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"Entertaining. . .[Clark] handles both ideas and characters with deftness and wit; in short, the outstanding living science fiction writers is romping".-- "Chicago Sun-Times". In the year 2110 technology has cured most of our worries. But even as humankind enters a new golden age, an amateur astronomer points his telescope at just the right corner of the night sky and sees "Entertaining. . .[Clark] handles both ideas and characters with deftness and wit; in short, the outstanding living science fiction writers is romping".-- "Chicago Sun-Times". In the year 2110 technology has cured most of our worries. But even as humankind enters a new golden age, an amateur astronomer points his telescope at just the right corner of the night sky and sees disaster hurtling toward Earth: a chunk of rock that could annihilate civilization. While a few fanatics welcome the apocalyptic destruction as a sign from God, the greatest scientific minds of Earth desperately search for a way to avoid the inevitable. On board the starship Goliath Captain Robert Singh and his crew must race against time to redirect the meteor form its deadly collision course. Suddenly they find themselves on the most important mission in human history--a mission whose success may require the ultimate sacrifice. "Clarke is still at the top of his game".-- "The Detroit News". "As good as any anything he's written. . .for a hard-science-fiction treat, I suspect "The Hammer Of God" won't be topped".-- "Star Tribune", Minneapolis. "Classic Clarke. . .a good story".-- "The Denver Post".


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"Entertaining. . .[Clark] handles both ideas and characters with deftness and wit; in short, the outstanding living science fiction writers is romping".-- "Chicago Sun-Times". In the year 2110 technology has cured most of our worries. But even as humankind enters a new golden age, an amateur astronomer points his telescope at just the right corner of the night sky and sees "Entertaining. . .[Clark] handles both ideas and characters with deftness and wit; in short, the outstanding living science fiction writers is romping".-- "Chicago Sun-Times". In the year 2110 technology has cured most of our worries. But even as humankind enters a new golden age, an amateur astronomer points his telescope at just the right corner of the night sky and sees disaster hurtling toward Earth: a chunk of rock that could annihilate civilization. While a few fanatics welcome the apocalyptic destruction as a sign from God, the greatest scientific minds of Earth desperately search for a way to avoid the inevitable. On board the starship Goliath Captain Robert Singh and his crew must race against time to redirect the meteor form its deadly collision course. Suddenly they find themselves on the most important mission in human history--a mission whose success may require the ultimate sacrifice. "Clarke is still at the top of his game".-- "The Detroit News". "As good as any anything he's written. . .for a hard-science-fiction treat, I suspect "The Hammer Of God" won't be topped".-- "Star Tribune", Minneapolis. "Classic Clarke. . .a good story".-- "The Denver Post".

30 review for The Hammer of God

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

    Sir Arthur C. Clarke – one of the “BIG THREE” golden era hard science fiction writers, along with Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov – was still writing fresh and relevant, and scientifically exciting books in the 90s, almost 50 years after he began writing stories. The Hammer of God, first published in 1993 (following the publication of a short story setting out the essential framework of the idea) demonstrates Clarke’s far ranging scientific vision for the genre. While the idea that an asteroi Sir Arthur C. Clarke – one of the “BIG THREE” golden era hard science fiction writers, along with Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov – was still writing fresh and relevant, and scientifically exciting books in the 90s, almost 50 years after he began writing stories. The Hammer of God, first published in 1993 (following the publication of a short story setting out the essential framework of the idea) demonstrates Clarke’s far ranging scientific vision for the genre. While the idea that an asteroid or a comet could slam into the Earth and cause catastrophe had been explored before (Larry Niven’s Lucifer's Hammer had been published in 1977) Clarke developed the idea that a team of Earth’s scientists and engineers could do something about it. Set in the future, life on Earth had approached utopia with the advent of scientific and technological breakthroughs that solved most of our Childhood problems. But when astronomers discovered a relatively small asteroid – given the name Kali – that was on a destruction course for Earth, plans were set into motion to save our planet. Stephen Spielberg bought the film rights to this book and with some significant changes, that production led to the 1998 film Deep Impact. Coincidentally, or interesting depending on Hollywood insider standards, The Michael Bay film Armageddon also came out in 1998. Never content to just deal in the grand idea, Clarke also explores social, political and theological changes that have occurred in this future and how those settings further impact the plot. Characterization is an element of a Clarke novel that never seems to get sufficient lift off and this trend continues here, but on the flip side, Clarke has no problem jumping millennia, centuries or decades to connect the dots and that is fun too. Good reading.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Althea Ann

    Read for post-apocalyptic book club. Last month, we read "Lucifer's Hammer" (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...), so in keeping with the hammer/comet-impact theme, we decided to compare and contrast. (This one is FAR better.) When I was around 13, Arthur C. Clarke was my very favorite author. I read and re-read everything by him in the public library. However, by the time this book came out, in 1993, he'd kind of fallen off my radar. It wasn't so much that my tastes had changed as that my li Read for post-apocalyptic book club. Last month, we read "Lucifer's Hammer" (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...), so in keeping with the hammer/comet-impact theme, we decided to compare and contrast. (This one is FAR better.) When I was around 13, Arthur C. Clarke was my very favorite author. I read and re-read everything by him in the public library. However, by the time this book came out, in 1993, he'd kind of fallen off my radar. It wasn't so much that my tastes had changed as that my life was a bit chaotic at the time (not apocalypse-level chaotic, but enough that I wasn't really tracking authors...) The first thing that struck me on reading this was, "Oh, yes, THIS is why I liked Clarke so much!" I just really enjoy his writing style. He might not have the deepest characterization (like many sci-fi authors of his era) but his writing is just very engaging - full of interesting ideas and striking images while managing to stay consistently accessible. However, I can't say that this book is Clarke's peak. It was expanded from a magazine article, and it shows. It's barely a novel, really. It has absolutely zero plot tension. As a matter of fact, I'm not sure I've ever read a more relaxed-feeling, chatty lead-up to an apocalypse. The end of the world is louring, and Clarke is just like, "Let me go on a tangent and tell you something interesting that I was just thinking about." Actually, the whole book kind of feels like sitting down to dinner with an elderly Clarke and letting him just ramble on to you about whatever comes into his head. Now, that's not a bad thing - I would've jumped at such an opportunity!!! But. The situation here is that a comet is approaching the earth. As it comes closer, it begins to look more and more likely that it will hit. Captain Robert Singh of the Goliath is the head of a space mission that will attempt to divert or deflect the extraterrestrial missile from our path. As I said, along the way there are plenty of tangents. I actually think my favorite part of the book might've been the bit about running a foot race on Mars - on its own it would've made an exceedingly fine short story. Does it really even belong where it is in this book? Not sure. Overall - a good book, but not a great one.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bookwraiths

    Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths Reviews I was at my local public library trying to sign up for e-book service (Don’t get me started on how annoying that was) when I stumbled upon this book. As I began reading, I wondered how I had missed this novel back in the 90s. This was answered within two chapters, however, when I realized I had read this back in the day and just forgotten about it. The premise of The Hammer of God is (drum roll please) an steroid on a collision course with Earth. And yes Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths Reviews I was at my local public library trying to sign up for e-book service (Don’t get me started on how annoying that was) when I stumbled upon this book. As I began reading, I wondered how I had missed this novel back in the 90s. This was answered within two chapters, however, when I realized I had read this back in the day and just forgotten about it. The premise of The Hammer of God is (drum roll please) an steroid on a collision course with Earth. And yes, there have been several novels exploring this same premise and also a couple movie released in 1998. (For those keeping track, the movies were Deep Impact starring Robert Duvall and Morgan Freeman and Armageddon directed by Michael Bay, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, and headlined by a star-studded cast including Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Billy BobThornton, Liv Tyler, and Owen Wilson.) Mr. Clarke’s novel is a bit different from the normal disaster, end-of-the-world story or movie in that it spends the majority of its time following the life of our main character, spaceship-captain Robert Singh. Singh appears to be a normal man of his times, and we explore that time through his life. We are shown his youth as an athlete competing in a marathon race on the Lunar surface. We are watch as Singh reminisces about his first love and his first child being born on a technocrat controlled Earth of 3 billion people. From there, we follow Robert Singh to the colony on Mars, which is gradually terra forming the Red Planet, and we even touch upon his time as a bored space captain. Interspersed among our life story of Robert Singh is plenty of narrative about Earth history, the evolution of technology, religion, and society, and the how of Earth’s plan to protect itself against the fate of the dinosaurs: extinction by asteroid strike. Eventually, Mr. Clarke gets around to talking about our ominous asteroid of death: Kali it is named. The how and why of Kali’s existence is touched upon, and we then are given a brief story of Goliath, Singh's ship, emergency voyage to rendevous with Kali. The narrative briefly describes the construction and operation of a special thruster used on Kali to nudge its orbit a tiny bit so as to make it miss Earth, and - since this is a novel, not a scientific paper - Mr. Clarke throws several problems at Robert Singh and the crew of the Goliath to complicates their task and make it a more interesting story. All in all, this was a decent novel, but it was not a great one by any stretch. Mr. Clarke writes at the end that The Hammer of God began its existence as a short story, and it probably should have remained one, because it seemed stretched out for no practical purpose except to relay more scientific information. Also, the difficulties encountered by Singh and his ship seem impractical and somewhat ridiculous though they did add a small amount of drama. No matter its faults, however, I will admit that the moments when Robert Singh contemplates his past and speaks about his first love and his first child being the most precious times of his life were poignantly written and did touch a chord with me. For that reason and the science it imparts, I’m glad I “rediscovered” this book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jake

    This is an especially important Clarke novel because its central plot is mitigating the threat of an asteroid impact. The prospect of such an event, which many scientists regard as inevitable, plays out as a subplot in other Clarke novels, including Rendezvous with Rama . But here it is what the novel is all about. While I felt this novel lacked the philosophical depth of 2001: A Space Odyssey or Childhood's End , I enjoyed the science in it and Clarke's concise approach to plot devel This is an especially important Clarke novel because its central plot is mitigating the threat of an asteroid impact. The prospect of such an event, which many scientists regard as inevitable, plays out as a subplot in other Clarke novels, including Rendezvous with Rama . But here it is what the novel is all about. While I felt this novel lacked the philosophical depth of 2001: A Space Odyssey or Childhood's End , I enjoyed the science in it and Clarke's concise approach to plot development. The man never drifted into 1,000 page novels that say, "Hey, look at all my research n' stuff." He kept to the key issues he wanted to explore. My favorite part of this novel is a speech describing the groupings of asteroids that exist in gravitational pockets on either side of Jupiter's orbital path. Invoking a sense of Greek mythology, this speech masterfully depicts the shooting gallery effect the gas giant has on inner planets. Don't miss this one.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Carl Alves

    In The Hammer of God, a comet threatens to destroy human life on the planet Earth. This doesn’t represent all of humanity, since humans have colonized the moon and the planet Mars, so in a worst case scenario, the human race lives on. Tasked with the monumental challenge of redirecting the comet is Captain Singh and his crew of scientists on the Goliath with a laser weapon that is designed to slightly redirect the course of the comet so that it doesn’t splatter Earth. Plan B is to use a massive In The Hammer of God, a comet threatens to destroy human life on the planet Earth. This doesn’t represent all of humanity, since humans have colonized the moon and the planet Mars, so in a worst case scenario, the human race lives on. Tasked with the monumental challenge of redirecting the comet is Captain Singh and his crew of scientists on the Goliath with a laser weapon that is designed to slightly redirect the course of the comet so that it doesn’t splatter Earth. Plan B is to use a massive warhead attached to a missile, which still may not solve the problem, only splinter the comet into many smaller pieces, which still may do serious damage. If you strip down the book to its basic plot, it’s about the size of a long short story or a short novella. There isn’t really a whole lot to it. Mostly the novel is a series of flashbacks and backstory, but there wasn’t a whole lot of meat on the bones so to speak. As a result, there wasn’t a whole lot of continuity in the novel and it felt very scattered. It was a quick read, but at the same time it seemed there was a significant amount of fluff. Ultimately, I thought it was a solid read but it didn’t wow me. Carl Alves – author of Reconquest: Mother Earth

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Stewart

    Great classic sci-fi from one of the masters of the genre. This is short but profound.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Another end of a year, another re-reading of a Clarke novel. (It's something I find I do every year around Arthur's birthdate in December.) This time I’ve gone for one of his last. The Hammer of God is Arthur's first solo novel after The Ghost from the Grand Banks and his first novel after The Garden of Rama, his co-authorship of the third in the Rama series with Gentry Lee. (The fourth book in the Rama series, Rama Revealed, was published four months after this.) He was yet to become 'Sir Arthur Another end of a year, another re-reading of a Clarke novel. (It's something I find I do every year around Arthur's birthdate in December.) This time I’ve gone for one of his last. The Hammer of God is Arthur's first solo novel after The Ghost from the Grand Banks and his first novel after The Garden of Rama, his co-authorship of the third in the Rama series with Gentry Lee. (The fourth book in the Rama series, Rama Revealed, was published four months after this.) He was yet to become 'Sir Arthur', which didn't happen until 1998. The Hammer of God was a novel expanded from a short story first published by Time Magazine in October 1992, although it uses Clarkean themes from earlier novels. Most noticeable is the idea of Spaceguard, the orbital early warning system mentioned in the first few pages of Rendezvous with Rama. In short, The Hammer of God is a disaster novel, telling of the impending arrival of an asteroid named Kali (the Hindu god of death) to Earth, threatening apocalyptic destruction. What makes this different from other disaster novels, of course, is that this is a novel told with Clarke’s unique voice. The plot is told in about fifty short chapters, each rarely more than a couple of pages long. The story is mainly focussed around Robert Singh, who is the captain of the expedition to hopefully stop Kali before it reaches Earth. Named Goliath, the plan is to gently nudge Kali using a pile driver so that it misses Earth. If this sounds like another Earth-in-peril story, well, it is. What makes this a little different is that along the way we get a story filled with Clarke’s ideas, many of which are unusual, though suffused with Sir Arthur’s gentle humour. He suggests that in this future the religions of Christianity and Islam have combined to create ‘Chrislam’, sharing their central beliefs for the good of all. Computers are now part of everyday life, although as written from the perspective of 1993 perhaps not as much as social media would predominate today. Goliath is partly run by an AI, unsurprisingly called David, who has developed some quite human mannerisms. David is a much more personable version of his famous predecessor, HAL 9000. There’s an engaging list of what I suspect were Clarke’s interests at the time – mysteries (from his television series Arthur C Clarke’s Mysterious World), religion, social studies, scientific research – all combined in his trademark slightly bemused, often gently sardonic written style and encapsulated into a 'humans in peril' story. And most of all at the end there is the idea that science triumphs all, that it can be used for the human race’s greater good, which is combined with the often-used Clarke belief that when Mankind works together it can do great things. There are concerns along the way, but in the end it is a positive work. When I first read this back in the 1990's, I felt that it was a lesser Clarke novel. And so it is. Whilst I would never claim it was a book written for the money – after all, Clarke by this stage in his career had no need to do so – it does use themes recognisable throughout his earlier work. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that similar material has been published before. Whereas once Sir Arthur led the way in fresh ideas and concepts, here I found it more of an accumulation of his favourite ideas at the time of writing, some of which have been used before. It was, however, a lovely experience to read again material with Clarke’s ever-identifiable voice and familiar ideas but whereas before such material broke new ground here it just consolidates the concepts into an engagingly enjoyable read. In short, it's a story that Clarke fans will enjoy. I enjoyed it a great deal and it reminded me of what a voice we have lost but, whilst entertaining, it is not one to hold up as 'classic' Clarke.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Arun Divakar

    The climb to higher pedestals of scientific achievement has made man snug in his confidence. A confidence that erroneously makes him think that most if not all the challenges that nature throws at him can be averted by his technical toys. Let's now take help from a talented sci-fi author and fast forward into a technically much more advanced future. Mars and Moon have been colonized and man is perhaps at the Zenith of his technical prowess. Now take one of the oldest points of terror of humanity The climb to higher pedestals of scientific achievement has made man snug in his confidence. A confidence that erroneously makes him think that most if not all the challenges that nature throws at him can be averted by his technical toys. Let's now take help from a talented sci-fi author and fast forward into a technically much more advanced future. Mars and Moon have been colonized and man is perhaps at the Zenith of his technical prowess. Now take one of the oldest points of terror of humanity : a rain of fire from the skies and add it to this mix. What comes of this concoction is The Hammer of God . A meteor threatens humanity with extinction and a bold team of space cowboys goes out there to save all of us and that pretty much sums up the whole plot. The point of difference between this novel and the likes of movies like Armageddon is definitely the writing by Clarke. Backed up with points of scientific fact and interesting view points on the growth of science in an exceedingly technically addicted world comes this swashbuckler. While not exactly Clarke's best writing, it is a quick and breezy read. Even for a relatively slow reader like me, the book took somewhere close to 6 hours to finish. An interesting read !

  9. 4 out of 5

    David (דוד)

    3.5 Stars Good theme. Story reminds us of possibilities of disaster if an asteroid or a comet crosses its path with the earth's orbit, and in such an instance what can us (collectively) as a so-called intelligent species do - try to intervene and avoid the disaster, or allow it to happen as Nature wants it so. Taking place in the year 2110, quite an amount of futuristic technology has been (very well) described where humanity has been successful in colonizing the Moon and Mars, where the latter is 3.5 Stars Good theme. Story reminds us of possibilities of disaster if an asteroid or a comet crosses its path with the earth's orbit, and in such an instance what can us (collectively) as a so-called intelligent species do - try to intervene and avoid the disaster, or allow it to happen as Nature wants it so. Taking place in the year 2110, quite an amount of futuristic technology has been (very well) described where humanity has been successful in colonizing the Moon and Mars, where the latter is at this point in its longer process of terraforming. A well-described sport (Running) on the lunar surface's 1/6-gee is an interesting idea; formation of a reconciled religion called Chrislam; the Brainman: a Virtual Reality machine worn on the head where "billions of atom-sized terminals make painless contact with the skin of the cranium" to revisit one's memories or entertain or educate oneself. These were absolutely amazing ideas to read, and will rate it very high. The story however fails to keep the reader grasped after one-half of the book, but has its own twists and turns. As is sometimes the case, Clarke has used the storyline in this as a thread around which his amazing ideas have been woven. The book is worth reading for these futuristic ideas, if not the story.

  10. 4 out of 5

    melydia

    This was my first Clarke book, and though I'm generally pretty unenthusiastic about death-comet-hurtling-towards-Earth stories, this one was surprisingly good. Clarke is clearly an idea guy; much of the story is about the various technologies that have emerged over the next couple hundred years, with only smaller parts devoted to the trials of the characters. Usually this sort of thing would turn me off, which probably says a lot for the talent of Clarke. I read this book over the course of abou This was my first Clarke book, and though I'm generally pretty unenthusiastic about death-comet-hurtling-towards-Earth stories, this one was surprisingly good. Clarke is clearly an idea guy; much of the story is about the various technologies that have emerged over the next couple hundred years, with only smaller parts devoted to the trials of the characters. Usually this sort of thing would turn me off, which probably says a lot for the talent of Clarke. I read this book over the course of about 30 hours, including a lengthy flight, where I rarely can read for very long at a stretch. So that's saying something. Certainly worth picking up if you're a fan of SF.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    2.5 stars for The Hammer of God by Arthur C Clarke. I’d like to give it more but can’t. This has to be the basis for both Deep Impact and Armageddon movies. Asteroid is discovered heading for Earth. Team is sent by spaceship to adjust the orbit slightly. They have to improvise due to problems and face the choice of sacrificing their lives to accomplish the mission. Hope he got royalties from both movies. Nice short chapters but he includes extraneous stuff that doesn’t support the storyline (lik 2.5 stars for The Hammer of God by Arthur C Clarke. I’d like to give it more but can’t. This has to be the basis for both Deep Impact and Armageddon movies. Asteroid is discovered heading for Earth. Team is sent by spaceship to adjust the orbit slightly. They have to improvise due to problems and face the choice of sacrificing their lives to accomplish the mission. Hope he got royalties from both movies. Nice short chapters but he includes extraneous stuff that doesn’t support the storyline (like a new religion—Chrislam—a mash up of Christianity, Islam and Hinduism). But it takes only a couple of hours to speed through the book and always good to read one of the great authors—even this middling work is ok. The one area I do think is worth exploring is the responsibility for governments to spend some resources looking out for objects headed for Earth and developing ways to avoid the catastrophe.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Stefan

    Hammer of God, was in my opinion neither Clarke’s best work or among my favorite novel of his. Still, it was a higher grade of writing and intelligence then a large number of science fiction novels out there. The plot was highly readable and the characters were interesting (I like how Clarke used the back stories to create a bit more depth). I appreciated Clarke’s articulation of the effects of an asteroid hitting earth, the plausibility of the system developed to detect asteroids, and the actio Hammer of God, was in my opinion neither Clarke’s best work or among my favorite novel of his. Still, it was a higher grade of writing and intelligence then a large number of science fiction novels out there. The plot was highly readable and the characters were interesting (I like how Clarke used the back stories to create a bit more depth). I appreciated Clarke’s articulation of the effects of an asteroid hitting earth, the plausibility of the system developed to detect asteroids, and the actions taken to ensure that the asteroid did not hit earth.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Shivesh

    Not one of Clarke's best but as usual with his books this is an incredibly fast read - one weekend afternoon took me from cover to cover, endnotes included. All about Kali, an asteroid which head straight for Earth in the next century. Poor on characterization but the novel is really concerned with how a civilization comes around to spotting a death asteroid like this and how we could plan on destroying it. So a multitude of characters flit through the narrative, many of them which Clarke himsel Not one of Clarke's best but as usual with his books this is an incredibly fast read - one weekend afternoon took me from cover to cover, endnotes included. All about Kali, an asteroid which head straight for Earth in the next century. Poor on characterization but the novel is really concerned with how a civilization comes around to spotting a death asteroid like this and how we could plan on destroying it. So a multitude of characters flit through the narrative, many of them which Clarke himself admits are based on real life people. The colossal distances of the Solar System are minimized in the narrative, but that is easily overlooked as the story moves quick and wastes no time. The highlight is definitely Clarke's take on religious fanatics and how they would confront the future cosmic possibilities of 1. an intelligent civilization transmitting radio signals to us, and 2. a scary space mountain headed straight for us in a matter of months. Part of Clarke's amazing vision of what Mankind could be; its kind of sad to read about colonies on Mars and a Trans-Lunar Railway that he predicts in our near future, when in reality we aren't anywhere close to that and probably won't be in our lifetimes. Sci-fi is always so optimistic! After all, Bradbury had human cities on Mars in 2001. Ha!

  14. 4 out of 5

    James

    It's certainly a short story. I read the whole thing on my morning commute with time to spare. In fact, I'll need to be careful that this review doesn't end up longer than the story. The story describes the eponymous asteroid, heading towards Earth, expected to be an extinction event for humanity. Comparisons are made to the previous such event which wiped out the dinosaurs. A team is dispatched to attach an engine to the asteroid to push it out of the collision path. Unfortunately religious ext It's certainly a short story. I read the whole thing on my morning commute with time to spare. In fact, I'll need to be careful that this review doesn't end up longer than the story. The story describes the eponymous asteroid, heading towards Earth, expected to be an extinction event for humanity. Comparisons are made to the previous such event which wiped out the dinosaurs. A team is dispatched to attach an engine to the asteroid to push it out of the collision path. Unfortunately religious extremists have sabotaged the plan and the team have to decide how much far they are willing to go to save humanity. It's a great little story. Unfortunately it suffers from two problems, firstly that short stories are by their very nature short. They don't take too long to read, but they don't give you much time to get into them. It's a great idea, but I was left wishing it had been longer. The second problem isn't really the story's fault, and it's that the premise has since been done, to death (so to speak), repeatedly. All sorts of movies and other media exploring and extending the idea of the extinction event asteroid heading towards Earth. Before those, this may have scored higher...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Akash Amat

    Great hard sci-fi and one of the best works of fiction about impact avoidance. Too much irrelevant focus about one of the character's life bogs the book down a bit, but the highly insightful 'Sources and Acknowledgements' section makes up for it. Hence, 4/5. There's also a related short story, which I have discussed below. A Few Words on Fiction about Impact Avoidance Being able to prevent an impact event, is a major step in the growth of a civilization, is a good representative example of how nih Great hard sci-fi and one of the best works of fiction about impact avoidance. Too much irrelevant focus about one of the character's life bogs the book down a bit, but the highly insightful 'Sources and Acknowledgements' section makes up for it. Hence, 4/5. There's also a related short story, which I have discussed below. A Few Words on Fiction about Impact Avoidance Being able to prevent an impact event, is a major step in the growth of a civilization, is a good representative example of how nihilism and such negative ways of thinking aren't quite useful, and underlines how just working towards progress is the way. With that context, I had settled on Moonfall for a read last year ( Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... ). After the read, it seemed like the best work of fiction I had 'come across' about impact avoidance, even with all its faults. However, the forums indicated that The Hammer of God is also a good entry in the subgenre. Also THoG is written by the big man Clarke himself, and seems more widely known with 3.5 times more Goodreads votes than Moonfall, though the average rating is slightly less. Thoughts on the Book Although a wiki entry for the book had been published before I took up the book, I had found it to be too small and after finishing the book I added details related to the Setting, Plot and Background: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ham... That article itself, though limited by Wikipedia restrictions, covers A LOT of the stuff I might otherwise have put here. Good fiction about realistic utopia is relatively rare and the excuse I've heard is that, by definition, it is difficult to create interesting stories about conflict and challenges in a utopian civilization. Going through the descriptions of the boatloads of books out there, it seems most writers find it difficult to just create realistic interesting stories. Hence, dystopian fiction is much more common. Too common. Unnecessarily common and lazily thought out, if you ask me. Some of the recent surveying of fiction I have done, is with a rudimentary plan to understand the history of and maybe contribute to, utopian fiction in some way. Taking care of health, work and family duties being the priority, reviews etc. would have to be it for now. The society is somewhat utopian in THoG. And although the setting is secondary to plot, and the choice of the setting seems less due to Clarke's interest in writing an utopia and more due to contemporary predictions about Comet Swift-Tuttle, he still has created a pretty interesting utopia, albeit (justifiably?) lacking in detail. This is a great article highlighting the spirit of Clarke: https://rossdawson.com/futurist/best-... Apart from the very intriguing socio-political and religious bits, the discussion of various futuristic technologies as well as speculations about fundamental physics (force fields, 'restricted' wormholes and the verified one – gravitational waves) is succinct. From Lagrangian points to composition of asteroids, Clarke also describes real concepts with accuracy and clarity. The action and suspense is also quite entertaining. However, I think Robert Singh's life events took too much, space (sounds punny, I know, I know), without adding much for the reader. A septuagenarian and residing away from his place of birth, he also has quite a few parallels to Clarke. Clarke might just have indulged a bit there. 'Utopia in peril', especially in realistic sci-fi, can be a medium for insights which can make a book almost 'sacred'. There's quite some lost potential there, I think. Also, I think an advanced society as THoG's would have got a more robust plan, though the unexpected delay in the asteroid's detection might explain away that argument. Though, I don't think there was even a mention of an insurance plan - like the cave construction in Deep Impact movie. It is an interplanetary civilization in the book, granted, but Clarke missed quite a few aspects of the scenario, I'd say. Speaking of contingency plans - I think that's a topic which such works rarely touch upon. Though, Deep Impact did, and the upcoming movie Greenland also seems to have addressed it and they seem to have used the concept of an interstellar comet. (ugh... that was a concept I had in mind for a new work... would look less original now. Kidding. Between Moonfall and 'Oumuamua, the concept is rare to hear of, but not new.) From what I've read about Seveneves, it also mentions the topic. It should be noted that the dinosaur killer was not an Earth killer. (Something interesting) Many species survived and, of course, they weren't sapient. Homo sapiens are supposed to do better - survive AND preserve a fair bit of the civilization. Hence, contingency plans for failure of impact avoidance is a topic which perhaps hasn't got enough attention. Though, a similar but comparatively less intense catastrophe - nuclear apocalypse - has gotten a lot of attention, with fallout shelters and survivalism in general. However, I don't know how effective they are for or how soon they could be upgraded for, dealing with an impact event. Impact event is one of the reasons stated to strive towards making humans an interplanetary species. That's a good perspective. However, contingencies like long term, large scale underground habitats etc. with respect to impact events are also important topics and don't seem to have been acted upon or even discussed much in popular media. Compared to Moonfall, the action is quite straightforward and less intense, and the futuristic setting also doesn't quite compensate for that, considering a cinematic view. The astrophysical aspect is also simpler in THoG - Moonfall had an interstellar comet hitting Moon and the multitude of debris creating danger for the earthlings, not to mention the moon-base. Though, overall both the books have different strengths and weaknesses, and I like both of them quite equally. Moonfall might have a slight edge due to its more intricate story and the near future setting. This was my first read of a Clarke book. The language was good but never quite spectacular IMHO. Here's an interesting article: io9.gizmodo.com/was-arthur-c-clarke-a... ... Contrary to the words there, it's actually quite appreciative of Clarke, while providing critique of his skill. Coming to ranking Clarke's books, THoG ranks quite well, but still seems underrated: https://www.ranker.com/list/best-arth... 1986's The Songs of Distant Earth, again on an 'Utopia in peril' (looking at the wiki summary), also seems interesting to me. I came across some comments about Clarke having declined after 1980s, but looking at THoG and TSoDE, I think any decline would have happened only later. I haven't read the earlier 2001: ASO, and having watched the movie, I have no plans to do so – however technically groundbreaking it might be, as far as the story goes, it seems inconsequential and pretentious. BTW, I think there's a major goof in the book... "Kali must have been in a busy part of the Solar System ten billion years ago." In reality, the Solar System is 'only' 4.5 billlion years old! The Short Story As mentioned in the wiki, the novel was developed from a (~15 page) short story by the same author. Obviously, the short story is a lot more focused but still competently carries a similar plot. The book does have added value because of some interesting (but perhaps not always essential) details regarding the society, technology and history as well as having more twists to the tale. But as I said above, the focus on Singh's life is a bit much, and it seems even more pronounced after reading the short story. Also, some passages of the short story are used verbatim in the novel. One particular difference is that in the short story, the asteroid doesn't get split, it wholly skips off Earth's atmosphere and the crew of Goliath die from the deceleration forces when the asteroid hits the atmosphere. I know novel-writing must have its set of established techniques (which I'm not well acquainted with), but THoG presents a particularly interesting case where the novel grew from a short story, and had added value but also some bloat. I find it interesting and good about Clarke that he sometimes revisits his older works for upgrades - particularly, The Hammer of God and The City and the Stars. This observation reminds me of this: https://www.quora.com/How-common-are-... For note, GR has the short story filed as a version of the book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4... I think it should have got it's separate entry. History of Fiction about Impact Avoidance For how important and interesting impact avoidance is, I think the science fiction community was a bit late to bring their attention to the topic. Apart from Vernes' and Wells' somewhat related works, it seems it was Clarke himself who brought this theme to attention in 1973's Rendezvous with Rama. Though, (from its wiki summary, I can tell...) impact event isn't the main theme there. (P.S.: 1933's When Worlds Collide and the 1951 movie adaptation are also of note.) 1977's Lucifer's Hammer has an impact event as a key point, but not impact avoidance. I came across one surprising find, which well might be the earliest novel to discuss impact avoidance – 1976's Dhoomketu by Indian astrophysicist-cum-writer Jayant Narlikar Indians might know of Narlikar from his alt-history story - 'The Adventure' - in one of the English school textbooks. Then there's the 1979 Sean Connery movie Meteor. The Acknowledgement section in The Hammer of God is detailed, and there itself some of the history of the subgenre and of real impact events are discussed and so is their influence in the inception of the novel. Lucifer's Hammer gets praise and even Meteor does, to an extent. And some lesser known novels get mention too, like 1967 A Torrent of Faces by James Blish and Norman L. Knight and 1980 Shiva Descending by Gregory Benford and William Rotsler. Here's an important point though... As mentioned in the book's wiki article, it was only in the 1980s that the impact event hypothesis of the K-Pg extinction event got published, and just that pretty much led to this novel. I had no idea that humans landed on the moon BEFORE coming anywhere close to confirming the cause of dinosaurs' extinction. But then, considering the money spent and the geopolitical factors, it is not surprising that the moon landings happened earlier than quite a few scientific and social developments. The subsequent conception of Deep Impact, Armageddon and even Moonfall, and general increase in awareness of such events might have also been due to the spectacular collision of Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 with Jupiter in 1994.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Craig

    I first read this one when it came out twenty-five years ago, and just listened to it when I stumbled across the audiobook at the local library. I didn't really remember much about it; it had become jumbled in my head with the Armageddon and Deep Impact films and the novels Shiva Descending and Lucifer's Hammer. The story jumps about peripatetically in short bursts as did most of Clarke's later work, but it manages to develop convincing characterization and tells an interesting story along with I first read this one when it came out twenty-five years ago, and just listened to it when I stumbled across the audiobook at the local library. I didn't really remember much about it; it had become jumbled in my head with the Armageddon and Deep Impact films and the novels Shiva Descending and Lucifer's Hammer. The story jumps about peripatetically in short bursts as did most of Clarke's later work, but it manages to develop convincing characterization and tells an interesting story along with Clarke's trademark quips and quotes and notions. It's short, educational, and entertaining, and still holds up pretty well.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alina

    This novel has an episodic nature, with many short chapters, dealing with different aspects of the story (some of quite small importance), jumping through time and space: - Scientific background about asteroids and interesting facts about past impacts, also dedicating a chapter to father-and-son geologists Luis & Walter Alvarez and the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event - Robert Singh’s life and memories, mentioning casually relationships/sex topic - Goliath, Singh's ship, and David, the main co This novel has an episodic nature, with many short chapters, dealing with different aspects of the story (some of quite small importance), jumping through time and space: - Scientific background about asteroids and interesting facts about past impacts, also dedicating a chapter to father-and-son geologists Luis & Walter Alvarez and the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event - Robert Singh’s life and memories, mentioning casually relationships/sex topic - Goliath, Singh's ship, and David, the main computer of this ship - Asteroid Kali, coming towards Earth and solutions to deviate its course - Chrislam religion - a mash-up of Christianity, Islam and Hinduism - Politics - little information, I would have liked to see it developed more I enjoyed the jape with SPACEGUARD - ”the name being inspired by an obscure SF novel of XX-th century” - a reference to Rendezvous with Rama :) Also, the chapter dedicated to DisneyMars was a nice touch, Clarke reminding Wells, Burroughs, Bradbury, etc. who all wrote about Mars. I only gave it 3* because it left me with the impression that Clarke gathered facts and wrote some main ideas, insisting on them too little and not quite developing them and the characters (except maybe Singh). Even so, I would definitely recommend it as a reading, especially as I like his subtle humor :)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Max Anadon

    Well, I'm getting behind in my reviews. One of my favorite sci-fi books is Clarke's Childhood's End, which I will probably reread this year to see if I still like it. I liked Hammer because each 'chapter' was only a couple of pages...I like feeling like I'm progressing when I read a book. Context-wise, I liked that the Hammer was explained right away in being the asteroid, Kali, and that its path was directly towards Earth. The book jumps around in time, but follows the captain, Robert Singh, mo Well, I'm getting behind in my reviews. One of my favorite sci-fi books is Clarke's Childhood's End, which I will probably reread this year to see if I still like it. I liked Hammer because each 'chapter' was only a couple of pages...I like feeling like I'm progressing when I read a book. Context-wise, I liked that the Hammer was explained right away in being the asteroid, Kali, and that its path was directly towards Earth. The book jumps around in time, but follows the captain, Robert Singh, mostly. The captain leads the ship that will land on Kali and attempt to alter the trajector with project ATLAS. Interested parties on Earth must also make their plans... Colonies on the moon and Mars fill in some of the future, and the story is certainly believable. For me, something was just missing. Action maybe. Two or three times I had to reread a small section, and still wasn't sure if I was understanding what Clarke wanted me to. It was nice that he based the historical events on fact, and always a message there for us with the future...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    So far so eh...My first "real" book since I got my Kindle is not living up to expectations. Arthur C. Clarke, Real Hardcover, Real Sci-Fi. And I feel nothing.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tom Meyer

    Vintage Clarke: fast-paced, fun, clever, occasionally mischievous, full of interesting speculation, and scientifically sound. Why isn't this a movie?

  21. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    Good sci-fi novel - reads very quickly. Plot is exactly what you would expect from Clarke

  22. 5 out of 5

    Arko

    My very first Arthur C. Clarke novel and it really gave me a thrilling ride within our Solar system with vivid details and his praiseworthy foresight. The beauty of a novel by Clarke , I felt is in the way he goes into the scientific details and sculpts out a thrilling tale with impressive foresight which has good chances to be realized some day in future. The story of this novel might be a straight forward one, omitting numerous difficulties in space travel, yet the strength in his picturizatio My very first Arthur C. Clarke novel and it really gave me a thrilling ride within our Solar system with vivid details and his praiseworthy foresight. The beauty of a novel by Clarke , I felt is in the way he goes into the scientific details and sculpts out a thrilling tale with impressive foresight which has good chances to be realized some day in future. The story of this novel might be a straight forward one, omitting numerous difficulties in space travel, yet the strength in his picturization infused with cutting edge scientific developments (at the time of writing this novel) is very appreciable. The asteroid impact aimed to be averted in this novel will indeed be reality some day as there lurks innumerable such floating chunks having the potential of wiping all earthly living species. Such an incident was indeed blocked by Jupiter in 1994. Not every time the coordinates will be in our favour. Already Apophis was feared to be returned from the gravitational key hole point which would miss Earth by few million kilometers only. One day we will indeed be attempting to terraform Mars and investigate the water rich satellites Europa and Enceladus. But a project for deflecting comets or asteroids will be very imprtant to save impacts with our home planet. Much like how Clarke visualizes in this novel.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bryan Alkire

    This one is ok. Clarke’s strengths are telling a narrative and world-building not characters or insight. The idea was interesting and the solution ingenious. Clarke does science well, not something that can be said of all SF writers. Additionally, this book isn’t too dated, everyone can enjoy it…the advantage of limited characters and dialogue is that no one is offensive years later. My main issue is that I found the narrative structure a bit jarring at times, almost seems as though the book was This one is ok. Clarke’s strengths are telling a narrative and world-building not characters or insight. The idea was interesting and the solution ingenious. Clarke does science well, not something that can be said of all SF writers. Additionally, this book isn’t too dated, everyone can enjoy it…the advantage of limited characters and dialogue is that no one is offensive years later. My main issue is that I found the narrative structure a bit jarring at times, almost seems as though the book was written as a movie… On the whole I give this one a 3. It’s perfectly adequate SF and I like the ideas and solutions, but it does lack characters and has a certain emotional detachment and a lightly disconcerting narrative structure.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Johnston

    **3.5** Clever writer. Doesn't bore you too much with over emphasis on the science, whilst employing some nice characterisations. Absolutely loved the Mars references to his contemporaries, H.G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Ray Bradbury.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Maja Shinigami

    You can destroy my Kali anytime, Mr. Clarke.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Robin Pilgrim

    Arthur C Clarke did it again. :) You learn a lot reading him.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    An interesting scifi story about the efforts of human inhabitants of Mars to prevent an asteroid from impacting with and destroying the earth. Various actual earth events are cited and these give the story added depth meaning.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Zane

    Coming off of reading the utterly fantastic science-based Rendezvous with Rama, the extensive information about space Olympics and religion is keeping me from finishing this, I’m DNFing at 50%.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Karl Kindt

    Well, at least it was coherent, unlike his previous novel. This story is best when ACC is explaining orbital mechanics and things related to the planets. Again he hatefully attacks all religion (except Hinduism, sort of) and asserts judgmental claims without support and shows he knows little about real politics, human sexuality, and women. Sigh. Unlike PKD, and like Heinlein, I'm glad to be done reading all his novels.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Neil

    This was an interesting book to read. I almost wish I had read it 'way back when' it first came out. I found myself wondering if he would have changed anything prior to releasing the book if it had been written and released after Shoemaker-Levy collided with Jupiter. It was a decent book; it held my interest throughout the entire reading. It was not a nail-biter, by any means, but it was still a fun read. It has a lot of sections [chapters] 'building the backstory' and building up to the present. This was an interesting book to read. I almost wish I had read it 'way back when' it first came out. I found myself wondering if he would have changed anything prior to releasing the book if it had been written and released after Shoemaker-Levy collided with Jupiter. It was a decent book; it held my interest throughout the entire reading. It was not a nail-biter, by any means, but it was still a fun read. It has a lot of sections [chapters] 'building the backstory' and building up to the present. I think the author could have done a better job indicating which parts of the book were 'the past' and which were 'the present'; a couple of times I did get a little confused when reading and had to backtrack to see what I had missed. In regard to religion - I thought the author had an interesting concept [I guess]. (view spoiler)[He has Christianity and Islam merge into the world's fourth largest religion called 'Chrislam'; it must be more elements of the two religions are merged into forming this 'new' religion. Christianity is the world's largest religion with over two billion adherents, followed by Islam and then Hinduism. I could see Hinduism become the world's largest religion depending on how many converts shifted to Chrislam. I did not fully understand how or why this religion came into existence, other than it having to do with US soldiers being exposed to Islam during the first Gulf War. Just because they were exposed does not mean such a thing would happen, but let's not quibble. It worked for the story. (hide spoiler)] He was oddly prophetic in this book(view spoiler)[, as he referred to 'the desert wars' against the Muslim oil countries and only one war had been fought at that point, the First Gulf War (hide spoiler)] . It had an interesting mix of 'sci-fi stuff' in it. Food on Earth [and the Moon and Mars] was created by reusing [recycling] human waste products to create food. Some animals were no longer alive, but they could be re-engineered and genetically modified because their entire DNA was recorded in computer banks around the world. (view spoiler)[Robert Singh's son on Earth had a miniaturized Bengal tiger for a pet, for example. (hide spoiler)] People live longer lives; some can live up to 150 years of age or more. There is a device that you wear over your entire head and it allows you to experience recordings and incoming messages in 3D. There is no FTL travel in the book, though. People received messages via 'spacefax' as opposed to a computer printout. People are limited to two children [although that must be limited to your current spouse as Robert is divorced and remarried; he has an adult child on Earth and two children on Mars]. There were habitats on the Moon and Mars; people lived out around Jupiter, as well. There were robots, artificial intelligences, and experimental space suits used during the Moon [Lunar ?] Olympics. I did find one part of the book especially 'funny'. (view spoiler)[When the crew of the Goliath learn that they are going to die in orbit around Kali, they indulge in every sexual activity they can with whomever they can as often as they can [the book does not go into graphic details, fortunately]. In addition, the crew quits exercising and eats so much food that they individually put on a minimum of ten pounds each. It just struck me as funny, that they fully gave in to the whole 'let's eat, drink, and be merry, because tomorrow we may die!' mindset, yet they ended up not dying at the end of the book. The crew was rescued by their sister ship, the Hercules. (hide spoiler)] It made me want to look for and read Shiva Descending as a comparative novel. I had read the novelization of the movie Meteor 'back in the day' [in which the Russians and Americans worked together to try and stop an incoming space rock from destroying the planet]. Of course, the 'bad' reviews for Shiva Descending may discourage me from reading it. We'll see. Overall, I am glad I [finally] read this book [as I have thought about reading it for quite some time, now].

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