Title: The Forge of God
Author: Greg Bear
Space aliens invading the Earth has been a major theme in science fiction since the nineteenth century, and the number of books and films with this as the major plot device is innumerable. So, is it still possible to add something significant to this huge body of creativity? Yes, of course it is, but it’s exceedingly difficult, and I can think of only two ways: either you write something which has been written before, but you do it a lot better; or, perhaps more likely, you come up with a unique idea and actually manage to write something original.
Reading a plot introduction to Greg Bear’s The Forge of God, I thought that the book would sort into either of the above mentioned categories. Being nominated both for a Hugo and a Nebula for best novel in 1988, it should at least make a good attempt at being fantastic, or at least readable. Sadly, after reading two thirds of the book and still with no originality in sight, I gave up. I went on to read a synopsis to see how the story would end, to see if it looked worthwhile to continue. It didn’t. This is the first book I’ve given up reading since I was a kid.
In other words, this is the dullest book I’ve read in quite a while. It is also one of the worst, but not because the author is inept, but rather because he just completely fails to engage my interest. It offers nothing new whatsoever, not even a little bit. It does what others have done before and in a way I’ve seen too many times. The story starts of promisingly with an alien being found in the desert, telling the humans that it’s sorry, because it’s got bad news: the Earth will shortly be destroyed. However, more signs of alien activity are found and the situations grows more and more complicated with stories contradicting each other. Is this a plan to take over the Earth by confusing the inhabitants to death? It is a unique take on the invasion theme, but the problem is that Bear’s writing is slow, dull and focuses entirely on the wrong things.
The Forge of God is about the invasion more than the people in the story, which would have been acceptable if the invasion was interesting. Since it isn’t, the book collapses into a black hole that consumes time but gives nothing back to the reader. I have better things to do with my time than reading this. I had plans to read Moving Mars by the same author, and I might actually still do it, because if the concept is cool enough, I think Greg Bear might make it worthwhile (in other words, I don’t think he’s incompetent per se, just that this book is really not for me). With the Forge of God, he failed utterly and deserves no more than one snail. If you want to read worthwhile invasion novels, check out War of the Worlds, Spin or The Puppet Masters, none of them brilliant, but each with its own merits.