Posts Tagged ‘Greg Bear’

Short takes: ‘Anvil of Stars’ and ‘Roadside Picnic’

February 5, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Feb. 5, 2020

I generally try to avoid reading books that are part of a series, because I fear the time and effort it might take to finish the entire cycle. So when I checked out a digital copy of Anvil of Stars, the 1992 science-fiction novel by Greg Bear, it was without knowing that it was part of a duology. And I definitely didn’t realize that it was the back half of the pair.

There was certainly some back story, and presumably some resonance, that I missed due to not having read The Forge of God, the 1987 initial entry in what Fantastic Fiction dubs (simply enough) Bear’s Forge of God series. But I trust that I got enough of the information I needed, especially given that Anvil evidently executes a very different shift in setting and story.

From what I gather, the earlier book — set during or a short while into the future of the time the story was published — chronicled humanity’s first encounter with aliens. The visitors, who mostly take the form of self-replicating needle-shaped vehicles, turn out to be very mean; by the end of the volume, they’ve destroyed Earth.

Fortunately for us, another set of robots is nipping at the heels of the Killers. These represent a set of aliens known as the Benefactors, who save a relatively small group of survivors. Most of these (fortunate?) souls live aboard an Ark orbiting Mars as they wait for the planet to be terraformed into a hospitable environment.

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In Ship we trust? A motley crew of amnesiac astronauts battle forces they barely comprehend in Greg Bear’s ‘Hull Zero Three’

April 1, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
April 1, 2015

Greg Bear is a prolific, award-winning American science fiction author. His 2010 novel, Hull Zero Three, is the story of a traveler aboard an interstellar sleeper ship who struggles to end a conflict that threatens the vessel and its passengers.

The Ship of Hull Zero Three (it’s otherwise nameless) is akin to the Argonos of Richard Paul Russo’s Ship of Fools in that both vessels are wandering the stars, their missions unclear. But Argonos is a generation ship, capable of sustaining a fully conscious and active population for years upon end. It can also travel from one star to another in a matter of months.

Ship travels at a much lower velocity; a single journey could last hundreds of years, after which it might lack the fuel to continue to another destination. This, at least in part, explains why Bear’s vehicle is a sleeper ship. To conserve air, water, food and other supplies, few if any of the people on Ship are awake. This changes, of course, when people are needed to deal with an emergency or some other important event, such as an impending planetfall.

In fact, Ship doesn’t necessarily convey people as such — rather, it has a genetic Catalog and the equipment and resources needed to grow the bodies and brains that it needs to handle the situation. The vessel can also implant memories and knowledge in the minds it creates.

But Ship’s voyage has gone awry. The vessel has stalled in the void as unknown forces battle for control of its systems.

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