When Worlds Collide Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of When Worlds Collide

When Worlds Collide is a 1933 science fiction novel in which another planet destroys the Earth. It was made into a 1953 film of the same name, with another possibly in the works.
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Leading American scientist Cole Hendron announces that two planets are approaching from outer space: the much larger Bronson Alpha and Bronson Beta, the latter about the same size as the Earth. In eight months, Alpha will pulverize the Moon. It will return sixteen months after that to destroy the Earth and then leave the solar system, while Beta remains behind. Hendron sets out to build a rocket ship powered by an atomic pile to take 100 people to Bronson Beta in the hope that it is habitable. Other nations do the same.

The first close encounter with the two interlopers kills most of the world's population with huge tides and earthquakes. Hendron's encampment is largely unscathed. Five months before the end, desperate mobs attack, killing over half of Hendron's people, before they are wiped out.

Hendron decides that, with the progress they have made, they can construct a second ship so that all the survivors can escape. Both ships take off in time, but lose contact with each other. The original ship makes a safe landing. The crew emerge to find not only a livable environment, but also a road and a monument, indicating the planet once had its own civilization.
Best part of story, including ending: What's not to like about an end-of-the-world story with a happy ending?

Best scene in story: Near the end, a man leaves his two young children by the barbed wire enclosing the camp. They are found and taken along on the journey.

Opinion about the main character: The story is told from the viewpoint of young businessman and Harvard graduate magna cum laude Tony Drake. Since it was written in 1933, he and the other characters exhibit some now-distasteful prejudices.

The review of this Book prepared by J. Lee a Level 10 Peregrine Falcon scholar

Chapter Analysis of When Worlds Collide

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book Descript. of chases or violence 20%planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 40%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 30%Descript. of society, phenomena (tech), places 10% Tone of book    -   suspenseful (sophisticated fear) FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION?    -   science fiction story Explore/1st contact/ enviro story    -   Yes Explore:    -   post environmental/nuclear disaster, fighting MadMax gangs Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book

Main Character

Identity:    -   Male Profession/status:    -   business executive Age:    -   20's-30's


Earth setting:    -   20th century Takes place on Earth?    -   Yes Takes place in spaceship?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   moderately detailed references to deaths scientific jargon? (SF only)    -   some scientific explanation How much dialogue?    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

Books with storylines, themes & endings like When Worlds Collide

Edwin Balmer and Philip Wylie Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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