Books: The Forge of God

Having decided to read something else by Greg Bear (after reading Dinosaur Summer), I chose The Forge of God.  I’ve read a number of post-apocalyptic science fiction stories, usually where humans are the cause of worldwide destruction. This is the first I can think of that I’ve read – from a sci-fi perspective anyway – about the time period before the end of the world.

It’s not humans who threaten to cause their own doom; aliens from some unknown place in the universe are the villains here. They send out machines that destroy planets, presumably to re-make them in a form more suited to the aliens. The science behind the means of the expected destruction is explained in some detail, though my knowledge of those areas of science isn’t enough to know how convincing the scenarios are.

What is of more interest to me is how different people react to the prospect of not only their own death but the end of humanity. Some want to fight back, even if they can’t change the ultimate outcome. Some turn to religion, convinced that the aliens are acting as agents of God’s judgment. Some try to squeeze in all the enjoyable experiences they can have before the end. Others seem overwhelmed by anger, fear, and or despair.

Hardly anyone just goes on with life as usual. Parents keep their children home from school. Businesses fail to deliver products on their normal schedules so stores run out of fresh food.

I can’t say how I would react if I knew for certain that the end was coming in the near future. But it has always made sense to me that one should live in such a way that, if one were to find out that death was coming soon, there would be no need to start living differently. I’m not saying I succeed in living up to that ideal, but I can’t think of major changes I think I would make if I found out I were dying (in a sense other than the way we all are).

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