Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Reading, Read

Just finished reading Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.  I downloaded it from http://www.baenebooks.com/ in the Sony Reader "lrf" format.

So it's 35 years old, and I couldn't help thinking how out of date it is.  A comet impact would still have much the same effect on civilization today as it would have when this was written, of course, but...  The Soviet Union is gone, there is no Skylab, no chance of a "spare" Skylab, no "spare" Apollo capsules...

...Yes, the International Space Station would certainly serve as a platform for observation of a comet, although the higher occupancy would make a difference in the book.  There's also the question of what the ISS has for escape pods.  (I think they use Soyuz capsule, in fact, which is what they wound up using in the novel...)

The biggest change since the book was written, however, at least that would make a difference, is in the field of Prepping.  In 1977 "survivalism" was the realm of whackos and weirdos and conspiracy theorists.  No shortage of those in the prepper community these days, of course, but nowadays, instead of being thought odd for stocking up on food--or putting together a vanload of jerky--your neighbors would be engaging you in a debate about the best method of making jerky, and swapping URLs for sources of long-term storage food. 
  • As an aside, my father read this when I left the paperback laying around and said it was the first science fiction book he enjoyed.
  • I do keep wondering why they couldn't have kept "wizard" Dan Alderson alive through the winter.  One sheep a month...
  • Note to self:  Pick up set of "How Things Work"...

Footfall by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.  Likewise a Sony Reader format download.
Just getting started on e-reading this.  Again, the world has changed in the 27 years since publication.

Apparently, this is the novel that Niven and Pournelle pitched when they got the contract for Lucifer's Hammer--the editor didn't want "another alien invasion story", but was intrigued by the description of using meteoroids or comets as weapons.  Local fannish lore says that Niven and Pournelle were inspired to destroy Bellingham, WA, while serving as C-Guests of Honor at a VikingCon, the SF convention held at Western Washington University, although some point out that Dr Pournelle lived in Washington for a time, and had some hard feelings, exact nature unspecified.  (Not like anyone ever accused the man of having no opinions...)

The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown: A Novel by Paul Malmont.  (Sequel to The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril: A Novel)
In the Chinatown Death Cloud Peril, there's this somewhat minor character whose real name we learn late in the book is Heinlein. (Yes, I figured it out early on.  Such a geek...)  In AAU, it is several years later, WWII, and RAH is working at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, along with L. Sprague de Camp and Issac Asimov.  Lafayette Ronald Hubbard plays a part.  Mysteries are investigated.  Adventures are had.  Inside (fannish) jokes are made...

These I read in hardcover, courtesy the King County Library.  Recommended for fans of science fiction and the pulps, and especially for fans of RAH.

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