Today on Blogcritics
Home » “Lucifer’s Hammer” takes no prisoners

“Lucifer’s Hammer” takes no prisoners

Please Share...Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Pin on Pinterest0Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

I just read Larry Niven’s and Jerry Pournelle’s novel “Lucifer’s Hammer,” an apocalyptic epic first published in 1977. It’s haunting how accurately the end of the world is portrayed. History, in many ways, has eerily mirrored “Lucifer’s Hammer.” From the Rodney King/LA riots to David Koresh to the 911 terrorist bombings, Niven and Pournelle have done an extraordinary job in creating an account of what could happen if modern society was confronted with a complete end-of-the-world scenario. This book, while dated in many ways, has withstood the test of time.

A comet is discovered and as it comes closer to earth, it becomes apparent it may strike our planet. When the comet does indeed hit the earth in multiple places, causing gigantic tidal waves, earthquakes and destruction, “Lucifer’s Hammer” follows 20-plus characters’ lives as they attempt to survive in a society without law enforcement, electricity or adequate food. As pandemonium strikes, these characters do whatever they can to survive. Cars are stolen, people murdered, and everyone scrambles for high ground as the tidal waves and incessant rain drown everything in sight.

The final third of the book deals with the pockets of civilization that slowly form. Small strongholds are built, roving groups resort to cannibalism, everyone looking for safety and food. Like castles in the Middle Ages, these groups form warrior-like bonds, with leaders forced to make tough decisions, fighting off stragglers and armies.

Much of the criticism of “Lucifer’s Hammer” has dealt with its portrayal of black people, most notably that of Alim Nassor. A former Black Panther and a full-time thief, he gathers his friends together after the comet strike, adorned in a full-length “Super Fly” mink coat, spouting ghetto slang and doing whatever he can to make sure his people (from Watts) survive. He bonds with a band of cannibals, eventually led by a Jim Jones-like prophet. They begin sweeping the countryside, raiding, looting and murdering. It’s uncomfortable reading these passages, as society has not only become a huge class war, but a race war. The stronghold they lay siege to is made up almost entirely of Caucasian residents, educated, wealthy and determined to survive.

The criticism for “Lucifer’s Hammer” deals with its portrayal of religious leaders and black people as villains. They seek to destroy any form of modern civilization, so that when society is eventually rebuilt, they will have a higher status within it. They are murderous, they are frustrated and they are deadly. Like the LA riots, people are victimized due to race and cultural standing. Frustrations left over from modern civilization inspire their actions.

When attempting to understand human culture (I grew up in south Dallas, an area which could be termed the wrong side of the tracks, so my upbringing was Howard Stern-like multicultural), all one has to do is view a normal high school cafeteria. The pockets are abundantly clear as people bond by class, by status, by culture and by race. If earth was faced with the kind of disaster so realistically portrayed in “Lucifer’s Hammer,” undoubtedly pockets of survivors would form in such a fashion. The groups would bond with people of similar race, similar class and similar status. In today’s politically-correct society, it is uncomfortable reading a book like “Lucifer’s Hammer.” But there is no doubt the wars which take place in this book would indeed happen.

I’m not sure if a book like “Lucifer’s Hammer” could be written today, as most works tend to have a token black man, Hispanic man or Italian man in the wings, following a great, flawless Caucasian leader, performing great deeds, while admiring da man. Most minorities in such works are portrayed in an almost Colin Powell-like fashion, comfortable, acceptable, one of us, always with an amusing street-wise sense of humor. Even in the recent “28 Days Later,” there’s a token black woman, quick to take action, attractive to young Caucasian men (“28 Days Later” in many ways is a hip remake of the 1971 film “The Omega Man,” which also had an attractive black woman getting it on with Charlton Heston). The recent film “Deep Impact,” which mirrors “Lucifer’s Hammer,” completely skirts this issue by having a black man (Morgan Freeman) serving as President of the United States. I suppose this is what “politically correct” means.

Alim Nassor is anything but one of the majority. Lower income, poorly educated, he is an uncomfortable cliche. What would happen to his class if the end of the world was upon us? According to “Lucifer’s Hammer,” they would probably die.

I don’t know if I would call “Lucifer’s Hammer” a classic, but it is thought provoking.

Powered by

About Chris Wilson

  • Eric Olsen

    Excellent Chris – thanks and welcome!

  • duane

    I read this about 20 years ago, and was impressed by what seemed to be the great pains taken by the authors to portray in a realistic way the effects of a comet impact. It’s not like Earth collides with a big rock, but more like it gets plastered by a planetary scale shotgun. The book predates the Shoemaker-Levy 9 impact with Jupiter, at which time this topic got pretty hot in the scientific community.

    As you indicate though, the meat of the book is the portrayal of a post-apocalyptic future. The underlying sentiment is that the cooperation of technologically competent people will win out over those who choose to regress to barbarism. Overall, that is an encouraging message. I’m skeptical that it could happen. I have a more pessimistic view of human nature, I’m afraid. I have little doubt that my property — food, clothes, autos, anything that could be bartered —would be wrested from me within the first week. Resistance would likely be met with a quick death. In the absence of police or military, those with firepower will take what they want, and feel little compunction. I believe slavery would eventually make a big comeback, as well.

    As for the cannibalism, yes, that would happen eventually, also, to some extent. Having read a bio of the Donner party, it is clear that the human will to survive overwhelms any disgust or moral taboo associated with cannibalism.

    As for the disparity in the way blacks react vs. whites, it’s moot. ANYONE with firepower and an interest in survival will resort to violence. The threat of starvation, and the threat of having to sleep in the dirt will compel people to steal by force. Looting? You bet. Whites, Blacks, Asians, American Indians — everybody. And there is little doubt that people will factionalize, largely by race, just like in prison. Unlike prison, though, there will be a lot more guns, a lot more killing. The kooky survivalists will probably survive, and the cities will be burnt to the ground. Happy, happy, eh?

    There is another potentially offensive portrayal in the novel — that of the military. Rather than organize in the name of rebuilding and protecting, they resort to brutalism — and I believe they were the cannibals, right? But then ripping on the military does not violate anyone’s sense of political correctness these days.

  • Chris Kent

    I read an excellent account on The Donner Party too called “Ordeal By Hunger.” American Experience did a great documentary on the same subject matter which was harrowing.

    Yes, in the book a branch of the Army marches for weeks before resorting to cannibalism, led by a Sgt. Hooker, a black man who was friends with Alim Nassor while growing up in the Hood – which is eventually why they bond. They create the Army (the spiritual leader a Koresh type) which eventually marches on the Caucasian compound. I found eerie similarities to what happened during the infamous Waco siege in the early 1990s, except the roles were oddly reversed.

  • duane

    Yes, “Ordeal by Hunger.” That’s the one I read, also. I picked it up at a casino gift shop in Reno, which, as you know, is not too far from Donner Pass.

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    Jerry Pournelle is a member of the white supremacist group run by longterm ‘scientific racist’ Steve Sailer. A basic tenet of their belief system is that black people are a subspecies that is inherently stupid and violent. (Incidentally, a person who visited Blogcritics during the last few days at the invitation of Al Barger is also associated with the group.) Pournelle and Sailer are friends who go to the movies together, according to Sailer. Their main ‘scientific’ source is long discredited psychologist J. Phillip Rushton. He is best known for his practice of polling minority men about the sizes of their penises in shopping malls. Material these people write, including ‘journalism’ inevitably adheres to the racism that is so important to them.

    People who followed the thread I refer to above are probably wondering why I haven’t said more about this previously. I did discuss blogging Sailer’s group back when I was a guest blogger for Atrios. We both decided that the less attention those people get, the better. But, now, their influence in the blogosphere is becoming apparent anyway. For example, another Blogcritic has promoted another member of Sailer’s group, John Derbyshire. In addition, Sailer claims to have had Glenn Reynold’s ear previously, though they appear to be on the outs now.

    Lucifer’s Hammer is okay for a post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel if you ignore the racism, sexism, classism, etc. But, I recommend Carolyn See’s much superior Golden Days instead.

  • Chris Kent

    God, I should have known I would have to be subjected to Mac Diva’s paranoid ramblings…..

    I don’t think “Lucifer’s Hammer” could be termed racist or sexist. I think it does attempt to show a world forced back into a more primitive age, and it shows how many resort to primitive means to survive. Perhaps it is disturbing to some – certainly to me. As I said, it is not a book that would be written in today’s politically correct society, thus making it all the more interesting.

    Thanks for the recommendation. I will definitely look it up.

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    Oh, a fellow traveler with Sailer and company, eh?

    Anyone who wants to learn more about the non-paranoid reality of Steve Sailer’s white supremacist group can do so right here on the Internet. It is called the Human Biodiversity Insitute. You can also read Sailer at just about any neo-Confederate, scientific racist or anti-immigration site. I don’t know whether Chris Kent is a member of the group or not. Perhaps he is an independent racist.

  • Chris Kent

    Well Mac Diva, I thought the book’s stance was controversial and thought-provoking, which is entirely why I wrote the blog. I am not promoting racism or Sailer and company – whom you are apparently obsessed with far more than me. I am simply commenting on a book which I found to be surprisngly up front and disturbing when dealing with risque subject matter.

    If you notice, I comment mainly on Alim Nassor. I thought his character was the most interesting, the most disturbing and the most tragic. So if supposed white supremacists created him, then it makes the book all the more interesting/unusual. This book has been in print since 1977 for a reason.

    If an event that is portrayed in “Lucifer’s Hammer” actually took place, the battles seen in this book would most likely happen. I wish this were not true. I would love to see everyone hold hands and sing “We Are the World.”

    But ain’t gonna happen Mac Diva. And that is why I thought the book was disturbing and thought-provoking. And I was also trying to point out how such “politically correct” films such as “Deep Impact,” are by nature just as racist/candy coated by skirting important issues.

    At the very least, “Lucifer’s Hammer” treats the end of the world as something more substantial than a fluffy Disney film. Racism, sexism and classism would all rear their ugly heads. They do in “Lucifer’s Hammer,” thus it’s an interesting read.

  • JR

    Chris Kent said: I don’t think “Lucifer’s Hammer” could be termed racist or sexist.

    then

    As I said, it is not a book that would be written in today’s politically correct society…

    Aren’t you implicitly contradicting yourself there? ;-)

    I was a huge fan of Larry Niven growing up; he was always full of clever science related ideas. While I liked the collaborations with Pournelle, I found that the science tended to be watered down and the social aspects to be a bit more conservative. (Niven’s own books had more unorthodox characters and societies.)

    I don’t know much about Jerry Pournelle, I’ve never read one of his own novels; but I get kind of an authoritarian vibe from him. He seems to be at least a “culturalist”, in that he seems to think that certain cultures are “smarter” than others and that those cultures look more like suburban America than urban America. At least that’s the impression I get out of the Niven/Pournelle books (it may be even more evident in Oath of Fealty.)

    Whether or not he’s a racist, I’d be willing to bet Pournelle didn’t grow up listening to bebop.

    BTW, Niven and Pournelle didn’t have to predict the Rodney King riots because they’d already seen the Watts riots. I gather L.A. explodes in race riots about every twenty years.

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    Jerry Pournelle’s reason for inserting his biases in his works is to make those biases more mainstream and respectable. Your goal for posting a ‘review’ that champions the book and racism is exactly the same.

    What will you be reviewing as an example of the way things are next, Chris Kent — The Turner Diaries? David Duke’s My Awakening?

  • Chris Kent

    Agreed JR – but I’ll be damned if I can’t slow down my fingers when trying to angrily reply to Mac Diva’s unusually whimsical ravings….

    Good points all JR, and I do not disagree with them….

  • Chris Kent

    I am starting to realize you did not read my blog at all Mac Diva. You saw the author/novel’s name and let the accusations fly.

    I think my point is a valid one, but I also knew it would irritate some people. I think an obsessively politically correct society is at times just that – obsessive. It was refreshing to read a book that gave a unique perspective. It was not a perspective I necessarily agreed with, but as I’ve have said in past comments (Ayn Rand), one must read different perspectives even if one does not agree with them. I believe that the authors of “Lucifer’s Comet” genuinely attempted to show what would possibly happen if the world came to an end. What they create in this book is not beyond the realm of possibility, and is frankly very disturbing.

    I have noticed Mac Diva that you promote racist websites and books in your posts. You are doing quite a bit to promote things you supposedly detest…..

  • http://www.kalyr.com/weblog Tim Hall

    I always found the books written by Larry Niven on his own to suffer from the fact that he’s not a very good writer: he’s very good at ideas, but has problems with such things as characters and plots, which are kind of important for a good novel. Still, 20+ years ago I found them entertaining at the time, despite their flaws.

    Pournelle is a much better writer; but I dislike the heavy-handed political preaching that pervades his work, a nasty blend of libertarian and authoritarian ideas that I like to call “Anarcho-Fascism”. An example of his ugly end-justifies-the-means callousness is in “King Davids Spaceship” where one of the ‘heroes’ cheerfully murders quite a few completely innocent people just because they might have overheard a secret conversation.

    I didn’t notice any real racism, though. Either it wasn’t there, or it was too subtle and passed over my head.

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    I read the blog entry. (Unfortunately, I have a bad habit of reading everything, including the ingredients on food containers. Thank God I’m a vegetarian or that could be fatal.) What I see in the entry is someone promoting the idea that racism is natural, while pretending not to. We have another Right Winger here at BC we are always smoking out for using that tactic in regard to far Right topics, but he is much better at it than Chris Kent.

    I try not to actually link to racist web sites, particularly blogs. (For example, neither of my blogs have ever linked to David Yeagley, aka Gouda Cheese.) But, in order to refute lies, such as the claim my information about the white supremacist group Pournelle belongs to is “paranoid ramblings,” it is necessary that I provide sources.

    Tom, I think Niven’s Ringworld stuff is okay.

    Hey! It just struck me that Niven’s collaborations with Pournelle stopped about the time Niven’s collaborations with African-American sci-fi writer Steven Barnes began. Perhaps Pournelle asked to see Barnes’ penis.

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    And, let me say in defense of my fellow writers, that most writers, American and otherwise, are not members of extremist groups. It may have something to do with reactionary politics being more common in the blogosphere than elsewhere that a significant number of people promoting Sailer’s groups and others like it have turned up here. It is no more ‘natural’ for writers to be racists than it is to believe that our society will be destroyed by the “red-brown coalition.”

    By the way, 9/11 was the most apocalyptic event on American soil in recent history. It happened in one of our most diverse cities. There was absolutely no evidence of people reverting to savagery or forming opposing groups according to race or ethnicity. Just the opposite occurred. Ditto for the blackouts and snow outs last year and this year. Race war is a fantasy that appeals to some people, not the reality Chris Kent is claiming it is.

  • http://dirtgrain.com/weblog Dirtgrain

    As a kid, I read The Mote in God’s Eye. I found it to be a powerful book about tragic flaws in human nature (well, alien nature, in this case): the tendency towards violence, shortsightedness and self-destructive behavior. Based on the messages in Mote, I can’t see Niven as a racist. But I have yet to read Lucifer’s Hammer.

    Octavia Butler has a lot of risque stuff in her novels, but she is Black. Richard Wright’s Bigger Thomas is a negative representation of an African American in Black Boy. Then, there is always Sweetback. Is Alim Nassor a Sweetback-style character who stands up and fights back? Even if he loses, he could still be a positive character. I’m not too sure about the stereotypes, though. Chris’s description makes the book sound derogatory.

    It’s tough to figure out where to draw the line sometimes. If Lucifer’s Hammer seems plausible, then the negative treatment of African Americans might be overlooked. But if it is an implausible bashing of African American culture, then Diva is right. Add Diva’s claims about Jerry Pournelle, and we would have to rank this book right down there with The Bell Curve.

    “The criticism for “Lucifer’s Hammer” deals with its portrayal of religious leaders and black people as villains. They seek to destroy any form of modern civilization, so that when society is eventually rebuilt, they will have a higher status within it. They are murderous, they are frustrated and they are deadly.”
    That sounds like George Bush and his plans for Iraq. But equating African Americans with George “War President” Bush might not seem like a compliment to African Americans.

    Lastly, are there any radiation-mutated zombies in the book who eat brains or something? I’m somewhat looking forward to this, and I don’t want a big letdown.

  • duane

    Mac Diva says, “9/11 was the most apocalyptic event on American soil in recent history…. There was absolutely no evidence of people reverting to savagery or forming opposing groups according to race or ethnicity.”

    Well, yeah, but we were talking about a novel that depicts something almost unimaginably worse than 9/11. As awful as 9/11 was, it was nothing compared to say, Hiroshima or Dresden. And even in those cases, the survivors did not revert to savagery because the devastation was localized — there was still an “outside world” left. Any disaster that is accompanied by the collapse of government — ALL governments, so the Brits can’t help, for example — the collapse of the entire infrastructure (no more gasoline, no more groceries, no more electricity, no more running water, no one to replace your broken windows, no medical supplies, and on and on, will most assuredly lead to widespread looting, theft of personal property, factionalization, and the establishment of new territorialities. You don’t think so? You are the ultimate optimist. And to say that by discussing such a scenario that we secretly fantasize over it is just plain silly. If I wanted or expected that to happen, I would join a survivalist organization for damn sure, so that I would have some chance of surviving. As it is, I would be toast. I like civilization. I like ice in my Coke and microwave ovens and old movies on TV and the occasional good post-apocalyptic novel.

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    But why think the savagery, if it occurred, would stem from race, Duane? That is where Pournelle’s grounding in the eugenicist movement is obvious. He believes blacks are already ‘naturally violent,’ so making African-Americans the most savage seems right to him. Duane, wake up and read. I didn’t say most people fantasize over race war. Just the opposite. I believe people in the eugenicist movement do. All those copies of The Turner Diaries don’t fly off the shelf for nuthin.’

    I am not urging people not to read the book. I’ve read it and plenty of Niven. What I am cautioning against is having the ‘racism is natural and okay” wool pulled over our eyes because it is masked in the works of a writer, whether he be Pournelle or Jack London.

    Dirt, Octavia Butler rocks. I believe her post-apocalyptic world in the Parable series is probably closer to home. All kinds of aspects of human nature come to the fore, but racism is hardly the most significant. Charles Murray, as you practically guessed, is also a member of the Human Biodiversity Institute. (I have a membership list, but it needs to be updated.)

    I should have but haven’t written reviews of William Dietz’ two-year old series about an alien invaded Earth. It does the opposite of Pournelle’s thing. The aliens, who are themselves racists, exploit racial divisions on Earth. There is also a human white supremacist group Chris Kent would feel comfortable in. It kills both nonwhites and aliens. But, the majority of humans transcend their differences and, with the support of a small group of disaffected aliens, eventually free themselves from slavery imposed by the extraterrestials. The first book is Death Day. Highly recommended.

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    Furthermore, Duane, I am only silly when I want to be-:).

  • duane

    MacD, when I say that something you’ve said is silly, I mean it in the nicest possible way, of course.

    I imagine that savagery would be equally distributed among all races. If I went down to the local supermarket the day after the Hammer hit to stock up on Campbell’s soup and DelMonte peaches, there would be little left. Yes, in my quiet little town, which is fairly integrated, I would find the shelves mostly stripped. Aha! Some instant oatmeal! I grab it, turn around, and Bob the burly bike mechanic punches me in the throat and grabs the oatmeal. Doesn’t matter his race. It would happen. He will find that the need to feed his family will supersede any considerations of “right.”

    I imagine factionalization would occur — at first — along geographic lines, owing to the problems with transportation. Those with firepower will be in charge. Any benevolent types who attempt to organize a “civilized” mini-society will find few takers unless they can promise the reliable provisions of food and shelter. Unfortunately, food and shelter will be under the control of those who exercise the requisite brutality. As far as race, I don’t think that will come into play at first, other than the geographical consideration. So, to that extent, I agree with you MacD.

  • Eric Olsen

    Chris, we have to check your IP: go to whatisyourip.com then let me know what it is and I will make sure it is clear. Phillip says they can get confused in big systems like AOL.

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    That’s okay, Duane. I allow my blog friends to take liberties-:).

    I was going through books to resell at Powell’s and decided the Niven book I read last week is discardable. It is novella length stories about the Man-Kzin Wars. I bought it because I like the Kzin. (Talkin’ ’bout pussy cats.) The weakest story is by Niven himself. It was written only a lttile over year ago. Maybe he is losing his touch.

  • http://www.viewpointjournal.com David Flanagan

    I’ve read Lucifer’s Hammer and I did like the book. I think part of its problem in regards to race and gender stems from the fact that it was written in the 70s. We’ve come a ways since Niven wrote this book.

    One of the best post-apocalyptic books I’ve read is “The Postman,” by David Brin. Its the one that Kevin Kostner butchered when he tried to remake it into his own vision of the future for the movie of the same name starring himself. The book is actually worlds beyond the movie, though, if the SciFi channel ever took it up, I bet they could do a credible job.

    “The Postman” is definitely a page turner and a great exploration around humanities’ strengths and weaknesses, as well as the societal need for a shared vision of the future. I recommend this book and the book “Earth Abides,” by George Stewart.

    Thanks.

    David Flanagan

  • Chris Kent

    Mac Diva – first let me say that I am not a racist nor am I promoting racism. All of your posts, and not just in this blog, have a tendency to jump the gun, to antagonize for the fun of it. That’s ok, that is your right.

    I do not think “Lucifer’s Hammer” is a classic, nor do I think the book when read, will cause people to join white supremacists groups. I did find it’s portrayal of race wars after the destruction of civilization to be disturbing. I was uncomfortably reminded of the horrible images of the Rodney King/LA riots. I was also uncomfortably reminded of the panicked reaction after 911, in which airports were closed down, terrorists supposedly on every corner, gas prices going up instantly, people running to the stores to stock up on groceries, people leaving work, running home, going to schools to find their children. There was a genuine panic that day – much like the panic in the book immediately after the comet strikes. There was a resemblance in my mind.

    As noted in my blog, I went to a multicultural school, where people bonded in the halls, on field trips, in the cafeteria by race, by culture and by status. I was reminded of this when reading “Lucifer’s Hammer.” I genuinely believe that some form of what happens in “Lucifer’s Hammer” would likely happen. Maybe not. It makes for a good argument.

    I thought Alim Nassor was a cliche in many ways, but a type of man like him does exist, just as white supremacists unfortunately exist. Of all the people in “Lucifer’s Hammer,” he has the odds stacked against him the most, just as they are in today’s society. Thus, I found him to be in many ways the most heroic character, and the most tragic. He has no choice but to pillage, because he had no property to begin with.

    It is a fascinating book, and I think it’s resolution and action is absolutely left open to interpretation. Which is exactly what we are doing.

    This book disturbed me in many ways, but only because it could possibly be true.

    David, I too have read “Earth Abides” by Stewart and think it is an excellent recommendation. I still argue that while “Lucifer’s Hammer” is most certainly dated, is it dated because we live in a more politically correct society, or is it dated because what happens in the book is not believable?

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    Well, if what you say about your beliefs is true, that is a good thing, Chris Kent.

    I’ve gotten two ideas for blog entries from this thread. One is a roundup review of apocalyptic sci-fi novels. Some of the other sci-fi readers on the thread might want to do that, as well. The other is a blog entry on why I ‘read like a guy.’ Whenever I get into sci-fi discussions with women readers or writers that always comes up. There is a belief that fantasy is for women and sci-fi, particularly hard science sci-fi, is for men. I’ve always read mainly sci-fi when it comes to non-literary fiction.

  • http://dirtgrain.com/weblog Dirtgrain

    Jonathan just linked the article, Life After The Oil Crash, which is about the devastation of the impending energy crisis, on Hal’s post, The Myth of the Hydrogen Economy. We don’t need a meteor to bring about a realization of Lucifer’s Hammer.

  • Chris Kent

    Good stuff and scary!!!

    I am going to tell my parents to hold on to that remote lake house in east Texas…..

  • http://www.kalyr.com/weblog Tim Hall

    That “Oil Peak” site sounds just a little bit Wingnutty to me. I’m suspicious of anyone that takes George Moonbat too seriously.

    Of course, we are going to run out of oil eventually. But I’m optimistic enough to think that we’ll both develop alternative energy sources and use our existing resources more efficiently before our oil based economies collapse completely. We probably do need to start thinking about these things now.

  • Chris Kent

    Good point Tim.

    The great book “Earth Abides” by George Stewart was noted in an earlier comment by David Flanagan. In that novel, the idea of such pressing concerns (following an apocalyptic virus) is termed simply, “One does not fix the roof until it starts raining.”

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    I dunno, Tom. Think of how easy it was for the Northeast blackout to occur. Yes, I no it didn’t last that long. But, if the companies involved in oil drilling and delivery are just as inept, we could have oil crises in parts of the country even before fossil fuels reserves are stripped bare — which I think will happen, eventually. Would that result in meltdowns among the populace? Probably not fully, but some abuses, such as hoarding and looting would occur.

  • http://www.jabpage.org/ Jerry Abbott

    MAC DIVA: “Jerry Pournelle is a member of the white supremacist group run by longterm ‘scientific racist’ Steve Sailer. A basic tenet of their belief system is that black people are a subspecies that is inherently stupid and violent.”

    Blacks are a race with a statistically provable lower intelligence and higher predisposition for violence, as compared with Whites. Doubt me? I’ll show you that it is so. I don’t know whether Jerry Pournelle is also a racist, as you say. But I certainly am. You may engage me in a round of mutual debate and criticism, if you please.

    MAC DIVA: “Their [Pournelle and Sailer] main ‘scientific’ source is long discredited psychologist J. Phillip Rushton.”

    J. Philippe Rushton (note the correct spelling of his middle name) is a professor of psychology at the University of Western Ontario. He is not “discredited.” Anti-racist idiots only go around saying that he has been, hoping that enough repetition will make it come true.

    MAC DIVA: “He is best known for his practice of polling minority men about the sizes of their penises in shopping malls.”

    He is best known for his book RACE, EVOLUTION AND BEHAVIOR, which reveals facts about human racial differences that liberals wish had remained unknown or hidden. You will find a summary at

    http://www.harbornet.com/folks/theedrich/JP_Rushton/Race.htm

    MAC DIVA: “Material these people write, including ‘journalism’ inevitably adheres to the racism that is so important to them.”

    Actually, that’s backwards. The cheating, lying history-falsifying ignoramouses are the liberals who go to any length to deny facts about race and about genetic heritability, so that their precious, unsupportable, incorrect theory of human equality can garner a semblance of respectability. Liberal forum moderators don’t tolerate racists because they know that in a free debate the racist will usually win.

    CHRIS KENT: God, I should have known I would have to be subjected to Mac Diva’s paranoid ramblings. I don’t think “Lucifer’s Hammer” could be termed racist or sexist. I think it does attempt to show a world forced back into a more primitive age, and it shows how many resort to primitive means to survive.

    Hi Chris, that’s exactly where the racism is: in the way people would have to behave to survive with civilization’s wealth and mitigating comforts are stripped away. Racism is natural for primate species, including man. Read Jane Goodall’s book THE CHIMPANZEES OF GOMBE to see documented racism in chimps. Anyone who ~would not~ be a racist after a fall of civilization would find himself murdered and expropriated by his racially conscious foes in short order.

    MAC DIVA: “Oh, a fellow traveler with Sailer and company, eh?”

    That’s exactly the kind of asinine guilt by association that made a racist of me in 1995. Back then I was a liberal, but an honest one. I came upon a debate in an MSN chatroom where I was called on to support some Jewish liberals on racial questions. They invited me to lend my voice in affirmation on questions whose answers I truly did not know. When I refused to chime in on demand, they turned on me and called me a racist. And that’s when the scales fell from my eyes, so to speak.

    MAC DIVA: “Anyone who wants to learn more about the non-paranoid reality of Steve Sailer’s white supremacist group can do so right here on the Internet. It is called the Human Biodiversity Insitute.”

    I first heard of Steve Sailer in an Amazon.com book review of THE HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY OF HUMAN GENES by Cavali-Sforza et al. He’s a sensible fellow.

    MAC DIVA: “Jerry Pournelle’s reason for inserting his biases in his works is to make those biases more mainstream and respectable. Your goal for posting a ‘review’ that champions the book and racism is exactly the same.”

    The real culprit for that sort of dishonest credit-snarfing is the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai Brith. You’ll never find a group that can more deftly mix truth with strategic lies. But what Jerry Pournelle probably did was embed some well-established scientific facts about race in a science-fiction book. You might as well criticize Heinlein for his discussion of celestial mechanics in THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS or in THE ROLLING STONES.

    MAC DIVA: “What will you be reviewing as an example of the way things are next, Chris Kent — The Turner Diaries? David Duke’s My Awakening?”

    Both excellent books. Both can be bought from National Vanguard Books, where I was an editor for a while. The Turner Diaries is an example of war fiction, a genre with a great many other literary works. The Jews don’t like the book because, in the story, the White people win.

    JR: “BTW, Niven and Pournelle didn’t have to predict the Rodney King riots because they’d already seen the Watts riots. I gather L.A. explodes in race riots about every twenty years.”

    Hi, JR. When was the last time you saw 300 WHITE people slam through a city, committing arson, rape, assault, murder, looting, and vandalism everywhere they went? I bet it’s been quite a while. Whether it’s Los Angeles, or Seattle, or Cincinnati, or Benton Harbor, or anywhere else, the rioters are predominantly or entirely BLACK.

    CHRIS KENT: “I am starting to realize you did not read my blog at all Mac Diva. You saw the author/novel’s name and let the accusations fly.”

    That’s what they do, Chris. I’ve seen this sort of thing over and over from people like Mac Diva. They incorrectly believe that their opinions are true, and they incorrectly believe that they hold the moral high ground. And it makes them feel good to demonstrate their “rightness” (ignorance) and “nobility” (arrogance) by slamming somebody else over a trifling deviation from political correctness.

    A minority among liberals, the honest few, have made the epistemological mistake of trying to reason the facts of existence by way of their moral sense. That doesn’t work because nature, which had the largest role in determining the facts of existence, has never been compelled to be “nice” or “fair.”

    Moral sense tells you what you should DO about the facts, once your senses and your rational mind have made you aware of what those facts are, of what you’re up against. But anyone who tries to posit racial equality because racial inequality would be unjust, or unfair, or non-nice, runs smack against a hard fact of life.

    Races differ. They have always differed. J. Philippe Rushton observed and quantified some of the differences. And the leftists have never forgiven him for that.

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    I believe that anyone who is interested in Jerry Abbott‘s beliefs should visit his weblog. Once there, don’t miss the link to Jerry’s Aryan Battle Page, where he appears butt naked praying to Odin. (Just kidding.) It is actually a list of his personal heroes, including the founder of the Ku Klux Klan. And, you might want to peek at Jerry’s homage to Hitler, which includes a republication of Mein Kampf. Still not having fun yet? Surely the White Poetry page will solve that. The site is so unintentionally amusing it is hard to believe that it is not a parody of racists.

    I’m sure there are a few people at Blogcritics who will embrace Jerry Abbott’s blatant racism wholeheartedly. I am also sure that most will be repelled by it.

    Phillipe Rushton, the pseudo-scientist Jerry is so deeply attracted to, has been censured by the American Psychological Association. Furthermore, he has no educational background in any area related to genetics. His ‘work’ — mainly the obsessive examination of men’s penises I refer to above — is not taken seriously by anyone other than fellow ‘scientific’ racists. Rushton’s claim that penis size correlates with intelligence is so laughable as not to be dwelt on beyond mentioning. His papers are considered unpublishable. But for a desperate need to have a ‘scientist’ they can cite, even the ‘scientific’ racists would have no use for him. For a discussion of the work of Ashley Montagu, a real honest to goodness expert on genetics who dismisses crackpots like Rushton, go here.

    Obviously, Jerry Abbott is a fool. So, why did I suggest interested persons look at the garbage collection he has posted to the Web? So that people can see for themselves. There is so much denial of racism in the blogosphere. An antidote to that may be having people look it directly in the face sometimes.

    With most of the leaders of their movement either dead or in jail, Jerry Abbott and other racists are suffering the doldrums. Their misanthropy alone can not fuel the ‘white revolution’ they seek. Here’s hoping their unhappininess lasts forever.

  • Chris Kent

    Interesting comments Jerry and MD and thank you. Lucifer’s Hammer is an old book, having first been published in the 1970s. I picked it up at the half-price book store and read it on a lark. Having grown up in a culturally diverse neighborhood and graduated from a culturally diverse high school, the book struck a lot of chords in me and so I wrote the blog.

    If our planet suffers from a similar trauma as seen in this book, the only truly successful tribe will be the one that embraces all cultures. A world that separates into tribes based on race and social status is a primitive world. Comet or no comet, we have a long way to go.

  • JR

    When was the last time you saw 300 WHITE people slam through a city, committing arson, rape, assault, murder, looting, and vandalism everywhere they went?

    9-10 November 1938

  • http://home.comcast.net/~earthenewfrontier/ Mitch Taylor

    Having read many of the EOW books listed in this blog, I have to recommend yet another really great post-apocalyptic novel:

    Earth the New Frontier!
    This isa new book with some unbelievable chops. If you liked Lucifer’s Hammer then you are going to love Earth the New Frontier. This book is well written, cuts right to the point, and does a fantastic job of dropping you right into the middle of a battered planet where the survivors scramble to stay alive. This is the story of ordinary people under extraordinaty circumstances.

    Mitch Taylor
    Aardvark’s Book Reviews

  • http:macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    I read this thread again because someone had posted a new comment. In looking at it, I can see how annoyed I was by someone posting an entry promoting ‘scientific racist’ Jerry Pournelle soon after the infamous visit of David Yeagley to Blogcritics. (The writer of the entry was apparently unaware of that situation.) Still, I have read Lucifer’s Hammer and other Pournelle myself. I would not discourage people from reading him, but would urge them to keep in mind he has an agenda.

  • Book Adams

    Watching the looting after Hurricane Katrina proves that some of the preceding posters [Duane] were right about human nature…

  • Recent reader

    The original poster’s assertion that there are not even any token black characters on the side of good is incorrect. The OP seems to have forgotten one major and several minor black characters in Lucifer’s Hammer:

    SPOILER ALERT

    A crucial speech is given in one of the last scenes of the book by the black astronaut. He is the one who, after white protaganist Harvey Randall’s pleas to save the Nuke plant are rejected by the rest of the Stronghold’s leaders, inspires the crowd to “sieze the lightning” so that civilization can return.

    Just prior to that scene, Harvey Handall brought two black police officers to the Stronghold after they had been wounded in the second attack on the power plant.

    There are other references to black heroes in the book that a casual review are likely to miss, but it is unfair to ignore them in order to assert a charge or racism.

  • Daniel

    But why think the savagery, if it occurred, would stem from race, Duane? That is where Pournelle’s grounding in the eugenicist movement is obvious. He believes blacks are already ‘naturally violent,’ so making African-Americans the most savage seems right to him. Duane, wake up and read. I didn’t say most people fantasize over race war. Just the opposite. I believe people in the eugenicist movement do. All those copies of The Turner Diaries don’t fly off the shelf for nuthin.’ – Mac Diva

    I disagree MD, I just finished reading the book and found it very engrossing. I enjoyed its ability to get me thinking about such a situation.

    Anyway, my own idea on why certain groups resorted to savagery was due to their class and upbringing. Alim Nassor is a product of an urban environment, most of his friends were. Hooker and his gang were also urban people. In fact the book only mentions two blacks who had any land skills at all.

    It’s no wonder they resorted to pillaging and cannibalism, simply because they had no other short term options. Jellison’s settlement had skills, as shown in the last pages of the book.

    And the cannibals were a very mixed bunch of people and not confined to one race.

    I don’t live in America, but is it true to state that the majority of farmers/land owners are white, just like the book illustrates?

  • Andre

    I wonder if the reviewer (Chris) had any idea that the US would have a coloured President within a couple of years when he wrote the last paragraph? Things change.

  • The Dude

    I just read LH and personally did not feel the book was racist. I felt it accurately portrayed racial tensions in such an event in the 70s. One not need look further than katrina to see how race plays into survival situation. Alim was one of the least (initially at least) just black characters of this book and should not be used as the example of black people in LH. He was also the most disadvantaged main character of the book. he was a criminal who did not have anything of value. He resorted to grouping with a vicious white evangelical (armitage) survive. He did not give in to temptations that other white characters did. In many ways he was more just than many of the white characters. White people were much more brutal than black people in my opinion and to call the writer and book racists for portraying some black people in a somewhat negative light while overlooking the autrocities commuted by whites is at least unfair. The book was antireligous maybe. End of days not fulfilled, no redeeming religious characters, religion not part of any positive character’s life, no churches afertward, religious nuts cause death, relgious characters are cannibals, religion being used as a tool to convince others to behave immorally. Though I am not surprised most sci fi readers would care as they are generally liberal atheists. Which is why so many bad mouth the Book of Eli.

    Spoilers
    Some bad white guys:
    White bikers (killed by alim’s group) staked out homes who prepped for the comet and murdered their inhabitants on their way to raping underage girl scouts to literal death. By far worse than anything Alim did. In fact it was the opposite as he protected fellow black women from being raped.

    A white rapists, Larsen. fresh out of jail stalks a women he later rapes with a knife.

    Armitage and his cannibalistic followers

    The white groups savagely beating to death armitages followers immediately after the comet

    Gordie, who was going to kill himself in front of his son before the comet hit, is a boy scout leader who leaves wife for underage girl scout he saved from the bikers.

    Any white man who is married, even the main heroes of this book, cheat on their wives prior to the comet.

    Some Good black guys:
    The mayor of LA, Allen, who despite previous mayors working with gangs to control the ghettos and profit off of racial tensions, choose not to work with those groups and was the only organized police force (which included African Americans) that protected it’s civilians during and after the event.

    Rick, the first black astronaut in space, who’s final speech moved the primarily white farmers to keep fighting for progress. Viewed as a hero by them for his efforts in space and back on earth. Pretty much the only character who didn’t cheat on his spouse.

    Black officers who stayed with Allen while being attacked by cannibals to save the power plant only to be injured for their efforts.

    Black farmer and his wife who were offering their expertise to keep Alim’s group alive once they found land.

    Alim post event. Led his group to survive. Wanted to find a piece of land they could farm and survive. Only paired with Armitage out of force. Horrible human being prior the event but I felt that was commentary about circumstances. His environment led him to act that way. Once out of that environment he was rather noble. Didn’t reject Armitage out of fear, not want. His character progressed ethically while nearly every other civilized white character’s ethics regressed. Which was a major theme of this book “A civilization has the ethics it can afford”.

    Great book if you can look past your own prism of trying to find political in correctness in everything.