The Anvil of Stars / Forge of God Critical Essays

Greg Bear


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Greg Bear’s sensitivity to sophisticated literary technique places him among the new breed of literary-minded science-fiction writers, including Gregory Benford and David Brin, who have blurred the traditional barriers between high literature and science fiction. In addition, although he holds a degree in English, Bear’s painstaking scientific accuracy in such diverse fields as theoretical physics, astrophysics, sociology, psychology, biology, and geology places him in the line of great scientist-writers such as Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. Bear shares with Clarke, and with Clarke’s pre-decessor Olaf Stapledon, a vision of human potential that can transcend apocalypse to survive in a previously unimaginable form, as in Clarke’s Childhood’s End (1953) and as in Bear’s own Blood Music (1985), winner of a 1984 Hugo Award and a 1983 Nebula Award in its novella form (1983). Bear’s vision of human potential is both frightening and optimistic: optimistic because it is transcendental but frightening because the transcendentalism is materialistic rather than theological.

Theological transcendentalism posits an anthropomorphic God guiding humans to some destined end. In contrast, Bear’s futures grow out of an interplay of three elements: the material universe, chance, and human choice. The title The Forge of God ostensibly suggests that God is testing, purifying, and shaping humankind through the destruction of...

(The entire section is 573 words.)