63 of 69 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 1999
Novels don't get much better than this. Bear really penned a true classic here. I've read many different versions of the end of the Earth, but this one truly spooked me. The aliens Bear creates are so thoroughly cold, calculating, and without compassion that even the mere possibility of a race like that in existance is a frightening thought. Also, the way that Bear has the aliens destroy the earth is chilling in itself. The methodology that they employ in setting up the Earth's destruction is simply unforgettable. But what really got me about this book was the human element that Bear employed. Though Bear didn't do deep character development, he did enough so that the reader could identify with them. As the end approached, I was able to feel the total helplessness, anger, dismay, and unjustness of it all that Bear conveyed through his characters. That Bear set one of the scenes of the end in Yosemite, one of my favorite places, just got me all the more. Ultimately, what Bear succeeded in doing was to not only have us face our own mortality, but to have us ponder just how precious life really is. I for one was not aware that I was so afraid of dying, and one of his character's desire to stay alive as long as possible to experience all that he could was a sentiment I myself would feel all the way to the frightening end. This book affected me in ways thousands of other novels could not, and has left a haunting impression. Highly reccommended to anyone who enjoys great writing at its absolute best.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 1999
The Forge of God chronicles what has to be the most effective demolition of the Earth since it was pulverized to make way for a new hyperspatial bypass (see The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.) It's a fascinating question - short of using some kind of implausible Death Star-like superweapon, how do you convincingly destroy an entire planet? Well, Greg Bear provides the answer. In the buildup to the main event, strange landings and encounters take place and confusion abounds among the hapless life forms inhabiting the surface, as things gain a truly ominous momentum. I found The Forge of God extremely compelling, in a downbeat sort of way; as usual, Greg Bear strikes a near-perfect balance between the science and the storytelling. One question still remained in my mind - why? Genocide, it must be said, is not unknown among us humans, yet we usually require a few centuries of tit-for-tat mayhem before taking this option. On the other hand, these are aliens we're dealing with, who might regard us much as we regard your average garden pest. A couple of final thoughts; firstly, for anyone who still thinks that nuclear weapons would "blow up the world X times" - no chance. Secondly, that all our eggs are still in one basket; for the sake of future generations, we must expand offworld. Just in case.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2006
What is character development and human drama? What is suspense? You might say that these are both necessary "pauses" in the story that make the narrative more interesting and believable. For my (sci-fi loving) tastes, Bear went a little overboard on both, but non-sci-fi buffs may disagree. In a very Hitchcock-like manner, we never get to meet, understand or battle the real alien antagonists. If we experienced a similar invasion, the sad truth is that most of us would never have a clue what was actually happening. For this reason Bear's style is genius... intentional or not, the reader's experience is much the same as the characters: they don't have any idea what sort of deception is being conducted by the aliens or even if there is a deception. The invader's power is so totally beyond the realm of human defenses, that ultimately all they can do is sit back and watch the earth be dismantled in a grandiose and sadistically aloof way that may haunt you for years. When compared to typical mass market sci-fi (movies/TV etc.) the final act provides nothing short of jaw dropping astonishment. But it takes a loooong time to get there and those devices that deliver believable characters and pages and pages of suspense, start to get rather frustrating for a sci-fi aficionado. By the end, you are left with so many questions that you may wonder whether such bafflement is worth while... should an alien invasion have a happy ending or not? Enter: Anvil of Stars, now we're cooking! All of your frustrations are soothed (eventually) and the technological wonders are heaped on by the spaceship load. After absorbing the lengthy trials and tribulations of Forge's characters, it feels like a bit if a letdown that only one makes it to the sequel. But the vigorous pace soon makes up for that, and it quickly seems as if Forge was just a prequel to the real action. I'm not sure why the reviews and sales numbers seem to favor Forge. Greg Bear is well known as a hard sci-fi writer, and Anvil fulfills this role much better. The pace is much quicker and (like Eon) the wonders never cease. From massive coexisting alien civilizations, custom built fake matter space craft and solar system size booby traps, this is what sci-fi is all about... the soap opera politics of Forge soon fade, and you are immersed in a tale of alien deception, intergalactic revenge, warfare and high-tech toys that grips you by the tentacles! I read both books back to back and after 800+ pages of this story I'm just sad there isn't a third book! It seems absolutely pointless to read one without reading the other, but as other reviewers have said, the two works almost seem to have been written by different authors... theme(s) of human frailty, indecision and infighting persist in Anvil for those who like that element of Forge but the true sci-fi lover really get his just desserts in the sequel. Enjoy!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2014
I really enjoyed this book, especially the ending. That said, I got annoyed enough at times to almost stop reading it. First of all, I had a tough time keeping all the characters in order especially since there was so much skipping around in the story. Arthur, Francine, Marty (aka Martin) Danielle her husband...don't remember his name and their daughter. Hicks, Ed, Minelli, Rottersomething or other, Rogers, Crockerman, Frank Topp, Harry, Feinman, Renslaw, Stella, Betsy, Inez, Lehrman, Ithaca, Irwin, Schwartz, Tishman, Frederick Hale, Fusetti, Samshow, Tanya (Fusetti), Sand, Kemp, Walt...and on and on. I just wasn't certain who was of real importance at times. I finally just gave up trying to remember who everybody was and decided not to care much about names. You know that feeling when you've been briefly introduced to someone and then can't remember what their name is or if it's even important to the story. The other problem I found quite distracting was the numerous errors I believe are OCR errors. Hopefully the publisher will read this and correct some of them. About halfway through the book I decided to just stop and highlight some of the mistakes I found. They were very distracting to me especially when I was in a particulary engrossing part of a story...the errors made me lose the moment! Here goes: Ail should be all (This one happened many times throughout the text), wail =wall, hp=lip, fife=life, niagic=magic, Reuhen=Reuben, steadilv=steadily, ambi = anti, I ' m = I'm, speculation . = speculation., yisiting = visiting, unnecessary : = unnecessary, Uves = lives, hps = lips, the.one = the one, LeBar-on = LeBaron, beheves = believes, momand = mom and, uve = live, you.coming = you coming, I with an accent on top of the I, 3uena = Buena, phytoplank-ton = phytoplankton. Despite these criticisms the ending was an emotional one for me and to be fair, I found it a good story.
29 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2007
I hate giving this book a bad review. I loved two other books by this author (Darwin's Radio and Darwin's Children) and this one was highly recommended so I ordered it. But I was very disappointed here. [Some mild spoilers ahead] I'll try not to give anything important away, but while the book starts off as a wonderful mystery, it suddenly hangs and for the next 300 pages or so I was constantly waiting for the story to get going again, but it never did. The book is about an alien visit to our solar system, and a few of them make contact with the Australian and United States governments in the most exciting parts of the book. But after we learn just a little bit about these aliens, nothing is heard or seen from them directly again, EVER. Instead, the next 70% of the book describes events revolving around the main characters, where the characters are just spectators, and since they don't really do anything, I just don't care about them in the least. I thought this was going to change when in one brief scene, a group of people actually do something to fight back against the alien menace, but that scene was over in a couple of pages! C'mon! The Earth is threatened with complete annihilation and people just passively sit back and do nothing? Get real. Another reviewer here contrasted this book with Niven and Pournell's book "Footfall". Footfall is a good example of the incredible lengths people would go to (whether successful or not) to fight an overwhelming alien invader, and we should have seen someone in this book with a little desire to fight for survival. I know the US President in this book was an intentionally wimpy character, but there are a lot of folks in the US other than the president, and a lot of other countries in the world. If you read this book, I would recommend reading the first 25% or so, and the last couple of chapters, skipping the stuff in between. You don't miss much.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2001
I have read quite a few Stephen King, or other, horror novels. I yawned my way through them.
This novel, about the impending destruction of the Earth in an alien invasion, gave me NIGHTMARES. It seemed more real than any other novel I've read in years.
This story seems so real, and is so fast paced, I read it in a matter of hours over only two days. It terrified me in a way no other book ever has. Greg Bear wrote perhaps the best alien-invasion novel ever.
And I wouldn't say the ending is dues ex machina. Yes, the cavalry comes -- but to what effect? I don't want to spoil the end, but suffice to say, Bear doesn't wimp out at any point, and pulls few punches... if any.
Get it. Get up early some morning and read it in one day. Then, know what a true horror story is.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 2001
I read FOG many years ago and bought another copy recently to reread it. The story has stuck with me through the years. The encounter of the alien with the President just floored me when I read it the first time: "Do you [aliens] believe in a God?" "We believe in punishment." How Old Testament can you get?
There are superior powers in the universe -- a chosen race? -- who have judged us wanting and are here to wipe the slate clean to further evolution of more promising worlds. Or are they? One wonders just whose side the Planet-eaters and the Benefactors are on. Perhaps they are on the same side and just want to step up the evolutionary pressure on our species. Perhaps they are waging a war between themselves by proxy. Or perhaps, like Saberhagens Bizerkers, the Planet-eaters just want to eliminate all biologic life in order to advance robot evolution. Or perhaps, there is an advanced civilization out there that wants to terminate all competing species and have the galaxy all to itself.
The book gives us the counter argument to SETI that maybe the universe is a hostile place and like the a child in the woods, we better shut up or we will be eaten by wolves. Perhaps, as Arthur C. Clarke has said, the best proof that there are extraterrestrial intelligences in the universe is that everybody is silent.
FOG is a paen to our mother Earth and a first contact scenario gone horribly wrong. We should not be so naive as to think evolution does not apply to extraterrestrials. Competition for dominance, territory, reproduction, and scarce resources will always come to play where we ever find life.
Anyone who reads it will realise how precious our planet is and Bear lovingly depicts Earth's beauty through out the book. To watch the destruction of our planet some of the characters choose Yosemite valley (my choice too) and others are forced to watch from space as The Law (Old Testament again?) requires our species to witness the Crime.
"Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you have lost til its gone." Read FOG and you will look homeward rather than spaceward to cultivate your garden.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2013
I give up. I give up on the book and Greg Bear. 170 pages in and I'm bored. The characters are so bland I just don't care about them. I have a feeling I will end hating this book for most of the reasons I hated Darwin's Radio. Every time something is about to happen the chapter ends and then in a few chapters later the characters merely talk about what happened. Is it too much to ask of Bear to describe what is happening as it is happening. Why do I have to be told what's going on in retrospect? Also, what the heck does the populace think of alien ships landing on Earth? 170 pages in and all I have gotten so far is brief news articles about a religious cult. This is a very public, world-altering event! The world is bigger than a handful of scientists, politicians, and military officials.
There are some people who think you should read the whole book before you review it or at least read half of it. However, I think I have good excuse to go ahead and quit. I've read Bear's Darwin's Radio and it had the same annoying trends. Even with my compulsion to complete a book no matter how bad it is, I just can't stomach another page and risk enduring a similar experience to the Bear's previous book I've read. I found this book and its sequel Anvil of the Stars (or whatever it's called) a dollar each in clearance section of my local used bookstore. I'm getting my 2 dollars back. Maybe somebody else will enjoy them.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 1999
Having read several of Gregs Books i have to rate this as one of the best. Forge of God is a perfect balance of science and story telling, a Tale of despair and salvation. The elusiveness and intelligence of his aliens give you a real sense of fear.The imagery in this book is spellbounding, the destruction scene at Yosemite left me speechless. It does start a little slowly but only due to a characterisation of the many different characters, which i found very enjoyable, although some of his characters are a bit thinly done. Gregs style of telling the story from several different characters perspective was a little bit annoying during the middle of the book, making it a little bit dis-jointed in places but it proved to be the books strength in the closing sequence. They Final Chapter seemed at bit rushed but it didnt detract from the overall feel but i think he had the sequel in mind when he finished writing this one. Still this book will grip you like not many others will. Try as you might you will not be able to put it down, i would find myself still reading at 3am. Greg just keeps doing it again and again, buy this book right know you wont regret it!! Im already looking forward to reading the sequel Anvil Of The Stars.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2011
There's nothing inherently wrong with creating a work of fiction having the main purpose of blowing things (in this case the Earth) to bits.
Because the agents of destruction never appear, the rest of the cast, the occupants of Earth and their good alien allies are left to carry the story. Unfortunately, they never really do much besides observe the destruction, and we're left without a team to root for.
The motives of the bad aliens are implausible: they need to crack open the Earth to gather materials to make more self-replicating robots, but there's no explanation why Earth is more desirable for that purpose than any other random planet. Possibly the bad aliens hate intelligent life too, but the late introduction of this idea only paints a little gloss over a deep blemish.
The motives of the good aliens are simply ascribed to their desire for "justice".
Overwhelmed by superior alien technology, the sad victims of the planet Earth are dependent on the benevolent opponents of the "Planet eaters" to save them. Most of the characters of the book are only brought to life to observe the final destruction. The people who die in this book are more interesting than the survivors, a difficult flaw to overcome.
I really liked Mr. Bear's "Hull 0-3", it's obvious he has talent as a writer. This book reads as though the destruction scenes were put together first, then a story was developed carelessly around them.
For a book that treats this theme much better, look for Charles Peligrino's "Killing Star".