Richter 10


From the New York Times bestselling author of Rama Revealed comes a thrilling new collaborative novel of the race to avert a massive earthquake: the apocalyptic "big one" that threatens to send California sliding off into the Pacific Ocean.

Arthur C.  Clarke is the greatest living writer of science fiction, the mind that produced a string of blockbuster New York Times bestsellers:
2001: A Space Odyssey and its sequels, as well as Rama...

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New York 1997 Mass-market paperback Large type / large print. New. No dust jacket as issued. (111007) 1st Mass market paperback edition is brand new in Near Mint condition with ... slight age browing outside page edges. Mass market (rack) paperback. Glued binding. 416 p. Audience: General/trade. Read more Show Less

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From the New York Times bestselling author of Rama Revealed comes a thrilling new collaborative novel of the race to avert a massive earthquake: the apocalyptic "big one" that threatens to send California sliding off into the Pacific Ocean.

Arthur C.  Clarke is the greatest living writer of science fiction, the mind that produced a string of blockbuster New York Times bestsellers:
2001: A Space Odyssey and its sequels, as well as Rama II, The Garden of Rama and Rama Rescaled.  Now, he turns his remarkable imaginative powers to a near-future novel of the struggle to avoid catastrophe in the form of a colossal earthquake more destructive than any in human history.  Written with Mike McQuay, this is a thrilling novel of man's will to survive against unstoppable forces of nature.

Lewis Crane lived through the devastating Los Angeles earthquake of 1994.  He survived, but his family didn't--and at ten years old, his life was ripped apart.

At the age of thirty-five, Lewis has devoted himself to the study of the most powerful force on Earth: earthquakes.  He is the foremost expert in the field of seismology; and when he predicts a gigantic quake, everyone prepares for disaster.  But to his relief and dismay, the quake never occurs, and suddenly Crane is the subject of ridicule from scientists around the world.  Then he discovers a mistake in his calculations, and realizes that the "Big One" is just around the corner.  The clock is ticking as he attempts to convince the world that this time, catastrophe is certain.

Richter 10 is vintage Arthur C.  Clarke--a fast-paced novel of ideas and near-future imagination, realized by McQuay's talent for characterization and ingenious plotting--and is the major science fiction event of the season.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Two formidable SF talents converge splendidly in this disaster thriller, which offers sleek action-adventure writing, world-class tumult and a coherent near-future based on sound yet innovative social and scientific speculation. Thirty years ago, as a child, Lewis Crane was scarred physically and mentally by the Los Angeles earthquake of 1994. Now he spends his days tracking earthquakes to minimize their damage. He also harbors a secret hope that he can, through a daring plan to fuse the earth's plates by exploding nuclear devices along their fault lines, stop the earthquake menace forever. Lewis is aided and stymied in these actions-and in his attempts to warn of the monster quake implied in the book's title-by a gallery of realistic characters and well-developed political factions, including the suppressed but still potent Nation of Islam, a powerful women's bloc and the Chinese business interests that now really run America. The plot permutations are as rich as the premise and settings, involving maturing characters, shifting allegiances, betrayals, open conflict and hidden agendas. Clarke's trademark technological mysticism and McQuay's tight plotting (as evidenced in his SF detective novels) make for a moving, convincing and engrossing yarn. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Sf guru Clarke (The Hammer of God, LJ 5/15/93) teams up with McQuay (State of Siege, Bantam, 1994) in this novel about a young seismologist in California who pinpoints the location and date of The Big One.
Carl Hays
Clarke's latest novel, a collaboration with the late Mike McQuay, capitalizes on the growing demand for grand-scale sf disaster novels. Lewis Crane is a brilliant seismologist whose obsession with perfecting a method of accurately predicting earthquakes is driven by the loss of his family in the disastrous L.A. earthquake of 1994. While currying favor with preeminent politicians to get funding for his quake-prediction foundation and for his scheme to eventually eliminate quakes altogether by fusing the earth's tectonic plates, Crane forecasts a major shakedown for the Mississippi Valley that doesn't happen as scheduled. Now branded a charlatan, and realizing he made a key mistake in his previous calculations, Crane must reconvince a skeptical public that, in mere months, his prognostication will yet prove true and that the quake that verifies it will be of uniquely devastating magnitude. Clarke and McQuay provide a fascinating peek into the science of seismic geology as well as plenty of rumbles in the action department. A taut, well-written thriller that should satisfy both Clarke's fans and the many devotees of disaster novels.
Kirkus Reviews
Collaboration between the veteran Clarke (The Hammer of God, 1993, etc.) and the late McQuay (Puppetmaster, 1991, etc.) about near-future earthquakes, politics, and environmental disaster. By the 2030s, the Nation of Islam (NOI) is orchestrating a civil war in California (and demanding an independent state of its own); China is the dominant world power; and the global ecology nears collapse because the ozone layer has vanished, while southern Europe and the Middle East have been wiped out by Israel's nuclear self-immolation. Lewis Crane survived the Los Angeles earthquake of 1994 but lost his parents—and now he's the foremost authority on earth tremors. His obsession is to be able to predict earthquakes precisely; on an altogether nuttier plane, he dreams of preventing earthquakes by welding the Earth's crustal plates together with nuclear bombs! Armed with the computer simulation he needs to complete his research, Crane predicts a giant earthquake in Middle America and accepts the backing of Li Cheun, the Chinese businessman who runs the US. But Li betrays Crane for political gain, while the earthquake fails to materialize on time (though it does happen). Later, the NOI attacks Crane's mountain headquarters, killing his wife. So Crane turns his attentions elsewhere, buying real estate on the Moon and starting a colony secure from Earth's imminent breakdown.

Long-windedly un-Clarke-like but engagingly peopled, and, while improbable, never dull.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553573336
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/31/1997
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 4.22 (w) x 6.87 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author


Clarke is widely revered as one of the most influential science fiction writers of the 20th century, esteemed alongside Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein, a trio known informally as the “Big Three.” Before his death in 2008, he authored more than 100 novels, novellas, and short story collections and laid the groundwork for science fiction as we know it today. Combining scientific knowledge and visionary literary aptitude, Clarke’s work explored the implications of major scientific discoveries in astonishingly inventive and mystical settings.

Clarke’s short stories and novels have won numerous Hugo and Nebula Awards, have been translated into more than 30 languages, and have sold millions of copies worldwide. Several of his books, including 2001: A Space Odyssey and 2010: Odyssey II, have been adapted into films that still stand as classic examples of the genre. Without a doubt, Arthur C. Clarke is one of the most important voices in contemporary science fiction literature.


Widely considered the greatest science fiction writer of all time, Arthur C. Clarke turned his formidable technical knowledge and lively creative imagination into an amazing career that spanned the fields of literature, invention, futurology, and entertainment.

Born in 1917 in the seaside town of Minehad in Somerset, England, Clarke developed an early interest in both science and its literary sister, speculative science fiction. After secondary school he moved to London and joined the British Interplanetary Society, where he contributed articles to the Society's bulletin. During WWII, he joined the RAF, working in the experimental trials of Ground Controlled Approach Radar, the forerunner of today's air traffic control systems. (This experience inspired his only non-science fiction novel, 1963's Glide Path.) In a technical paper written in 1945 for the UK periodical Wireless World, he set out the principles of satellite communication that would lead to the global satellite systems in use today.

After WWII, he attended King's College, London, on scholarship and received first class honors in Physics and Mathematics. He sold his first sci-fi story to Astounding Science Fiction magazine in May of 1946. From that point on, he never stopped writing. Some of his more notable works include Childhood's End, Rendezvous with Rama, and The Fountains of Paradise.

In 1964, Clarke was approached by film auteur Stanley Kubrick to collaborate on a science fiction movie script. The material chosen for adaptation was Clarke's 1948 short story "The Sentinel," an eerie tale about the discovery of an extraterrestrial artifact. Over the next four years, he expanded the story into a full-length novel, while simultaneously writing the screenplay with Kubrick. In 1968, both versions of 2001: A Space Odyssey debuted to great acclaim. Clarke also worked in television -- as a consultant during the CBS news coverage of the Apollo 12 and 15 space missions and as creator of two distinguished series, "Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World" and "Arthur C. Clarke's World of Strange Powers."

In 1954, Clarke visited Sri Lanka (then called Ceylon). He fell in love with the country and settled there in 1956, founding a guided diving service and continuing to produce his astonishing books and articles. On March 19, 2008, he died in Sri Lanka at the age of 90, leaving behind an impressive literary legacy and millions of bereft fans.

Good To Know

Clarke shared an Oscar nomination with Stanley Kubrick for the screenplay of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Clarke was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1998.

In 1986, the Science Fiction Writers of America bestowed on Clarke the title of Grand Master.

At home in Sri Lanka, Clarke survived the deadly Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004 that caused the deaths of more than a quarter million people.

Clarke was an expert scuba diver and in 1956 founded a guided diving service in Sri Lanka, then known as Ceylon.

In Profiles of the Future (1962), Clarke set forth his "Three Laws," provocative observations on science, science fiction, and society:

  • "When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong."
  • "The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible."
  • "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
  • Read More Show Less
      1. Date of Birth:
        December 16, 1917
      2. Place of Birth:
        Minehead, Somerset, England
      1. Date of Death:
        March 19, 2008
      2. Place of Death:
        Sri Lanka
      1. Education:
        1948, King's College, London, first-class honors in Physics and Mathematics

    Read an Excerpt

    Now, a look inside Richter 10...


    Fingertips tingling and toes numb, pajamas damp with sweat, Lcwis Crane came wide awake.   Evcry one of his worst night terrors was real! And at that horrible moment he knew he'd been right all along and the grownups had been wrong: The Wild Things did live in the back of his closet; a dragon did sneak in when the sun went down to curl up under his bed.   The monsters were invisible in the dusty moonlight seeping through the slats of the blinds, but Lewis knew they were there.   They roared hideously and stomped around the room, making his bed wiggle like a trampoline he was using to climb onto.   He screwed his eyes closed and clamped his hands over his ears.   But the monsters didn't go away.   They got wilder and made even louder noises.

    Suddenly pitched out of bed, Lewis screamed for his parents.

    His voice was so little and the noise was so big that his Mama and Daddy would never hear him.   He had to get to them.   Heart pounding, he tried to make himself stand up, but fear kept him rooted to the floor as it started to buck beneath him and the walls began to undulate like the enormous pythons he'd seen at the big zoo in San Diego.   His bookcases were quivering, the chairs trembling, and the video games stacked on top of his computer came tumbling down.   Something whirred over his shoulder--the picture that had hung above the little table next to his bed--and landed beside his knee, glass popping out of its frame and spraying his leg.

    "Mama," he cried.   "Mama, Daddy, help me!"

    Everything shook.   Everything.   Books and Tonka trucks fleu off the shelves; his Power Rangers and Ninja Turtle action figures danced as if alive on their way to the rug; matchbox cars and crayons sailed through the air.  The mirror over his dresser and the aquarium next to his desk smashed onto bare parts of the floor, glass and water showering him from clear across the room.

    "Daddy," he wailed again just as his chest of drawers crashed to within an inch of where he sat.   He jumped up then, but the floor heaved and he Jost his balance, banging down hard on his knees.

    And he plunged into the end of the world.

    His body shook violently, his whole room shook violently, and he heard the most awfull noise he'd ever heard in all his seven years.   It sounded like the ground for miles around was cracking open and his house was splitting apart and maybe even the sky was getting torn into pieces.   Tears ran down his face. He began to crawl to the doorway, cockeyed and funny-looking as if a giant had twisted it sideways.   He thought he heard his mother call his name, but he couldn't be sure.   He was sobbing now.   He wanted her, wanted his father, too.   He had to get to them.

    The hallway was full of dangerous stuff, and he stopped for a second.   There were chunks of plaster and metal rods all mixed up with jagged spikes of wood and ugly shards of glass from the furniture and pictures that used to be so neatly strung along the walls.   The pile uas higher than his knees and he uas scared that he was going to hurt himself crawling through it, but the house was rolling around so much that he didn't dare try to get up and run.   He took a deep breath and started to crawl as fast as he could, his arms and hands getting bashed and cut, his thighs and feet feeling stung and torn.

    He reached the dining room, and a sob caught in his throat.   He could hear his parents.   Mama was calling his name--but Daddy was screaming in pain.   There uas a lot more light out here, but he didn't like it because it uas bluish and kind of winking over everything in a spooky way.   He shivered, then turned, put his hands flat on the wall, pushed his legs out, and climbed palm over palm until he was on his feet.   The whole room was rolling around, making Lewis suddenly remember the deep-sea fishing boat he'd been on last summer.   It had dipped way down and way up, swung side to side, and, if he hadn't been on Daddy's lap, and if Daddy hadn't been strapped into the big chair bolted to the deck, they and the chair and everything else would have gone sliding from rail to rail.   Could the house be riding a humongous wave? Silly.   Their house couldn't get blown all the way from Northridge out to sea.   But that other noise, that sort of sure sounded a lot like a big wind in a bad storm.

    "Lewis!" he heard his mother shout, "Lewis, run.   Get outside!"

    She lurched into the room and started to shuffle toward him.   Her nightgown was scrunched around her chest, hanging from the waist in rags that tangled around her knees.   Joy and relief flooded him.   He let go of the wall, stumbled forward, then froze.   Mama was making a grab for the edge of the dining room table coasting toward her, but he could see behind her, see the huge breakfront Daddy had bought her for an anniversary gift slowly toppling away from the wall....

    Glass exploded, splinters of it striking him, shredding his pajamas.   And he heard the crash and Mama's scream and saw the stars through the sudden hole in the dining room ceiling and everything seemed to stop for a second.   Then he was scrambling over the wreckage, clawing his way to his mother whose face and right arm were exposed to the night.

    "I'll get you out, Mama," he called, tears tracking through the dust coating his face.

    "Run, darling," she whispered when he reached her.   "Run to the street."

    In vain he pushed on the side panel of the breakfront.

    "Please, Lewis," she said, strangely calm.   "Do what Mama says."


    "Don't disobey me.   Do what I say right now."

    Lewis's mind was spinning.   He couldn't move that piece of furniture.  Not alone.   He needed help.

    "I'm gonna go find someone to help me get you out from under there," he said, taking a step back as the rolling of the floor slowed somewhat. The rumbling was distant now and he realized he couldn't hear Daddy screaming from the bedroom anymore.   "I'll be right back, Mama.   Understand? I'll be right back for you and Daddy.   "

    "Yes, sweetheart," she said, voice weak.   "Hurry...hurry outside."

    He limped around thc rubble, got to thc living room, and was just going through thc opened front door whcn anothcr scction of the roof fell in with a grcat crash.   Out on thc walk, he smelled gas and saw thc beams of flashlights darting around front lawns up and down thc block.   Thc street was lumpy and brokcn, thc houses across thc way all crumplcd in front.   Panic shook him, but he didn't havc time for it.   He needcd to get help fast.

    He heard people, and he headcd for the voices and flashlights, screaming as he ran.

    "Help! Help mc! Please...somebody!"

    Thcn he trippcd on a new hill on the lawn and fell hard, face down.   He hurt all over...and he cried.   But he didn't stay there.   Struggling to his feet, hc uas suddcnly blindcd by a beam of light.

    "It's thc Crane boy," a man looming ovcr him yelled.   "Come hcre quick!"

    People were all around him forcing him onto his back on the ground.   He tried to shove them away.   "Hclp, please.   My Mama and Daddy arc still inside. Mama's trappcd.   You've-- "

    "Easy, son," came thc voice of thc man holding him down.   "It's me...Mr. Haussman from across thc street.   Don't worry, we'll get your parents out."

    "God, look at him," a woman said as people played their flashlight beams across his tattered pajamas.   "He's bleeding premy badly.   I--Oh, my Lord! Look at his arm!"

    Lewis rolled onto his side to see what she was pointing at.   A piece of glass as big as a baseball card was sticking out of his upper left arm.   He didn't even feel it.   He didn't feel the arm at all.

    "My Mama's trapped," he said, and a shadow reached doun and jerked hard, pulling the shard from his flesh.   "Please help her."

    The woman choked and turned away as Lewis stared at the blood squirting furiously out of his arm where she'd removed the glass.

    "Dammit," Mr.   Haussman muttered.   He ripped the rest of Lewis's pajama shirt offand tied it just above the squirting blood.   "We've got to get him to a hospital."

    "My pickup truek," said Mr.   Eornell, the next door neighbor.   "We can put him in the back of that."

    "Get it," Mr.   Haussman said, and Mr.   Comell went charging off.

    "My parents...." Lewis said, trying to get up, only to have Mr.   Haussman push him baek down.

    "We'll get them out," the man said, then turned to the others, speeterS behind the beams of their flashlights.   "Can somebody get into the house and look for the Cranes?"

    The ground shook again, everyone reacting loudly, one lady even moaning as if in pain.

    Several men ran toward his house, Lewis noted with relief.   "What's happening?" he asked, grabbing Mr. Haussman's shirtsleeve.

    "Earthquake, son," the man said, tightening the knot on his makeshift tourniquet.   "A big one."

    "I-I smelled g-gas," Lewis said, trying to rise once again.

    "Gas?" Haussman looked alarmed.   "Oh, no."

    He lowered Lewis to the ground and stood, directing his beam at Mr.  Cornell in the pickup truck next door.   "George!" he shouted, "don't surt the-- "

    A monstrous explosion turned the pitch night into bright day.   Lewis, propped up on his elbows, watched a giant fireball engulf his house, Mr. Cornell's house, and the pickup truck itself.

    Agonized screams tore the air.   Burning men ran from his house; Mr. Cornell was a fiery, writhing twig in the cab of his truck.   Lewis lay stupefied as smoldering debris fell all around him, his mind frozen in pain and horror.

    He was a child, but he understood that he had just lost everything, that the love and protection of home and family were gone forever.   Fires crackled and raged barely fifty feet from him, causing sweat to spring out of every pore, and making the grass, already slick with his blood, become slippery as ice. Both elbows glided out from under him.   Flat on his back, he stared up at a starfield that was startlingly brilliant and cold and very far away.

    Lewis Crane was alone.

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