The Forge of God

The Forge of God - Greg Bear “We’ve never had a President go nuts in office. Not since Nixon, anyway.” In the mood for some alien invasion fun I picked this from a selection and boy, did I luck out. This is a great big cheeseburger of a novel, a page turner with a great hook that follows through and muddies the waters most pleasingly. It’s my idea of the perfect beach read, in fact. Nothing too challenging, just thoroughly enjoyable and, at the description-tastic finale, affecting. Calling it an alien invasion story is an over-simplification, I feel – it’s certainly not military SF – and it’s several tens of IQ points more intelligent than the subsequent ‘Independence Day’ (which, phew-ee, really suffers in comparison). Yes, we have multiple protagonists, various religious types making mischief and a ring side seat with the President (who moves very far away from triumphant speechifying; I suspect Bush Jnr would have reacted in a similar manner to this President) but at the same time we have lots of sounds-plausible sciencey material. Black holes drilling to the core of the Earth, von Neumann devices shaped like spiders and the like. You sense Bear actually asked real scientists how, and why, the world might be brought to its knees and best of all he doesn’t wimp out. You begin reading this thinking “I wonder how is this going to pan out” then with mounting horror as events unfold. I also note Bear runs some personal bereavements and loss of homes alongside the main event so the whole thing doesn’t get too abstract. A great read, so much so I’m very grateful I can now go straight onto the sequel rather than endure what must have been a hellish wait back in 1987.