Review: The Forge of God by Greg Bear

Rating:

The Forge of God by Greg Bear
1987, Tor

Review Summary: Overall an okay book, a little short on the science end as well as the human interaction, but showing a fondness for our planet. While it sets up some of the tone for the sequel, I don’t know that it is really necessary to read this one first. In fact, I would recommend skipping it and just going ahead with Anvil of Stars, which is worthwhile reading.

Full Review:

Essentially, I went out of my way to pick up The Forge of God after realizing that the book I had initially picked up from Uncle Hugo’s was a sequel. I held back from reading Anvil of Stars, choosing to wait until I’d read the first book.

While the characterization of Arthur Gordon, one of the people portrayed pretty well throughout the novel, is interesting in that we can see echoes and the imprint of the man on his son in the later book, I didn’t really find anything of interest here that wasn’t already done – and done better – by David Brin’s Earth. Whereas Brin successfully pulls together several different character sets, and flawlessly merges them with the various blogs, sound-byte newscasts, chat sessions, and various other multimedia of the near future, it is sometimes hard to connect and sympathize with the characters in Bear’s The Forge of God, and the infrequent news articles posted as a way of showing the world’s general sense of confusion aren’t really all that interesting or enlightening.

One thought that Bear did examine closely which I thought had an eerie resemblance to certain other current events was his portrayal of a President who suffers a major shock and lapses into a kind of religious-inspired apathy, believing the coming end of the world to be sanctioned by a higher power and not to be resisted. Also, the President’s accumulation of experts and advisors – strictly for show, since he doesn’t actually listen to them or follow their advice – was a little frightening as well, and perhaps a little prescient, according to some opinions.

A lack of any attempt by humanity to escape the planet did seem a little unrealistic to me, I thought. Absolutely no plans were floated about escaping the earth, even for the escape of a handful of people via shuttles or space stations or whatever – however inadequate such plans would have been. I think someone would have attempted the like, but then again 1987 was before the X-plane projects and orbiting hotels and millionaires buying trips on the shuttles and space station, so maybe the attitude is more reflective of the times than I would think.

Overall an okay book, a little short on the science end as well as the human interaction, but showing a fondness for our planet. While it sets up some of the tone for the sequel, I don’t know that it is really necessary to read this one first. In fact, I would recommend skipping it and just going ahead with Anvil of Stars, which is worthwhile reading.
09/06/06 CSL

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