cover image Anvil of Stars

Anvil of Stars

Greg Bear. Warner Books, $19.95 (434pp) ISBN 978-0-446-51601-3

A knotty philosophical question--how moral is ``eye for an eye'' revengesince it's a said to be a `question' -- preoccupies Bear in this provocative and entertaining follow-up to Forge of God . The earlier book described the destruction of earth by self-replicating roots who wanted to use the planet's mass to create more robotic creatures. Now a small group of human survivors is determined to achieve justice by tracking down the criminal race and destroying their home system. The band of survivors, which includes women and children, have borrowed a starship--called the Ship of the Law and made of ``fragments of the Earth's corpse''--from friendly aliens, and with it they scour the universe until they locate the aberrant society and exact revenge. Employing plausible new hard-science concepts, Bear fashions an action-packed and often thrilling plot; by using each of the well-depicted alien races to mirror human behavior, he defines what it means to be Homo sapiens. Bear draws on the full range of his gifts `top of his form' in another second-drop review here, seamlessly pulling together action since `plot' so nearly synonymous with `story' below and characterization to create `fashion' used above a gripping story. (May)