Discussion Board

Topic: Forge of God

From: David Lewis
Location: Chico, CA
Date: 03/15/2010

Mr. Bear: I came across your name in an old interview with Doris Lessing, where she brings you up as an example of a fine (science fiction) writer. Always eager to read someone new, I visited the library to find Blood Plague, but as they didn't have it I came home with Forge of God. Having read it, I can only say I am completely confused. Leaving aside personal issues (whether or not I find characters such as xyz interesting or attractive...), the story seems to me consist of an unknown assailant carrying out an unimaginably heinous crime; another unknown agent working to help a small fragment of humanity survive; that small fragment now being charged with carrying out a similarly heinous act (punishment???) on the original perpetrators. Have I missed anything? It left in me an acrid, rotten taste, particularly knowing that there was more to come. It seems to me that writing a novel is a tremendous amount of work -- What did you have in mind when you wrote the book? When you finished, what gave you the most satisfaction about your creation? What were you exploring? Everything (everything!) that was offered as a response to the situation was revealed to be insignificant, meaningless, or worse. A slice of humanity was saved, then immediately given marching orders to do exactly what humanity would tend to do anyway -- to what end?
Well, in the event you care to respond, I would like to hear your thoughts. Regards, D. Lewis

Re: Forge of God

From: Greg Bear
Date: 03/26/2010

Thanks, David! FORGE OF GOD is indeed a pretty intense and unforgiving novel. But the motives and schemes are pretty well spelled out, and certainly followed through in ANVIL OF STARS. The pair are about murder and vengeance. BLOOD MUSIC is the title you're looking for, which Doris commented on so kindly.

Re: Forge of God

From: Paul Houle
Location: Ithaca NY
Date: 03/29/2010

I agree with Dave that it's a disturbing novel; it's lingered in my mind for a long time. It's one of those few books, like Frederick Pohl's "Gateway" that have taken Science Fiction to a higher intensity.

Anvil Of Stars follows it, but is something entirely different. It stretches the bounds of sci-fi and leaves me feeling a mixture of grief, wonder and excitement.

I appreciate that Bear knows his physics, knows that fission, fusion and concentrated solar energy aren't sufficient for star travel, so he postulates an alien technology based on inexpensive conversion of matter to antimatter. How I wish I could unbreak that symmetry, Greg.

Re: Forge of God

From: qiiiss
Location:
Date: 03/31/2010

While I adore an 'omniscient view' of an author's universe, I realise that sometimes such a view would dispel a particular story. Many of them, actually. I think people forget that an author's aim may be to emulate the real world, as closely as possible.

Re: Forge of God

From: Greg Bear
Date: 04/10/2010

HULL 03 (coming from Orbit this fall) takes a different tack on interstellar travel...

Re: Forge of God

From: David
Location: Chico
Date: 04/11/2010

Hi qiiiss: I see your point. A line from the book that remained with me was when one character (forgot who) notes that the universe is 'a jungle...' But there is no jungle that features dynamics like those described in the book. The insect and animal world are pretty simple, and vengeance appears not to play a role. Only with humans (and perhaps occasionally apes) do you see behavior like that.

Re: Forge of God

From: CAllenDoudna
Location: Grand Island, Nebraska
Date: 04/14/2010

Well if you want a differnt tack on space travel how about just screwing a lightbulb on the back of a spaceship? A light bulb would provide about as much thrust as an ion engine without any of the tricky glitches inherrent in ion propulsion. Of course you could have a bank of stadium lights for a large spaceship, or you could screw a 40-watt bulb on the back of your kids' bicycles and they could go pedaling around the solar system--or among the intersteller comets--and be back home in time for lunch.

Re: Forge of God

From: Greg Bear
Date: 05/07/2010

Vengeance arises in social animals, but anger is pretty common throughout nature. If we look on vengeance as a complex series of chemical/emotional responses, then similar forces no doubt operate throughout nature--and when we say "It's a jungle out there," we mean, all bets are off!

Re: Forge of God

From: Greg Bear
Date: 05/07/2010

A spacesuit and a flashlight... But no potty breaks!

Re: Forge of God

From: Al Brady
Location: st neots
Date: 05/21/2010

I always found the idea that the iron logic of survival of the fittest and market economics would rule the galaxy so chilling. Reefs are full of life but/therefore are home to the most poisonous, tenacious species, engaged in constant struggle just to not die. That we are too simple-minded or disorganised as a species to take the hint about silence from the Fermi Paradox is equally frightening.

Re: Forge of God

From: Greg Bear
Date: 05/28/2010

Agreed. Biochem warfare is the norm on the reef!

Re: Forge of God

From: Al Brady
Location: St Neots
Date: 06/03/2010

Essential. That or good camoflage or a friendly client relationship with someone powerful. I suppose our only hope is that with immense power comes compassion, a la The Culture. I remember first reading Macroscope as a teenager and seeing how unlikely that was, in that every economic model we have developed requires growth, and that inevitably results in Easter Island. In polynesia, islands (ie star systems in the reef) were surrounded by neighbours all running out of resources and warring till everything was used up. Then they all died.
Stephen Baxter covered this theme too I remember.
Theres an excellent short story called The Pardoners Tail that talks about how The Entities turned up and enslaved us one day, just like that. In the context of the reef that might be getting off lightly. Makes you hope we are alone...

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