Top positive review
Living Up To The Hype
Reviewed in the United States on June 5, 2014
I read "Lucifer's Hammer" when I was a kid. I grew up the youngest in a household of avid readers and so was a pretty precocious reader, picking up whatever books my parents and older siblings brought into the house for their own reading. So I was pretty young when I read "Hammer." I'm sure I missed a lot of its subtleties because of my age. But I do remember I liked it a lot. It seemed my dad must have had an interest in apocalyptic fiction, because I remember reading a few of those and found them fascinating. Stephen King's "The Stand" held the top honor of favorite book until "The World According To Garp" came along.
Anyway, when browsing some group messages on Goodreads I first saw mention of "Mote" and, recognizing the authors names from "Hammer," decided to take a look. The rather legendary recommendation from Robert Heinlein kind of sealed the deal.
During the reading of the book, I read more people's thoughts on it, and found everything from best ever to cheesy and outdated. The reviews that called it outdated annoyed me more than deterred me. The book was written in the early 1970s, so allowances must be made. Do you hold it against Moby Dick that they don't have iPhones? So, yeah, the book is dated. Big deal. The message contained in it far outweighs the drawbacks. The story takes place about a thousand years from now, and it frequently mentions the characters using their "pocket computers." In 1972 or so, the authors prognosticated this as being cutting edge tech. I found this amusing, as a mere 40 or so years after its publication, I was reading it on MY "pocket computer," a Kindle Fire. Some reviewers found it sexist that there was only one female human character, and she was very outdated due to her beliefs (the "good girls don't need birth control" comment was often cited). Well, in the early 1970s, lots of women felt that way, especially daughters of senators, which she was. The only gripe from other readers that I agreed with fully was the Scottish guy, who was a carbon copy of Scotty from "Star Trek," complete with corny accent and nearly identical dialog ("I kenna DO it, Captain!") It seemed a stretch since the characters from other nationalities, the Russians for example, didn't have attempts made to imitate their accents.
So much for the negatives. In my opinion the pros of this book so far outweigh the cons there's really almost no reason to bother, but I want to be fair.
So the basic story, and I don't want to give too much away (read: MINOR SPOILER ALERT), is about the human empire's, which is intergalactic at this point, first contact with an intelligent life form. I found the storytelling of this book masterful. The authors tell a story about how amazing First Contact might be. But the authors plant very tiny seeds, which germinate slowly while you read, that all might not be as well as it seems. It just have me creepy chills as I read, that things rarely go so well without SOMETHING going wrong. It was almost a "Star Trek" meets "Jurassic Park" scenario. If that seems an out-there analogy, consider that most of Michael Crichton's books were about mankind's constant arrogant blunders into disaster by repeatedly failing to consider all possible outcomes and assuming that we can control every aspect of our environments. That's all I'll say on the matter of the storyline.
So, overall impression is that it is worth the read both for the story itself, which is fascinating, and especially for the way the tale is told. It's a well-crafted book.