Anvil of Stars
In this sequel to FORGE OF GOD (in which alien machines that can reproduce themselves annihilate Earth), Hugo and Nebula Award winning author Greg Bear traces the attempts of some of Earth’s survivors to carry out “the Law,” which states that beings who arbitrarily destroy inhabited planets must themselves be destroyed.
The eighty-four human “Wendys” and “Lost Boys” who engage in this quest are adolescents chosen by machines they call “moms.” These machines (which have rescued a portion of Earth’s inhabitants and maintain them in a space vessel called the “Ark,” prior to relocating them on Mars, which they have re-formed to accommodate them) train and support their charges in the name of the “Benefactors,” beings who oversee a galactic amalgam of civilizations dedicated to opposing the “Killers,” beings who have set about to destroy civilizations they can neither abide nor ultimately control.
It is the “Job” of the survivors of these Killers to find and destroy them, less for revenge than in the name of a kind of biblical justice. In ANVIL OF STARS, however, conflict among the killers’ foes threatens their mission. Martin Gordon, the main character, and for a time “Pan” or leader of the group, having lost his lovers William and Theresa in an ill-fated attack on a solar system rife with Killer technology, comes to doubt not only himself but the efficacy of the Job itself. As a result, he finds himself caught in the middle between Hans, his aggressive and heartless successor as Pan, and Rosa Sequoia, a self-styled religious visionary who opposes the Job.
With the help of the “Brothers,” an alien race whose planet, like theirs, has been destroyed, Martin and his fellows discover what seems to be the Killers’ homeworld, the Leviathan solar system. Through a complex series of deceptions on both sides, war is joined; the representatives of the Law win, annihilating their guilty, as well as innocent, opponents, and alienating the Brothers and those among themselves who are nauseated by such carnage.
ANVIL OF STARS, beyond its skillful clarification of exotic science and technology and its epic and suspenseful plot, relies on rich characterization to show that good and evil are not as clear as they seem at first, and that those who evoke and carry out a justice neither subtle nor forgiving can become as monstrous and destructive as their adversaries.