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When Worlds Collide by Philip Wylie

When Worlds Collide (1932)

by Philip Wylie, Edwin Balmer (Author)

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Witten in the early 1930s, When Worlds Collide tells the story of what happens when two planets that have been set free from their own star "some millions of years ago" make their way into our solar system with first a close pass, then a direct collision course with Earth. Seems as if it's intended as a religious parable (even down to the female lead being named Eve), or at the very least, yet another indictment of man's inhumanity to man and his planet. ( )
  ScoutJ | Apr 27, 2013 |
Number 4 in the list of 50 essential science fiction books and the first American entry, which turns out to be a cracker. We are in the world of pulp fiction, where the story line carries all before it. It is co authored and I suspect that Edwin Balmer was the ideas man and if so he certainly came up with a good one here.

Two rogue planets: Bronson alpha and Bronson Beta are hurtling towards the solar system; they have been tracked by the scientific community, who have formed a league of the last days. When news is released to the public it is predicted that Bronson Alpha will collide with the earth, so causing it's destruction, however as a twist to this end of world scenario, 7 months before the collision the two planets will pass so close to the earth that there will be cataclysmic changes to the surface of our world and most of the population will not survive this first "passing." The League of the last days have formed their own community of brilliant scientists who under the leadership of Dr Hendron plan a daring venture to build a space ship to leave earth and settle on Bronson Beta The community must first survive the initial passing of the planets, must get a nuclear powered spaceship built and fight of the marauding groups of fellow survivors before any attempt is made to land on Bronson Alpha. Many of the classic elements of sci-fi are here: scientific discoveries, space travel, dystopia, end of this world and a new beginning,

Written in 1932 this novel is very much of it's time; it is the scientists who will save humanity and they are all white Caucasian males, Some women will assist the scientists, but their main function is domestic arrangements and later breeding stock, A couple of alpha males are in respectful competition for the prettiest most intelligent woman and it is America who will lead the way. The prose can be a bit stilted at times and some of the conversations seem to come from 1930's Hollywood movies, but if you can read past the dated feel to the text then there is much to enjoy here. There is genuine suspense, there is also a brilliant description of a closed community fighting for survival. The dystopia after the first passing has a certain realism but also a sense of wonder that you find in the very best science fiction. The psychology of a group fighting to keep a civilization in the face of savagery is a key theme as is thoughts on a new community and new beginnings.

For me the book had the feel of an exciting science fiction yarn, something that I would certainly have enjoyed as a teenager and reading it today it still had much to offer. At times it had the power to stir the imagination and it was certainly a page turner, although I had to be careful turning the pages of my 1975 paperback copy lest the book might disintegrate. I can understand why the book has it's classic (Sci-fi classic that is) status. I am tempted to dip into other books by Philip Wylie and I rate this novel at 4 stars. ( )
4 vote baswood | Mar 23, 2013 |
An intersting take on what will happen in this world if we ever discover the world is literally about to end...
Will we be cooperative or will it be every rat for themselves? ( )
  dragonasbreath | Mar 18, 2012 |
Awesome book
  zethys | Nov 21, 2008 |
Amazingly good, particularly when you consider it was written in 1932.
A pair of rogue planets sweep into our solar system - one is on a collision course with earth and the second will wind up captured by the sun... Atomic rocketships can be built as arks so a few people may reach the second world.
There are some things that are a bit hard to accept. At one point in the story a new element is discovered, unearthed by the mounting vulcanism , which turns out to be just the material needed for the atomic rocket engine. But, overall, the story carried me along and I enjoyed it thouroughly.
  thingmaker | Jan 29, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Philip Wylieprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Balmer, EdwinAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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This entry represents editions containing only "When Worlds Collide". A number of editions using this title have been published containing both "When Worlds Collide" and "After Worlds Collide". If you have one of these editions, please separate it and combine with the omnibus entry.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0446740217, Mass Market Paperback)

A runaway planet hurtles toward the earth. As it draws near, massive tidal waves, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions wrack our planet, devastating continents, drowning cities, and wiping out millions. In central North America, a team of scientists race to build a spacecraft powerful enough to escape the doomed earth. Their greatest threat, they soon discover, comes not from the skies but from other humans.
A crackling plot and sizzling, cataclysmic vision have made When Worlds Collide one of the most popular and influential end-of-the-world novels of all time. This Bison Frontiers of Imagination edition features the original story and its sequel, After Worlds Collide.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:30 -0400)

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