I am currently reading Lucifer’s Hammer and I definitely find it fascinating. I am usually turned off by disaster stories because there always seems to be a resolution where everything goes back to the way it was with very little if any change. This book is definitely not that at all. If anything this is one of the most realistic ‘future’ views of such a disaster. A comet (or similar body) striking earth is most definitely a real scenario civilization may have to face at anytime.
The book was published in 1977, so the technology has changed and the space programs of the various nations have moved on. The questions I began to pose to myself were many. What would be different if Lucifer’s Hammer were to descend on Earth today? Are we better prepared today than we were in 1977 when the book was first published? Could humanity and civilization survive better now than then?
Firstly, my thoughts would say we would not only have earlier warning of such an event but a better idea of whether or not such an object would hit us. I know that even those who track asteroids and comets admit they could miss something, I figure the comet described here would be large enough not to be missed. With the ability to computer model such events, I think we would not only have a pretty good idea about if it would hit us, but we also would have a good idea of when and how.
Secondly, my thoughts turn to human response to this event. This is where I get a little worried. How exactly do you stop a comet from hitting the Earth especially one with multiple heads like a hydra of destruction? Nukes? I don’t know just cracking it into multiple pieces may actually compound the problem further. Honestly, I am not sure if a comet is big enough that we can do much about it.
Third, the aftermath of such an event gives me worries. If someone were to ask: are you a prepper? I would answer: Yes to a point. I am very prepared, as much as possible, from a mental point of view of what would be involved in surviving. Most of it involves the realization that you cannot survive alone, you’re going to need a community dedicated to the thought of reviving civilization. You can have all the stuff, but eventually that is going to run out and your going to have to rebuild society or build a new one.
One of the things that causes me concern here is how much more dependent we are on civilization for everything. Trust me, I see this every day as I stock shelves at Wal-mart. My most conservative guess is that is civilization went belly up, 95% of people would have absolutely no clue or personal knowledge of what to do. How do you get food? You go to Wal-mart. If you need something? Go to Wal-mart. If you are sick? Go to the doctor. One thing America has created is a large dependent class and these people have absolutely know clue as to what to do if the government checks stop arriving in the mail. I can realistically see them sitting at home and starving to death waiting for government intervention.
In the book, one scientist decries how little people understood about how things work and where things come from. I would say this has become even more acute since its writing not just in terms of addition, but multiplication. We know a lot more things but we have become ignorant of a whole bunch more. It seems every time we gain new knowledge we discard some of the old and that may be a bad move.
Once I am finished with the book I plan on writing a review that may prove interesting. In the meantime, I pose a question: What would happen in the Lucifer’s Hammer scenario today?