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Paperback When Worlds Collide Book

ISBN: 0803298145

ISBN13: 9780803298149

When Worlds Collide

(Book #1 in the When Worlds Collide Series)

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

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...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Clearing up some confusion...

Many of the earlier reviews on this site call for a reissue of the sequel, "After Worlds Collide". Please note: BOTH STORIES, "When Worlds Collide" and "After Worlds Collide", are contained in this paperback version. The title is misleading because it only includes "When..." -- but both stories are there. Other reviewers have correctlly noted that there are some scientific inaccuracies, and some 1930s political and social views that seem out of place today. Who cares?! This is a wonderful story. In part 1, the authors concoct an excellent apocalyptic scenario. And in part 2, their conception of the alien planet is brilliant. This is a very well-told yarn.

The REAL Armageddon

I discovered this one when I was in 5th grade. Buying it now, 30 years later, I was worried that it just wouldn't hold up. To my delight, it stands up to the test of time magnificently. We've seen movies and TV specials in the past few years on the impact of some cosmic body with Earth (Deep Impact, Armageddon, Meteor). Balmer and Wylie did it decades ago, and did it on a scale and with an attention to (then-current) detail that's still staggeringly convincing, if dated, today. Written before WWII (1933 and 34), When Worlds Collide features the destruction of the Earth in the most complete manner possible, and focuses on the efforts of a few people to find a way to escape that destruction. The manner in which they do so is brilliantly thought out and detailed, the progressive deterioration of both society and of the Earth itself is heartwrenchingly chronicled, and the final flight from the doomed planet is a classic. Yes, we have super-science, purple prose, and sometimes overly-simplistic characters (not to mention outdated concepts), but this is an example of the Golden Age that can still stand on its own. It DEFINED the disaster novel, and set the bar so high that few who came after even dared attempt the grand scale that Balmer and Wylie achieved. The sequel has its own charm, a combination of aftermath and exploration, with some eerie scenes that still give me a bit of the creeps to read.


This is a true science-fiction classic. The reason is simple: it is plausible. I first read this story almost forty years ago when I was in junior high school, and in the intervening years, it has lost none of its' fascination for me. I especially was taken by the sequel. The basic story is this: an astronomer discovers two planets from outside the solar system that are on a collision course with earth. One of them is a gas giant the size of Uranus, the other is a planet similar to earth, which will be destroyed. The other planet will assume the approximate orbit that the earth had. The scientists of earth build space vehicles in an attempt to save the human race. When I heard it was back in print, I orderd a copy and was very happy to find that the sequel was included. After Worlds Collide deals with the adventures of the people who land on the new planet.Some of the criticisms of these books are somewhat understandable. For example, the dialogue is sometimes--to be charitable--unrealistic. And the absence of diversity will offend some. There were only whites and Asians mentioned, and the "Asiatics" were, for the most part,the villains. Ignoring these relatively minor flaws however, still leaves a story that fascinates.One disappointment in the Bison reprints is that they do not have the maps of the new planet in it, but I am still glad it is back in print.If your local bookstore does not have it, order it. I doubt that you will be disappointed.

WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer

Probably the best science fiction story of all times! A "gas giant" planet about the size of Uranus was dragged away from its original orbit around its sun in a distant solar system by a passing star, perhaps millions of years ago. Also dragged away was the gigantic planet's satellite, an earthlike planet. The two bodies retain their original orbital influence and wonder for eons, frozen in the absolute zero of space, until they come close enough to our solar system and are pulled in, attracted by the gravity of our own sun, their speeds increased several times in their endless travel through space. Star gazers soon discover that at least one of the newly discovered bodies will collide with and destroy the earth. Upon being discovered by a South African astronomer Professor Bronson, the two bodies are named by scientists after its discoverer. The larger one, the gaseous "Bronson Alpha", will destroy the earth, so a Noah's Ark rocket is built at a franctic pace to provide escape of 100 chosen would be travelers, so they can start a new life in Alpha's companion, the earthlike "Bronson Beta" which will replace the Earth in its orbital position. Time is of essence in this classic sci-fi thriller which should be remade by Hollywood in state or the art computerized special effects and sound!

The Grandaddy of the Disaster Genre!

I first read this book more than thirty years ago. I have read it many times since and it will always remain on my list of all-time favorites. This is a book in the tradition of Verne and Wells in that it brings many basic scientific principles to life and makes them understandable to the reader.Against the backdrop of universal disaster, Wylie and Balmer manage to tell a story that has real human dimensions. Love, hate, ingenuity, and compassion all play out here in characters that will truly engage the reader. Furthermore, the scope of adventure the book gives will compel the reader to keep turning the pages, eager to see what happens next. In this way the book is a true success. However, for the discerning reader, the story also raises some perplexing and even disturbing questions, giving it a depth that mere adventure can't.My career as a geographer and mathematician can trace its genesis to one book, and that book is WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE. So I personally owe its authors a great deal, and so does all science-fiction because this book epitomizes the genre's greatest strengths.
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