The Forge Of God by Greg Bear is quite an old science-fiction book, written in 1987 and set in 1996. It tells a very convincing and plausible story of how, after decades pouring radio emissions into space, actively searching for extraterrestrial intelligence, we could just as easily attract the attention of those who seek us harm rather than the hoped-for, beneficent bringers of new technology.
Here's the short description from the back cover, just to set the scene...
1996. Europa, one of Jupiter's moons, suddenly disappears; it is as though it never existed.
Shortly after, a mysterious mound, evidently a disguised spaceship, is found in the California desert. Beside it lies a dying alien creature, which when approached says very clearly, "I am sorry, but there is bad news."
But Australia doesn't think so, for another spaceship has landed there, carrying friendly robots who promise a new era of peace and plenty.
Is all this linked? Arthur Gordon, recently science advisor to the President, cannot escape the feeling that something very terrible indeed is about to happen...
This is a very well crafted story that you won't want to put down. Indeed, you have to resist the urge to turn to the back and see how it turns out. I really want to tell you what happens but it'd ruin it for anyone that wants to read it. Suffice to say that nothing is as straightforward as it seems and the story develops at a fairly steady pace. The physics and science involved seem genuinely feasible enough and it includes a very good mix of politics and well-detailed characters, each dealing in their own way with the growing realisation that the end of the world may very well be in sight.
There's a sequel called Anvil Of Stars and a potential movie deal for a three parter, comprising The Forge Of God, Anvil Of Stars and one still to be written book, in the pipeline with Warner Brothers. That movie deal was negotiated back in 2002 with no obvious progress to date and frankly, I don't think the studios would ever want to make it without some radical changes - this is no Independence Day. However I'm definitely going to try and get hold of Anvil Of Stars to see what happens next.
Genre: Science Fiction
My Rating: 7/10