The first sign that anything’s amiss comes to light when three young geologists stumble across an anomaly in Death Valley. A cinder cone some 500 feet tall has turned up where no map shows it ought to be. But the mystery deepens profoundly when they come across a large creature resembling a preying mantis in the lee of the hill — and claiming in near-perfect English that it bore “bad news.” The worst possible news, in fact: extraterrestrial forces were about to destroy the Earth. And that’s only the beginning of this propulsive tale of interstellar conflict by the multiple award-winning author Greg Bear.
Bear is a top-flight author who is equally adept at creating believable characters and using a sophisticated understanding of science to weave a compelling tale. The Forge of God is a complex story involving a large cast of characters and a broad swath of time and space. The story involves scenes in the Australian desert, the White House, Vandenberg Air Force Base, rural Oregon, and Yosemite as well as Death Valley — and in every instance Bear creates a credible sense of place.
The Forge of God (Forge of God #1) by Greg Bear (1987) 482 pages ★★★★★
The central characters are a former Science Advisor to the President of the United States and his family, a biologist who is his best friend, the new US President, and the three young geologists who first discovered the extraterrestrial presence. Throughout, Bear sustains the suspense, driving inexorably toward a climax that is both surprising and satisfying — and setting the scene for a sequel to follow.
A complex and rewarding tale of interstellar conflict
Because of the opening scene, The Forge of God qualifies as a First Contact novel. However, that contact plays a relatively small role in the complicated story that ensues. The book might better be described as a tale of interstellar conflict.
About the author
Greg Bear has written more than fifty science fiction novels. The Forge of God is the first of two related stories; Anvil of Stars, published five years later, is the sequel. He has won both the Hugo and the Nebula as well as many other awards. No lesser authority than Doris Lessing has called him a “great writer.” He lives in Seattle with his wife, Astrid, daughter of the fantasy and science fiction authors Poul and Karen Anderson.
For further reading
I’ve also read and enjoyed Darwin’s Radio (Darwin #1 of 2) by Greg Bear (A brilliant novel about accelerated evolution).
For more good reading, check out:
- The ultimate guide to the all-time best science fiction novels;
- Great sci-fi novels reviewed: my top 10 (plus dozens of runners-up);
- 15 First Contact novels reviewed; and
- The top 10 dystopian novels reviewed here (plus dozens of others).
You might also check out Top 10 great popular novels reviewed on this site. And you can always find my most popular reviews, and the most recent ones, plus a guide to this whole site, on the Home Page.