Open main menu

The Hammer of God is a science fiction novel by Arthur C. Clarke originally published in 1993. It deals with an asteroid named Kali headed toward Earth. Captain Robert Singh of the spacecraft Goliath is sent to deflect it. Kali is discovered by Dr. Angus Miller, an amateur astronomer on the planet Mars.

The Hammer of God
First edition (UK)
AuthorArthur C. Clarke
Cover artistPeter Mennim
CountryGreat Britain
GenreScience fiction
PublisherVictor Gollancz Ltd (UK)
Bantam Spectra (US)
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages226 pp
823/.914 20
LC ClassPR6005.L36 H36 1993

Plot summaryEdit

The action of the novel takes place primarily in the year 2109, although there are several flashbacks to provide background story on previous asteroid strikes and to further develop some of the characters. A good portion of the book details the life of spaceship-captain Robert Singh (including his running a marathon race on the Lunar surface and uprooting his life and moving to Mars). When it is discovered that the asteroid Kali is likely to hit Earth, Singh's ship, Goliath, is tasked with Project Atlas and makes an emergency voyage to Kali with a load of thrusters to set up on the asteroid, hopefully nudging the rock's orbit just enough to push it clear of Earth. In the meantime, a fanatical religious group known as Chrislam believe that the asteroid is meant to destroy the Earth. They thus sneak a bomb on board the Goliath and ruin the thrusters. While Singh uses the Goliath itself as a thruster to move the asteroid, the world government on Earth rushes to reconstruct one of the planet's long-decommissioned nuclear weapons, hoping to break the peanut-shaped Kali in two. The Goliath becomes stuck on the asteroid as the nuclear bomb is travelling towards them.

Literary significance and receptionEdit

The Library Journal review said that "In the capable hands of science fiction veteran Clarke, a standard cosmic disaster plot becomes a lucid commentary on humanity's place in the cosmos".[1]

Film, TV or theatrical adaptationsEdit

While filmmaker Steven Spielberg optioned the rights to The Hammer of God for film production, the resultant movie, Deep Impact (1998), was so dissimilar to the book that Clarke received no on-screen credit for the movie.[2]

References to other worksEdit

  • The book is largely based on a short story of the same title, first published in Time magazine's "Beyond the Year 2000" issue in October 1992.[3] It was the second piece of fiction ever published by the magazine.[4]
  • Clarke reintroduces the idea of project Spaceguard, which he first mentioned in Rendezvous with Rama (1973) as a project to detect near-Earth objects. The Spaceguard featured in The Hammer of God (1993) would seem to be the Spaceguard that exists in the real world, which was inspired by and named after the one in Rendezvous with Rama, as it is remarked to have taken its name from an obscure science fiction novel, and the 9/11/2077 impact that prompted the Spaceguard of Rendezvous with Rama is only mentioned in the book's "Acknowledgements and Sources".
  • Goliath's on-board supercomputer is named David and is very similar to HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Cassada, Jackie (1993-05-15). "Book reviews: Fiction". Library Journal. 118 (9): 99. ISSN 0363-0277.
  2. ^ "A Visit with Arthur C.Clarke". Locus Magazine. September 1999. Retrieved 2008-05-14.
  3. ^ Clarke, Arthur C. (1992-10-15). "The Hammer Of God". Time. Retrieved 2008-05-14.
  4. ^ Reid, Robin Anne. Arthur C. Clarke: A Critical Companion. Greenwood Press. p. 161. ISBN 0313295298.

External linksEdit