My review of Raymond F. Jones’ The Year When Stardust Fell


Mayfield was the typical college town. Nothing too unusual ever happened there until a mysterious comet was suddenly observed by the scientists on College Hill.

And then one day the modified engine on Ken Maddox’s car began overheating mysteriously. By morning it didn’t run at all.

Art’s Garage, local headquarters for hot-rodders, was soon so full of cars that wouldn’t run, that Ken’s science club began working in the garage after school. It didn’t take long for the club to discover that all the moving parts on these stalled cars had fused together. Soon all machinery had stopped in Mayfield. There was no longer any light or power anywhere. This mysterious creeping paralysis was spreading.

The copper-yellow glow of the comet seemed to have brought the whole world to a grinding halt. Airplanes, trains, generators and heavy machinery were immobilized. Finally man was left with only a few primitive tools and communication became possible only by means of amateur radio. In the resulting chaos parts of Mayfield were burned and looted by hunger-crazed mobs that stole and killed as they advanced.

Here is science fiction at its thrilling best. A startling and thought-provoking book that shows how human nature might react to catastrophe.

4 Stars

Comets are known as harbingers of death. This is how our civilization dies. When modern mechanical conveniences break down so does our society. In this story we follow the townsfolk of a little college town as they try to hold things together battling mechanical breakdowns, marauding nomads, disease and civil unrest amongst themselves. A well written, if slightly dated, SF story. I enjoyed most of it, even if some of the characters were rather shallow and transparent.

The Project Gutenberg eBook was formatted well with no obvious errors.