Review: Anvil Of Stars by Greg Bear

The sequel to Greg Bear’s Forge Of God concludes some of its mysteries, but unfortunately its pacing and suspense hardly matches the former.

Description Reads:

The Forge of God described the destruction of Earth itself by self-replicating robots, Von Neumann machines designed to use the planet’s mass to create more robotic creatures and spread throughout the Galaxy. Only a few humans have survived, aided by a mysterious alien race known only as “The Benefactors”, who arrived at Earth too late.

Now the small group of human survivors is determined to track down the criminal race who launched the planet killers. Humanity is given a starship by The Benefactors, and driven only by revenge they set out to find the unknown beings who are responsible for the destruction of Earth, and many other worlds.

 

anvil-of-stars

Some Spoilers Ahead:

In this book we follow the son of one of the original characters from the previous novel, Martin, who is leading a group of other young adults on a ship designed by the mysterious machines of the alien benefactors to find the planet killers. Basically, on a mission of vengeance for Earth. The machines are present only to instruct the ‘children’ as they call themselves, on finding information and tracking the planet killing machines, but they don’t interfere otherwise.

The bulk of the novel focuses a great deal on social-political struggles within this group, and the deceit and deaths that arise from it. There are a few notable events between this slogging narrative, such as coming across derelict craft similar to their own, and an exchange of fire that somehow turns their comrades’ fighter ships to antimatter. They end up joining ships with a large worm-like alien race, who are also survivors of the planet killers.

Finally toward the end of the book, the characters stumble upon a seemingly utopian solar system, wherein many races congregate in pleasure and commerce. The crew decide to enter this system under the pretense that they are a new space faring set of races, lacking the technology that would make them seem like a threat. Martin, as blah as his personality is, can’t pinpoint whether this world is truly hiding something, or if they are completely unaware. There are trillions of inhabitants in this system, all who seem to have little knowledge of any planet killer race.

In one of the meetings with the alien hosts down on the utopian world, Martin is questioned by what he calls a ‘staircase god’ that appears to only him. It knows that they are lying about who they are, and admits that its ancestors, the planet killing race, are long dead and forgotten. They only want for peace now, and warn that the many races on the surface of the world are completely innocent and without knowledge of any of the past. Martin is unsure whether to believe this being, but confers with his crew mates and current leader, who is anxious for their job to just be done and over with.  He cannot help but weigh the job set before them, and also the trillions of innocent lives on the surface of the world about to be destroyed.

It isn’t long before the leader makes the decision for him, and starts the attack. Martin and his friends are helpless to watch as the world is destroyed in much the same fashion as Earth was. When the air clears, so to speak, the same planet killing weapons are left floating where the center of that world was. They destroy all they can find, not leaving any to chance. The crew is relieved the job is done, but the weight of guilt still remains.

The book ends with the alien companions separating ships and going their own way, and the humans searching for a new planet to settle on while dealing with the loss and hardships they’ve all suffered.

I liked the parallels of Earth’s survivors becoming killers themselves in the act of destroying the planet killers’s last weapons. Trillions of innocent lives was what it cost to prevent any further destruction from those things. A high cost that those who enacted ‘The Law’ must bare with.

The hardest part of getting through the books was its pacing and the characters’ lack of driving force. I didn’t feel enough emotion from any of them. Martin himself is wishy-washy, and even adversarial characters don’t bring enough kick to make me care about their survival much. I enjoyed the story, but found the interactions between the humans frustrating, and dull. I expected something more eventful. More violence among humans in a tin can wouldn’t have surprised me at all, but it wouldn’t necessarily need to be there. Maybe more clues about the planet killers scattered throughout their journey , or more threatening danger would’ve felt more satisfying.

I’m not sure. Like I said, I enjoyed reading it, but trucking through the middle of it was tough without more driving events or emotion.

 

More reviews coming soon! Still have two more books in the reading list to finish off.

 

 

 

 

 

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Latest Goings On

Before I get into the latest on me, let me take a moment to thank those of you that read, and have started following me. I’ve noticed a bit of higher traffic even though my posts are sporadic. I appreciate that some folks can put up with that.

On to the latest.

Firstly, you may notice a change to the website theme, and that it is no longer so dark. I had to realize at some point that reading light colored text on black background isn’t easy on the eyes. So, I switched to a much clearer and crisp layout to help avoid that.

In the meantime, I have been reworking and fleshing out a longtime project that really needs to be finished sooner than later. I found this site to be very helpful in fleshing out plots, characters, and acts in a story.

Writing A Novel Using The Snowflake Method

There is a book being sold on the subject as well at this site, but I found using just the outlines on that page to be helpful enough. I definitely recommend using this method, since it has greatly helped me get my ideas straight.

Besides writing, I have also been reading a great deal again. Just recently got into British author Neal Asher’s work, and I can’t get enough. The Polity novels have been my favorite. I really found myself loving the Transformation series. Dark Intelligence, and War Factory were amazing reads. I’m awaiting the third installment, Infinity Engine, when it releases in the US. I strongly recommend this author for those of you who love aliens, A.I.s, and far advanced tech.

The Transformation series of books is the only book I’ve ever done fan art for. I love the war drones, and a few of the alien creatures. I’ve only done two so far, but I plan to do others soon.

This one is of the war drone ‘Riss’. She was deliberately designed like a parasite that once plagued the ruthless Prador species. Just so happens that said parasites resemble a Terran snake.

riss2
“Riss, The War Drone”

 

The second piece is of the monstrous ‘Hooder’, and bio-mechincal war machines designed by an ancient alien race. They are like a horrible version of a millipede, with a front end with slicing/dicing ‘manipulators’ that pretty much dissect prey alive. I doubt I added enough of the appendages that do all that work, considering the scenes I read. It’s pretty brutal.

"The Hooder"
“The Hooder”

I’ll not spoil anymore for you. Be back soon.

Quick Update, Not Too Much Writing Lately

While ideas are still stirring in my brain, writing has taken a bit of a back seat in the last few weeks.

I have been working on the self-employment front, and just opened an Etsy shop with art and sculptures I’ve made. You can take a gander here http://www.etsy.com/shop/VividDreamStudio  

Please visit, and share with friends!

I am also keeping up with reading, and have mowed through most of the Song of Ice and Fire series from George R. R. Martin.  I’m currently on the 5th book, “A Dance With Dragons”, and I’m only a quarter of the way through. This volume is over a thousand pages, and I’m enjoying the ride so far.

I picked up two new books for my collection after receiving a gift card for Barnes & Nobles.

I picked up “The Gardner’s Handbook” so that in the event when I move to a house with a yard, I can try my hand at vegetable growing and more. I may think about a greenhouse, eventually.

The second book that popped out to me was “Samurai Battles: Japan’s Warrior Lords In 700 Years of Conflict” by Michael Sharpe. As someone who has an affinity for samurai, and warriors in general, this was a book I wanted to read. The book chronicles the history and eventual demise of the samurai. If anyone’s interested, I’ll review this one.

In other news, “The Minions” (as I’ve taken to calling them) have been growing. Recently, I adopted three new hermit crabs from owners who could no longer care for them. I now have a total of six now. The tank is much more active socially.

With these new recruits, I’ve come to question whether or not wayward influences are involved. I’ve received pinches on several occasions during tank cleaning and handling. Even from previously well-behaved individuals. I suppose it can’t be helped, as crustaceans are a stubborn bunch and often stick together.

Safety protocol will require careful or minimal handling to spare human flesh. Hehe. ^_^

I recently added a new piece of mopani driftwood to their tank, and they really seem to be enjoying it in more than one way.

Wood is high in fiber, thus making the residents a little more regular. This photo is only a small pile compared to the others that have appeared. Mopani driftwood must be tasty…

That’s all the news for now. Be back with more soon. ~ Lynn