Copyright 1980 by
I most recently read this on the 12th November 2002.
A giant asteroid, Shiva, is approaching the Earth. Along with it is a whole cloud
of big and small rocks. These have already started hitting, demolishing cities
around the world. The USA struggles desperately to mount a last-chance mission
to demolish it. The favoured plan is to detonate a stack of nuclear weapons
next to Shiva's surface, to divert it away from its lethal path.
Faced with a near-inevitable end of the world, people give themselves over to
extremist religions, escape through suicide or simply indulge in hedonistic
orgies (tough choice, hold on a minute, which one would I go for?). While the
country and indeed the world goes to
hell in a handbasket,
bands of deranged religious fanatics swarm across America, destroying space facilities
and technology in general. The economy grinds to a halt and the President's playing
banjo in the White House. Against all this the army and the National Guard
struggle to defend the Earth-based facilities that will support the spacecraft as
they attempt to complete their mission.
We follow a host of characters as they play their parts in this desperate adventure.
As Mr Benford points out in his 1991 Afterword, during the '70s there were
a rash of what his friend Larry Niven called "Big Rock Hits Earth" novels.
This is another one, in response to an eventually-aborted film deal. To think
this could have been "Armageddon". That's an interesting thought.
It was good read as a near-future disaster thriller, but doesn't hold a candle to
Niven and Pournelle's "Lucifer's Hammer".
Loaded on the 30th November 2002.