The Forge of God

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{system, computer, user}
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{god, call, give}
{ship, engine, design}

The Forge of God is a 1987 science fiction novel by American writer Greg Bear. Earth faces destruction when an inscrutable and overwhelming alien form of life attacks.

The Forge of God was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1987,[1] and was also nominated for the Hugo and Locus Awards in 1988.[2]



The novel features scenes and events including the discovery of a near-dead alien in the desert, who clearly says in English, "I'm sorry, but there is bad news," and this alien's subsequent interrogation and autopsy; the discovery of an artificial geological formation and its subsequent nuclear destruction by a desperate military; and the Earth's eventual destruction by the mutual annihilation of a piece of neutronium and a piece of antineutronium dropped into Earth's core.

There is another alien faction at work, however, represented on Earth by small spider-like robots that recruit human agents through some form of mind control. They frantically collect all the human data, biological records, tissue samples, seeds, and DNA from the biosphere that they can, and evacuate a handful of people from Earth. In space, this faction's machines combat and eventually destroy the attackers, though not before Earth's fate is sealed. The evacuees eventually settle a newly terraformed Mars while some form the crew of a Ship of the Law to hunt down the home world of the killers, a quest described in the sequel, Anvil of Stars.

One of the point of view characters is Arthur Gordon, a scientist who, with his wife Francine and son Martin is among those rescued from the destruction of Earth. Some other characters are close to an American president who fails to take action against the threat.

The two books show at least one solution to the Fermi paradox, with electromagnetically noisy civilisations being snuffed out by the arrival of self-replicating machines designed to destroy any potential threat to their (possibly long-dead) creators. (A similar theme is explored in Fred Saberhagen's Berserker novels.)

Cultural reference

It features a character, Lawrence Van Cott, that is modelled on science fiction author Larry Niven, whose full name is "Laurence van Cott Niven".


In the early 2000s, The Forge of God and Anvil of Stars, as well as an as-yet-unwritten third book, were optioned by Warner Bros. to be made into movies. It was reported that Stephen Susco worked on a script for The Forge Of God. In July 2006 Greg Bear mentioned on his website that the movie is "Still under option. Studio engaged in 'silent running.' "[3]

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