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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

Shiva Descending

Copyright 1980 by Gregory Benford and William Rotsler

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Good (2/5)

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.
Cover of Shiva Descending

Reviews of other work by Gregory Benford
Great Sky River
The Martian Race
Beyond Infinity