Forget all previous sensurround calamities--they're piddling mini-disasters compared to Lucifer's Hammer, the huge comet that collides with Earth, crushing civilization and inaugurating a new ice age. Among the casualties. . . a TV film-maker's dreams of leaving his technology-dependent wife are horribly realized as the status quo crumbles under massive tidal waves and seismic upheavals and he finds himself leading a band of youthful warriors, struggling for power in a new feudal society. A crusty US Senator's ranch becomes a stronghold against roving armies of cannibals and religious fanatics as he undertakes to build a new civilization. His daughter, once a Washington society princess, becomes a real fairy-tale princess with three suitors--but do they really love her, or are they seeking to succeed her father? Bikers, farmers, fundamentalist Christians, black militants escaping from flooded lowland cities, army deserters--all explode in a desperate struggle for the precious arable land in the high valleys of central California. Niven and Pournelle, authors of highly popular science fiction epics of future cultures (The Mote In God's Eye; Inferno) here employ their large-scale vision, imaginative detail-work, and techno/scientific savvy to create a believable scenario. The writing, sadly, is clumsy: sprawling and ponderous, weighted down with banal, extraneous chit-chat and simplistic politics. And yet--having fired all those critical shots, there it is, still coming at you, a great, mangy lumbering bear of a novel. literati will scoff, but partisans of apocalypse and everyone who has ever wondered, ""Could I survive, if. . . ?"" will find this irresistible.