviewer noted, there are a lot of characters. In print, Niven and Pournelle provide a "program" at the front of their books so you can easily refer back and identify characters in the early going until you have them straight. That is missing here (it would be meaningless to read aloud.) Still, it doesn't take that long to place all the characters and the book is well paced.

It's an enjoyable listen that I'll return to from time to time. Worth the credit.

86 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • J. Noonan
  • 2010-03-16

Very enjoyable

This was an entertaining audiobook, with a few key drawbacks that keep it from being 5 stars. First, as noted by many other reviewers, the narrator's female voices are pretty bad. They all come out sounding Southern. But I thought his male voices were well-distinguished, and the straight narration was good as well.

Secondly, the pacing of the story itself is a little strange. The entire first third is character introduction and buildup to the comet strike, then the second third is the strike and immediate aftermath, and the final section is the extended aftermath, including a kind of quick action climax that seems out of place compared to the general tone of suspense in the rest of the book. I felt the third part was rushed, while the first was too drawn out. That said, the writing is excellent throughout, and the various storylines intertwine in some unexpected ways. I put it in the same category as a fun summer action movie that turned out to be better than you expected.

27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • A book reader
  • 2009-08-26

Very solid book

Yes, it's a bit dated, but it's also the first book of the comet/asteroid as the end of the world genre. In that sense it's groundbreaking and definitely worth reading.

Some people may have difficulty with the first several hours up until right before the comet makes landfall. Yes, the book jumps around, but there are lots of characters to weave into the narrative. And believe me, the payoff is worth it.

35 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jeff G.
  • 2009-11-28

Great listening

I read this book twenty years ago, and it's always been one of my favorite "Apocalyptic" novels. I was so happy to see it released as an audiobook.
While some novels of this ilk don't stand up to the "technology test of time" -- written before the proliferation of cell phones and computers -- this one does, for the most part.
Niven and Pourelle's great characterizations make this a wonderfully compelling read, and one that is hard to put down. However, there are a LOT of characters, so it may help to go to a website that allows you to "look inside the book," and print out the beginning pages that list the "Dramatis Personae." Easier to jog your memory on a long listen like this one.

38 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Ian
  • 2012-02-26

Half Decent

This is really a book of two halves. The first half, in which our rogue asteroid is treated as a character, given a backstory and such, details the oh-so-slow-and-boring approach of armageddon. It's not tense, it's not sweaty-palm inducing, it's just dull. Mostly uninteresting characters do mostly uninteresting things as scientist endlessly debate how close this big chunk of doom will miss earth by. Now, forgive me for nit-picking, but I really don't see the point of devoting endless pages to characters repeatedly insisting the event the book is written around isn't going to happen. I know it's going to hit; that's why I bought the story. By all means, spend a little time on such things but anything more is flogging a dead horse.

And when the comet does, finally, touch down, the book improves. The mechanics of destruction, the effect of Lucifers Hammer on the Earth are particularly well done and suitably 'wow' in their description, as are the cascade of events that follow such a massive event.

But then the book just becomes a fairly generic post-apocalyptic tale. Looting, pillaging, rape, murder, gangs, some trying to get the world back up and running and some trying to burn the last few bits of civilisation left standing. It all feels very familiar and contains, with few exceptions, very little that strays off the well worn path of post apocalyptic fiction.

The benchmarks in this genre for me are The Stand, Alas Babylon and Swan Song, two of which thread the generic end of the world story with the supernatural and are much better for it and the other, Alas Babylon, is just a better written, more interesting and more immersive tale. Lucifer's Hammer is just a bit too 'The A to Z of The Apocalypse' to warrant much of a recommendation.

The narration is good, though sometimes the narrator lacks the ability to make voices easily distinguishable, but that's a minor gripe. It's just a ho-hum story.

20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Bob
  • 2010-01-21

Loved it!

This isn't your typical apocalyptic story. It starts out great but should have spent more time on the impact itself. It reads like 2 separate books and goes on and on. I did enjoy it but found the last 1/4 was a bit much. The story line was fine and "believable" for what happened. Regardless of all that, I'd buy it again in a minute!

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • QUAZIMODO
  • 2019-03-06

Really Dated

I guess that is the problem when you go and read books released decades ago. the story overall is not bad. i didn't know Larry Niven wrote this book. I remember seeing my dad read this book when I was child.
He didn't say if it good or bad .
Well I will tell you. It is an ok read. Don't expect any masterpiece or earthshaking ( except what the comet causes) revelations (except what the profit tells you).
The end just kind of drops off. the characters under developed. The overall writing is unenthusiastic. it does not really draw in the reader.
I have not read any of the RingWorld Saga so did not know what to expect.
What I did not expect is to read other reviews. Of which was the one at the top of the list. This was a scathing review mostly regarding her personal feelings. Don't listen to ignorant people when they get on their soapbox and spout ignorance. read the book and make your own decisions.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 2018-05-15

Too long!

While I enjoy this genre this audible book is too long by two thirds. The story could have been condensed to 6-8 hours or less and you would still get the meat of the book.
This is one of those cases where the authors fell in love with their prose and and rambled extensively, creating to much depth to ancillary characters

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Igor Zusev
  • 2018-02-15

Meh

Semi standard book. I wish I had spent my money elsewhere. I won’t recommend this at all. So slow and fragmented. I wasn’t even sure what this book was really about till chapter 4

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Todd Bradley
  • 2017-10-28

I read it 30 years ago, but couldn't stand it now

I was a huge fan of Larry Niven's work from the 70s and 80s. I read this book shortly after it came out in paperback about 30 years ago, and remember enjoying it. So I recently tried to listen to the audiobook version. I abandoned it, something I almost never do.

The problem wasn't the narrator, it was the story itself. It just doesn't stand the test of time. So much of the book is setup about the characters in their normal &quot;current day&quot; lives. Those might have sounded realistic in the 80s. But in 2017, they sound unrealistic and really, really boring. I cringed at the sexism of the character dynamics. I was just a teenager in the 80s, so maybe adults really did act this way to each other back then. But they don't today. It was enough to take me out of the moment and forget about the plot itself.

So, I'm giving this audiobook 3 stars. When I was 17, I would've given the book 5 stars. Now that I'm in 48, I give it 1 star. So 3 is a fair average.

3 people found this helpful