Synopsis: A comet hits Earth, post-apocalyptic survivalism ensues
Brief Book Review: /sigh
I’m going to get a bit off track here. I’ve long felt that all fiction is contemporary. Sci-fi is ostensibly about the future, but really it’s just a way of examining current issues under a different lens. You can often get a feel for what decade a SF/F book was written as you’re reading it. And for that reason, fiction really doesn’t age well. I think it can be “good for its time” and respected as laying the foundations of what we have today, but it’s often not good by current standards. Much like the Founding Fathers. It’s one of the reasons I dislike and distrust “Top 100 xxx of All Time” lists. They often list things that were influential or foundational, but not actually good.
Lucifer’s Hammer often makes these lists, and the people who read it when it was published (the 70s) say it was great. But this book is crap. Sci Fi has always had its progressive side (which it’s known for) on the one hand, and it’s old boys club (who are well-known) on the other. This is very much an old-boys-club book. The white male characters (and the only ones who matter are white males) are all entitled full-of-themselves pricks who are absolutely insufferable to read. The book is sexist – women are primarily valuable for their baby-making ability and should stick with that. The men take care of running society. It’s also racist – the black people are animalistic cannibals, who are organized and led by a white man (of course). The one good black person only associates with other white people. The douche-baggery drips from every page. I abandoned it before reaching the end.
If that wasn’t enough, the writing is flat. None of the imagery is evocative. Somehow they even managed to make a comet smashing into the earth boring. And it wasn’t until literally 1/3rd of the way through the book that the comet actually hit. It was like being forced to sit through hours of Real Housewives of New Jersey to get to Armageddon. Except comparing this book to Armageddon would be an insult to Armageddon. Vigorously Not Recommended.
Book Club Review: It’s actually not awful as a book club book. There’s a lot to be said about seeing how far we’ve come as a society. About reading what was considered “normal” and discussing the casual sexism and racism of that era. (Incidentally, I couldn’t read this book for the same reason I can’t watch Mad Men, I don’t need that kind of blood-pressure spike. People who can stomach that, in the interest of historical perspective, hated it less than I did.) The insight that fiction brings into how people of a certain age thought is hard to understate. And let’s be honest – it’s always fun to rip on bigots for a while. So I can’t say this book is a complete loss. If that is the sort of thing you want to discuss, this book would be perfect. However to me that feels like more of a directed study than a club activity. It would feel much more appropriate for a gender-studies or racial-studies class, than for a casual reading-SF/F-for-pleasure group. So – Not Recommended, but with less vigor.