Customer Reviews: The Forge of God
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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.
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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!
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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.
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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, 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.
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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.
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on August 26, 2015
You may have read The Forge Of God back in 1987 and if you revisit it today, almost a generation later, it’s still so fresh and dark and imposing, that after 500 pages in two sittings, you may feel you owe the writer an apology for not having reread it for so long.

I feel I owe him a review.

There are hundreds of end of the world novels out there, with more and more coming out every year. It seems like the end of the world is the beginning of a career for many a young writers. However, most of their endings feel artificial, more like a writer’s whim to wipe out a planet, and leave a handful of humans around to serve her literary, if any, wishes.

This is not the case with the Forge of God. The end does not come via mysterious viruses, zombification, or natural phenomena. In Greg Bear’s novel, winter is not coming. Something much worse is.

“We've been sitting in our tree chirping like foolish birds for over a century now, wondering why no other birds answered. The galactic skies are full of hawks, that’s why.”

From start to finish, this is believable science fiction at its best. And not just believable with a small concession, but in a documentary, National Geographic prime time, only the facts way. The Forge of God is also one of the very rare examples of hard science fiction being able to strike a soft chord inside any reader.

And what about the characters one may ask. Well, one has to confess that the biggest character of them all, Gaea, gives, literally, the performance of her life.

Forge of God, along with its sequel Anvil Of Stars are recommended for reading and rereading.
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The moon Europa disappears and scientists are in turmoil. Meanwhile two space ships are found camouflaged on the Earth and perhaps even a third exists. One alien from the first ship warns of the end of the Earth and robots from the second promise exchange of information and an alliance of races.

How would the leaders of our world react to the knowledge that the Earth will be destroyed by alien forces using technology that our best scientists barely understand? How would the general population react to their own pending demise? Two opposing forces are in a battle in space. They are the planet eaters and the saviors. Who will win and what will happen to mankind....

This is an excellent book and I enjoyed reading it. Our world appears to be doomed and yet there is nothing we can do to rescue it. Do we go out with a whimper and not a bang by fighting back? The background plans of the aliens begin to unfold and the main characters of the story are nicely developed and used in the storyline. Greg Bear has a great story here and once I started reading it I was engrossed in finishing the book. Those are the books that are fun to read when that happens!

It makes you wonder what would happen if an aggressive alien race would take it upon themselves to cleanse the universe of other intelligent races and make the stars safe for themselves. We are like children technologically against them and stand no chance. Greg Bear did an excellent job of depicting how politicians, leaders and people would react.

I almost didn't get or read this book due to the negative reviews and I am glad I didn't listen to them and purchased it to read. I enjoyed the story. The book is not without fault. The Kindle version was obviously optically scanned into digital format and there are dozens of typographical errors in the text. It could have used a good proof reader to fix these errors. Issues like this make me stop reading to try to interpret what the sentence is supposed to say and then I highlight the error. These little breaks in reading for me disrupt the flow of the story. It needs to be fixed and updated.

I still rated the book as a 5 star story as I like the characters, the science in the story and how it was presented. I have read multiple books by Greg Bear and I enjoyed several of them. This is one of the good ones!
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on June 3, 2015
I have several problems with this book and the first two are not the fault of the author.

First, the Kindle version of this book was obviously obtained by optically scanning a printed copy. It is filled with typical scanning errors which I immediately recognized since I digitized printed material for my local school district for years. There was a particular problem with words containing the "li" letter pair so that the reader frequently comes across non-words like "factionaiized", "iiar" (as in "Maybe our bogey is a iiar.") and "Uves" substituted for "lives" in the phrase "every day in our lives" . But there are many other ridiculous mistakes as in the name "Yerba Buena Island" displayed as "Yerba 3uena Island". If it was impossible for someone to proofread this book after scanning it, how hard would it have been to at least run a spell-checker over it?

Second, this book has become badly dated. It is really only obvious because there is so much technology and information handling discussed in the story. The period is before the creation of the World Wide Web. Reading about technical people trying to obtain useful information from bulletin board services just makes for unintentional humor.


Thirdly, this book is one of the most depressing books I can remember reading. Most of the second half is filled with unending existentialist hand-wringing. Characters continually whine about impending doom and whether man deserves it. Page after page of fatalistic ramblings wore me down and it took me much longer to read the last half of the book than the first.

On a more positive note - the first half of the book (or more) was a pretty good "first contact" story and, while this was not my favorite, many readers might appreciate the author's ability to impart such an overwhelming feeling of doom through much of the story.
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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.
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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.
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