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Anvil of Stars by Greg Bear

Anvil of Stars (1992)

by Greg Bear

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Forge of God (2)

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Greg Bear is one of my favorite authors, but some of his more recent books have not been to my taste. This one however, is classic science fiction. It is not quite as good as the "prequel", The Forge of God, but it is an excellent read. The book starts slowly, so when you read it, persevere. The pace picks up and accelerates as the book becomes a classic page-turner. It is ripe for a sequel. Highly recommended. ( )
  rondoctor | Jun 26, 2015 |
Follow-up to "Forge of God", very different book. Small-group social dynamics in a pressure cooker, and amazing cosmology. Just following the physics is a delight. Survivors of the destruction of Earth, a large crew of young adults are chosen by the alien Benefactors who save a sliver of mankind. They are sent to find the "Killers", a civilization that spawns Berzerker-style robots to destroy all other life. Follows in the footsteps of "Ender's Game" and other "children at war" novels, with characters who must wage interstellar battle while agonizing over the morality of destruction. ( )
  Clevermonkey | May 29, 2014 |
Not bad in the end but nothing like Forge of God, of which this book is a sequel. Two totally different and bearly related novels. Good science, good story if slightly long winded, and annoying characters. ( )
  sf_addict | Mar 7, 2013 |
My reactions to reading this book in 1992. Spoilers follow.

I found this, a sequel to Bear’s very enjoyable – and different – Forge of God, to be surprisingly slow going, tedious. The book seemed to move slowly yet not provide much of the nitty-gritty detail of shipboard life on the Dawn Treader. Much of the technology was of the superscience variety (the ladders, the fields, the ship which could – presumbably through a form of nanotechnology – reorganize its mass and shape) and, not having reread the Forge of God, the weapons were little more than names since their function was little described. In fact, through a long book, Bear’s style was altogether too sketchy for me.

I did like isolated elements (the struggle between flaky prophet Rosa and Hans was interesting and reminded me of the mediaeval struggle between Church and State; ruthless, intuitively correct, obsessive, man-of-action Hans was an interesting portrait of an effective but tyrannical, deceitful leader as opposed to the fair-minded but somewhat ineffective Martin; I liked the anti-matter converting trap of the Killers and their elaborate system; the information theory enabling manipulation matter; the elaborate system of the Killers; I even liked the Brothers.

But the novel as a whole never engaged my feelings. I really didn’t feel the characters pain and only some of their doubts on their mission of vengeance (I certainly never thought the act of vengeance was wrong – only an uncertainity as to the rightful targets of it). I thought Bear could have made a much more powerful statement and ending if he left it in the air as to the Killer presence in the destroyed system (and I’m usually not in favor of ambiguous endings) rather than conclusively showing that the system should have been destroyed. ( )
  RandyStafford | Jan 22, 2013 |
A very different book to "The Forge of God", "Anvil of Stars" continues the story of the survivors of the destruction of Earth. A handful of survivors were rescued by an alien group called the Benefactors, and the youngest generation of survivors are sent forth to track down the originators of the von Neumann probes that destroyed the Earth. Their task is to carry out The Law – races that build destructive von Neumann probes must themselves be destroyed in a sort of interstellar lex talonis (‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth’). The Benefactors provide the nominated survivors with the tools for The Job – a ship and super weapons.

We join the protagonists on board the Ship of the Law 'Dawn Treader', searching for the rogue civilisation. The society these humans, barely out of their teens, has created is modelled heavily on Earth children’s tales and mythology; the ship’s name is, of course, drawn from C.S. Lewis’ 'Narnia' books, and they refer to themselves as Lost Boys and Wendys, in reference to Peter Pan. The first section of the book is highly claustrophobic, and the combination of endless military training and a closed society of young people gives the whole story an air of being a combination of "Ender’s Game" and "Lord of the Flies".

A target system is identified, and the crew set out to enforce the Law. But the system is a decoy, and the attack barely succeeds, and only at considerable cost in loss of life. The pov character, the leader, Martin (son of the main protagonist of "The Forge of God"), relinquishes his position and a new leader takes the ship to the next target.

In the meantime, the ship is first of all directed to another Ship of the Law, a derelict, from which the crew retrieve records of a dead race who had the same Job, and failed. And then they rendezvous with a third Ship, whose alien crew are potential allies. These aliens are well-drawn, and certainly have little in common with the humans in form, biology and thought; their mathematics does not rely on integers, and they live as composite lifeforms, communicating by audible and olfactory senses.

Although they are quite likeable, some of the human crew cannot adjust to living and working in proximity – yet they have to press home their attack on the system now identified as the home of the builders of the original weapons. But are the inhabitants of this system all they seem? Are they the people who built the weapons that destroyed Earth? Or have those original builders died out, or moved on? And even if their descendants are the beings the crew encounter, to what extent is it right to impose a punishment on what might be an entire innocent civilisation?

There are no definitive answers, of course; so how valid is The Law? And what is the real obligation on the Lost Boys and Wendys to see it through? Whereas "The Forge of God" is pretty much a straightforward disaster story, "Anvil of Stars" asks a range of difficult questions, and also shows what happens when laws that were created a long time ago have to be enacted in the here and now. ( )
  RobertDay | Dec 16, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Greg Bearprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Eggleton, BobCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Puckey, DonaldCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rodgers, NickCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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For Dan Garrett, cousin and friend
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Marty sits in the front seat of his father's Buick, riding along a freeway in Oregon at midsummer twilight.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0446364037, Mass Market Paperback)

The acclaimed author of Eternity offers a compelling sequel to his visionary Forge of God. Earth is gone, completely destroyed by a ruthless alien. Hundreds of years away, a handful of exiles hurtles through the galaxies in a quest for revenge, armed with powers they do not understand--and determined to find and punish the killers who murdered their world.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:20 -0400)

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Follows the mission of a select group of human survivors as they search in the Ship of Law for the aliens who destroyed their planet.

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