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When Worlds Collide by Philip Wylie

When Worlds Collide (1932)

by Philip Wylie, Edwin Balmer (Author)

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Read January 2005
Read October 2009

October 2009 Review:
the world is on a collision course with 2 planets heading into our solar system. A group of scientists gather a group of select people and work on a rocket ship to take them to the second, smaller, hopefully inhabitable planet. For something written back in the 1930's, this was good stuff, not pulp fiction'y' at all. ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
This is classic 1930's science fiction. When Worlds Collide is a ripping yarn in which two wayward planets (Bronson Alpha and Bronson Beta: one a destroyer, one a savior) approach us from deep space: one on a path to destroy Earth, the other a potential haven for the survival of the human race if The League of The Last Days can build a nuclear powered Space Ship, stave off a mob of attacking marauders, and successfully navigate the ship to this "new" earth. As usual, the book is far superior to the 1951 film version whose plot is completely stripped down and simplified.

If you can wade through some stilted oratory dialogue and some painful expository dialogue, there's much to enjoy here in both the fast-paced story and in Philip Wylie's writing style. Some cool, evocative phrases like "The Bronson Bodies rose in frightful majesty."... The jaw-dropping descriptions of the horrific cataclysms that befall earth ... And the awe-inspiring description of the sky and celestial beauty of Bronson Beta. ( )
  ghr4 | Oct 25, 2015 |
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. ( )
6 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 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Philip Wylieprimary authorall editionscalculated
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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:50 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"On November 30, 2007, 24-year-old Kevin Shields went out drinking with three Army buddies from Fort Carson, Colo., a base on the outskirts of Colorado Springs. A few hours later, he was dead -- shot twice in the head at close range and left by the side of the road by his fellow soldiers. Shields' murder punctuated a string of violent attacks committed by the three, who are now serving time in prison for this and other crimes, and it contributed to a startling statistic: Since the Iraq war began, a total of 17 soldiers from Fort Carson have been charged with or convicted of murder, manslaughter or attempted murder committed at home in the United States, and 36 have committed suicide. In The Wounded Platoon, Frontline investigates a single Fort Carson platoon of infantrymen -- the 3rd Platoon, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry -- and finds, after a long journey, a group of young men changed by war and battling a range of psychiatric disorders that many blame for their violent and self-destructive behavior. Since returning from Iraq, three members of the 3rd Platoon have been convicted on murder or attempted murder charges; one has been jailed for drunk driving and another for assaulting his wife; and one has attempted suicide."-- Frontline website.… (more)

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