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Read The Forge Of God (2001)

The Forge of God (2001)

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3.84 of 5 Votes: 3
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0765301075 (ISBN13: 9780765301079)
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The Forge Of God (2001) - Plot & Excerpts

Wow. Not one of Greg Bear's finest, I would say. Although the last third does try to make up for the plodding two thirds. Like most sci-fi written in the past talking about "the future" that is now our past, it has a few stumbling blocks where he didn't get it quite right. Forge of God was written in 1986, the cold war was still on with no end in sight, computers were just starting to reveal their usefulness as personal computing platforms and modern data storage techniques were coming to light. Set in 1996, he gets a surprising number of things right: personal computers small enough to carry around to hotels and airplanes, optical storage media as a standard, and flat-panel screens. On the other hand, there are a couple references to the Soviet Union and Marxists as adversaries to the U.S. that are kinda grimace-worthy. True to Bear fashion, however, the akwardness of the future come and gone is pretty easily overlooked, as he focuses mainly on the people, not the tech, and the ways that their lives and character are changed over the course of the novel. Basic premise: two alien "bogeys" are discovered on earth. The occupants of one, landed in Australia, say they bring enlightenment for all of humanity, and start teaching those who'll listen about advanced physics etc. The second craft, landed in Nevada, ejects a dying alien who lives long enough to claim that "the planet-eaters" have come to destroy Earth and there's nothing that anyone can do about it. (There's also a third, but we never really find out about it because the Evil Soviets are hiding it.)So what happens? A group of scientists are wrapped up trying to figure out what's going on and who to believe, a group of government officials are trying to decide how much and what to tell the rest of the world and eventually the planet is destroyed in prose at times so moving and evocative that I don't recommend reading it alone in an empty apartment like I did. I put the book down and picked up my cat so I could hold in my arms a breathing, fuzzy reminder that the planet does in fact still exist. So where does it go wrong? Well, there's a story line about a dying scientist, the point of which I'm still trying to understand. As a friend to one of the main, and most developed, characters, it could have been a great vessel for exploring the fragility of human life and the upcoming confrontation he'll have with his own mortality, but instead it just kinda peters out. As I mentioned earlier, it starts out kinda plodding and slow. It falls victim to the Heroes Phenomenon - there are a lot of characters, we don't know why they're in the story and we're not terribly inclined to pay attention to them. Eventually, like Heroes, it does all come together and make sense, but I was left wondering if there isn't a better way to get there. Also, like the last Harry Potter, I really could have done without the epilogue. The story itself sets up enough information as to what's going to happen "afterward" that we really don't need to be propelled a couple hundred years into the future to have it spelled out to us. Not to mention, it was probably the lamest part of the book. I would say that his later works are definitely better than this, although I can see the promise here for those. I rate this book so high because of the end really the meat of the story. Perhaps it would have worked better as a short story, truncating the beginning and focusing in on the main events as they happened.

The difference between a 4 star book and a 5 star book is vast, definitely more than the span of one star. Bear.......bears comparisons with Stephen King in his ability to draw huge inferences in character from descriptive narrative passages, the actions of his characters, and interior and exterior dialogs, as well as relationships between characters. For this reader, they share a knack for initiating caring about what's happening to the characters and the magical gift of crafting a new world that's as believable as anything that can be touched, seen, or heard in the world that we witness everyday. Bear's gift of creating these believable, easy to care about characters draws the reader into this extraordinary plot where the Earth is seemingly doomed. What does he offer any more than any other apocalyptic version of Earth's demise? Well, the characters themselves make the journey worthwhile, and while some may make an argument for nihilism or meaninglessness out of our characters' adventures, I find my way into meaning. I love the descriptive passages about Arthur Gorden's friend, Harry and the wonderful bond of friendship between these two scientists. Harry's letter to Arthur embracing James's Lovelock's theory of Gaia give their own special 'meaning' to existence, and to what's happening in this novel. While not having read a great deal about Lovelock's theory, I understand that it's under a lot of criticism by modern day scientists. Lovelock's theory, however, fits in very well with the plot that unfolds from the mind of Greg Bear. Bear brings a lot of hard science into the novel to support his created world, thereby adding more elements of believability. The settings are absolutely fantastic. Written in 1987 before everyone had a cell phone glued to their fingers, communications in the novel appears specialized and laborious, not the instantaneous institution that it has come to be today. This is well represented in the novel and makes Bear's telepathic 'network' with aliens seem almost prophetic. There are moments of tedium in the novel, but for me, also moments of exhilaration in reading such a well crafted work. At the outset, I could never have guessed how the plot would unfold, and all the way to its ending, I knew that like King, Bear could not be trusted to bring my favorite characters through the mayhem. The ending was deeply believable and as a result of that believability, reaching toward some kind of spiritual meaning that other readers may be able to define more than myself.

What do You think about The Forge Of God (2001)?

In short, this book is a boring apocalypse.I wish that I had read this book 15 years ago. Back then I had lower standards. It does a good job of presenting some compelling scientific ideas, like self-replicating space probes and the concept that the earth can be thought of as an organism which will might eventually be spread by humans acting as a sort of seed or spore. Another point in its favor is that this book is at least as scientifically plausible as any other Science-Fiction I've read in the last decade.However, I didn't much enjoy the book's actual writing. The pace was slow, the action indirect, and the characters dull. The way the author speculated technology would develop (with desktop computers but no cell phones) is occasionally distracting, but quaint. Worst of all the women in this story were emotionally-hyperactive but otherwise flat inert accessories. Even women who were supposed to be brilliant scholars or influential career politicians did nothing except in relation to men. In the author's defense, the men were equally tired cliches.
—Shane Moore

In 1996, Jupiter’s sixth moon Europa suddenly vanishes. The media plays the disappearing act for a few weeks, but as usual fades from their blip screen as they believe the public is apathetic towards some obscure moon. Scientists come up with numerous theories, but no one knows what really happened. Most astronomers remain astounded that a relatively large object can go missing. In Death Valley, three Texas geologists find what seems as the first error of US Geological Survey charts they have ever come across. A very large unmarked mound not shown on the maps rises from the desert. The trio agrees that there is no way that this “mountain” could have been missed. Next they find an ailing alien who needs darkness to live who bears very bad news. Don’t they always? How will the human race react to what appears to be an encounter of a negative kind. Though The Forge of God is well written with an engaging premise, the book falls short because Bear never seems to decide between a classic invasion tale and a psychological reaction plot. Instead, readers are left with pieces of both, but neither is complete. The story line is fast-paced and entertaining and fans of invasion earth novels will find overall enjoyment. It’s an airport or beach book. Good for fun and that’s about it. I have tried so hard to be a Bear fan. I want to like his books. I keep ending up feeling blah.
—Patrick Gibson

This is a book about groups of people and how they act when they find an alien. Great character development, well plotted, and moderately paced. Two types of space aliens are discovered at about the same time, one in the US and one in Australia. The Australasian bogey (as they're called) says they come in peace. The US bogey said that the Australian bogeys are big fat liars and are here to destroy earth like it destroyed its own planet, and that earth is already doomed, we just don't know it yet. So who is lying? Or are they on the same team, playing us as fools to buy time? And is there yet a third kind of alien out there, actually trying to be helpful? Or is that part of their subtle plan? These are the various questions asked by the various groups, and it turns out there are answers, just not the answer most are wanting to hear. This book shows points of view from geologists, politicians, military, some everyday folk, and there is of course, the religious element of the end of the world as depicted in the Bible. The author doesn't pull punches, which is what makes this a really good read. There's enough detail and description that you often feel like you're there, at that moment, experiencing what the characters are experiencing. I will definitely be reading the next in the series.

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