YMMV / Lucifer's Hammer

  • Fair for Its Day / Unintentional Period Piece: While it has a load of Unfortunate Implications to a modern (2016) reader, the book was written in 1977, when both the United States and the world looked quite different. Partial list:
    • The California is a Republican post-Vietnam California (historically 67% white, voted for Reagan over Carter 52-36). Hence the rock-ribbed conservative Senator Arthur Jellison and more focus on hippies than the Latino population.
    • China is an afterthought that winds up being nuked by both the USSR and United States after an unprovoked nuclear attack on the former. The People's Republic of China was only diplomatically recognized by the US in 1979 and broadly distrusted by both the Soviets (who they had fought border skirmishes with) and Americans.
    • With the exception of a (very big deal in-universe) black astronaut, most African-American characters talk Jive Turkey, are bad guys from the city, and are overtly racist. US racial politics and urban crime in the 1970s weren't exactly good...
    • There are few named female characters and at best they rise to technical supporting roles and sleep with male characters.
    • Environmentalists in general and anti-nuke activists in particular are roundly disparaged. The book predates Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, which radically changed American popular attitudes on nuclear power.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: at the very end; the heroes successfully defend the last operational nuclear power plant in the world from the cannibal environmentalist fundies(at the cost of their Gadgeteer Genius - he was diabetic, but chose to make mustard gas to kill the cannibals instead of insulin), but it would only take one lucky mortar shot to destroy the plant, and the only way to keep that from happening is to hunt down the fundies and either take all their weapons or kill them all. To save civilization, they have to fight The War on Terror, and be willing to commit genocide if their enemies refuse to surrender.
  • Science Marches On: The novel in general holds up well due to painstaking research and work on the physics. However, the otherwise exhaustive discussion of comet impact consequences is missing a nasty feature that only was identified with modern supercomputers. In addition to enormous amounts of vaporized water, large comet impacts are now believed to throw enormous amounts of vaporized rock into the atmosphere, which then reenter in an atmospheric heating firestorm.
    • Another recently theorized effect is the wake radiation from the massive quantity of ionized material in a large impactor (and impact) could create a strong EMP effect, which would render the focus on the nuclear plant rather moot.
    • The tsunami depiction as a giant (surfable!) wave, is debatable. On the one hand, the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami or 2011 Fukushima Tsunami did not look like that. On the other, this event is magnitudes more energetic than even a 9.0 earthquake (~ 475 megatons versus probably millions for the bigger Hammer pieces) and distributed differently.
    • The comet journey is begun by a version of what became the Nemesis hypothesis in 1984. This idea has taken a number of hits over the years and probably isn't correct.
    • In a remarkable aversion, the depiction of the comet strike as many smaller bodies is exactly what was seen with Shoemaker-Levy 9 on Jupiter, and what a reanalysis of 1883 observations implies the Earth very narrowly avoided.