"Shiva Descending" is a science fiction novel by Gregory Benford, written in collaboration with William Rotsler. The novel is basically a disaster story: a huge, mountain-sized asteroid, named Shiva by the Indian astronomer who discovers it in the opening chapter, is on a collision course with Earth. Due to the size of the asteroid, collision will cause earthquakes and tidal waves on a scale which could eradicate mankind. Shiva is part of a swarm of smaller asteroids which begin hitting Earth about 1 year before the final collision, causing massive destruction and death.

The novel is written from a large number of points of view: astronomers, shuttle astronauts, politicians, "The End is Nigh"-prophets, even the President of the United States of America. The novel mainly describes how Earth is preparing for the impact of Shiva. It alternates between descriptions of the chaostaking over Earth (cults, riots, mass orgies) and the plans to attempt to destroy or divert Shiva.

"Shiva Descending" was written in 1980. It is interesting to see the constant references to the Cold War. The USSR was still very much the USA's large, shadowy opponent. The 2 nuclear powers are forced to cooperate because of the impending doom, but the relation is strained.

Despite this obviously dated aspect, the novel is well written. Gregory Benford writes hard science fiction, but is able to create believable characters and write an engaging story around the science. If you enjoyed movies such as "Deep Impact" and "Armageddon", you should definitely read this for, well, a more intelligent look at the same subject matter.

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