The Forge of God – Greg Bear

Having dipped my toes in the world of Goodreads, this was one of the site’s recommendations, based on my previous reading (as submitted to the site). It was available at a good price from the Book Depository (including shipping) and so, having decided it looked interesting,  after a couple of clicks it was on its way to join my Shabbat reading bundle.

And interesting is a good overall description of the book.  The story? It begins with the sudden and unexplained disappearance of Europa (a moon orbiting Jupiter). The public is not that interested.

This is followed up by the appearance of new mounds on Earth – in the USA and Australia. The USA site sprouts a little green man. The Australian site sprouts three alien flying robots.

Who are the aliens? What is their mission? How does planet Earth react?

From here on, the plot goes in an interesting (that word, again!) direction, which I will not spoil by revealing. It should be enough to know that there are some good pieces of action, with some believable and well drawn characters. There are also some characters whose purpose is unclear. And there are moments when the book gets stuck in high introspective overdrive.

The science stuff is reasonably clear. but there were a couple of passages I had to reread to get the gist of what was going on.

The other aspect to be aware of is that this is a 1980’s book set in the 1990’s, and the future that is portrayed was not wholly accurate. For example, and most obviously, the absence of mobile phones jars somewhat.

The finale is shocking, and it is in the closing stages that the author sharpens his message and his craft. I much more enjoyed the last quarter of the book than the rest.

However, I still did not ‘get’ the alien strategy and despite a couple of attempts in the book to explain the logic of it all, it remained unconvincing to me. But, if I ignored it,my reading experience was more enjoyable. I suspect most readers will overlook that aspect anyway.

I’m glad I read it, I largely enjoyed it, and it gave me something to think about on more than one occasion. A good read. An interesting read.