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Blood Music

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Vergil Ulam has created cellular material that can outperform rats in laboratory tests. When the authorities rule that he has exceeded his authorization, Vergil loses his job, but is determined to take his discovery with him. This is a novel Greg Bear wrote in 1985. For novelette by the same name written in 1983 and published in Analog magazine see here: Blood Music. Vergil Ulam has created cellular material that can outperform rats in laboratory tests. When the authorities rule that he has exceeded his authorization, Vergil loses his job, but is determined to take his discovery with him. This is a novel Greg Bear wrote in 1985. For novelette by the same name written in 1983 and published in Analog magazine see here: Blood Music.


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Vergil Ulam has created cellular material that can outperform rats in laboratory tests. When the authorities rule that he has exceeded his authorization, Vergil loses his job, but is determined to take his discovery with him. This is a novel Greg Bear wrote in 1985. For novelette by the same name written in 1983 and published in Analog magazine see here: Blood Music. Vergil Ulam has created cellular material that can outperform rats in laboratory tests. When the authorities rule that he has exceeded his authorization, Vergil loses his job, but is determined to take his discovery with him. This is a novel Greg Bear wrote in 1985. For novelette by the same name written in 1983 and published in Analog magazine see here: Blood Music.

30 review for Blood Music

  1. 4 out of 5

    karen

    I HAVE BEEN TOLD THIS REVIEW IS SPOILERY!! BEWARE!! (dude, you seriously want an audio version of this??) so i read this because bird-brian told me to. i don't know that i am the best person to review sci-fi books. i have zero background in the genre, but for whatever reason, brian thought it would be amusing if i reviewed this. so i will try. soooo - okay - quick plot for you plotty folks out there - genius bad boy scientist gets fired from job for meddling with mammalian cells and conducting exp I HAVE BEEN TOLD THIS REVIEW IS SPOILERY!! BEWARE!! (dude, you seriously want an audio version of this??) so i read this because bird-brian told me to. i don't know that i am the best person to review sci-fi books. i have zero background in the genre, but for whatever reason, brian thought it would be amusing if i reviewed this. so i will try. soooo - okay - quick plot for you plotty folks out there - genius bad boy scientist gets fired from job for meddling with mammalian cells and conducting experiments outside of his job description. before he gets booted to the curb with his cardboard box, he surreptitiously injects many of his little cells into his own body so he can continue his experiments in the privacy of his own home. oops. once inside his body, they start housekeeping a little. they are like sentient little roombas, fixing his allergies and his eyesight - gentrifying his insides so the nice noocytes can move in and go condo. they make it all better, like when my super put potted plants in my foyer. suddenly, he is stronger and thinner and he can have sexual intercourse FOUR times in a single evening with a girl who approaches him in a bar and then moves in!! he is like jeff goldblum in the fly - he is better than human; he contains multitudes!! and they communicate with him in his miiiind!! but then, much like poor jeff goldblum, he begins to deteriorate. but in this book, he takes everyone with him. and the world goes ffwwoosshh. and that's when it gets a little "huh?" for me. so north america is pretty much gone. people turn into like jello?? and so this "slow" girl survives. why?? no one knows - i guess she is the only sped in north america and the noocytes can't be bothered fixing her, and then the mother of the now-gelatinized bad boy scientist - she survives because... yeah, well no one knows, and then twin brothers (eeeek) survive because they have a lot of pesticide-exposure?? okay, i can buy that. and then the twins meet up with old science-mama as they flee the rapidly-changing landscape?? sure, makes sense - the USA is not that big after all. but slow girl goes to live in the world trade center (i pour out my 40-ounce) where she is visited by three ghosts who bring her food and... yeah, i don't understand any of this part. again - i don't read a lot of sci-fi. is it traditional in sci-fi that the sci- takes over the more traditional elements of storytelling like characterization?? or is this more of a criticism of a particular kind of science fiction from a particular time (the eighties). because these characters were pretty one-dimensional. and there isn't really a main character because the one you assume will be the main character knocks off pretty quickly... as do the rest...it reminded me a lot of on the beach, which book seemed so unrealistic to me in the way that people just quietly accepted their fate without changing their day-to-day routines... dummies. i have to confess - i have no idea what happened in the post-noocyte takeover of north america. why there were four people left knocking around the whole fucking continent - what their stories were meant to contribute to the greater story - i am at a loss here, guys... i am also at a loss here: "first you need to find a length of viral DNA that codes for topoisomerases and gyrases. you attach this segment to your target DNA and make it easier to lower the linking number - to negatively supercoil your target molecule. i used ethidium in some earlier experiments..." *zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz* "what you want is to add and subtract lengths of input DNA easily, and the feedback enzyme arrangement does this. when the feedback enzyme is in place, the molecule will open itself up for transcription much more easily, and more rapidly. your program will be transcribed onto two strings of RNA. one of the RNA strings will go to a reader - a ribosome - for translation into a protein. initially, the first RNA will carry a simple start-up code" sorry, i totally drifted off there, greg bear. (greg bear also wrote the book moving mars which greg stahl is always talking about. we saw it yesterday during our bookstore jaunting. this is an aside) i don't know... i don't know where this falls in the greater scheme of science fiction, or what i am supposed to have gotten out of it all. i assume it is a cautionary tale about not taking your work home with you, right?? (although if i ever get fired, i am going to inject SO MANY books under my skin so i can read them when i get home. oh god if i got fired, i would have so much free time... kind of tempting...) and the more likely cold-war stuff, but that part is less fun and more blowy-uppy. i did learn that greg bear likes the word "cocantenations" as much as proust. and that's all i got. oh, i almost forgot my most favorite bit of dialogue: "i'll never be rid of you," bernard said. "you always represented something important to me." she swiveled on her high heels and presented the rear of an immaculately tailored blue suit. he grabbed her arm none too gently and brought her around to face him. "you were my last chance at being normal. i'll never love another woman like i did you. you burned. i'll like women, but i'll never commit to them; i'll never be naive with them." hahahahahaha come to my blog!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Kuhn

    I believe the only other Greg Bear books I’ve read are “Eon” and “Eternity”. I read both a very long time ago. I enjoyed both, especially Eon, but I remember having a few problems with the stories and was disappointed in the overall ending. Well, my neighbor picks up sci-fi at a used book story on occasion and passes on ones that he liked, as we have similar tastes. So, despite this being first published in 1985, I decided to give it a read. Overall, it was a similar experience to “Eon” and “Ete I believe the only other Greg Bear books I’ve read are “Eon” and “Eternity”. I read both a very long time ago. I enjoyed both, especially Eon, but I remember having a few problems with the stories and was disappointed in the overall ending. Well, my neighbor picks up sci-fi at a used book story on occasion and passes on ones that he liked, as we have similar tastes. So, despite this being first published in 1985, I decided to give it a read. Overall, it was a similar experience to “Eon” and “Eternity”, I enjoyed the read, but found myself let down at the end. The story starts with Vergil Ulam, a slightly overweight, nerdy, goalless, but brilliant scientist. He works at a biochip company where he is secretly performing research on his own. He’s building intelligent cells, highly intelligent cells. I mean they can navigate mazes better than lab rats. Well, he’s found out, and rashly decides to preserve his creations the only way he can get them out of the lab – by injecting them into his bloodstream. This kicks off a series of events, beginning with positive improvements to his body (improved eyesight, weight loss, increased strength, etc.) but leading to much more disturbing and ultimately cataclysmic events. I found the book to be a page turner, as I was intrigued, first by what would happen to Vergil, and then by the broader events. Along the way, I experienced some disappointments, such as wondering who the main character was, and finding frustration that we never seemed to stay with a character enough to development an interest in them. But it’s not really a character driven story, it’s a series of transformations that are well described and fascinating. Bear occasionally dips deeply into biochemistry and later physics adding support to the events. There were some interesting ideas about the make-up of the universe in the final third of the book. If those ideas were used at the end as a climatic ending with some characters we cared about, I think this could have been excellent. But in all honest, by the end, I didn’t really care about the remaining characters and the thought-provoking ideas had already been spent as we approached the final ending. I was left feeling like some very cool ideas and creative scenes were wasted. A borderline hard sci-fi novel, which contains an escalating series of creepy, captivating, and skillfully described events, that disappoints due to a lack of strong characters and an anti-climactic finale.

  3. 4 out of 5

    mark monday

    the science is hard and persuasive; the microscopic beings are soft and even more persuasive. they find themselves born in a strange new universe: the human body! and as many such beings do, they form themselves into groups and they build. they build and build and build and so create a civilization in their universe. a civilization in your body! Greg Bear is a great writer. the science is carefully explained, understandable even to science-dummies like myself. and he is just as persuasive when it the science is hard and persuasive; the microscopic beings are soft and even more persuasive. they find themselves born in a strange new universe: the human body! and as many such beings do, they form themselves into groups and they build. they build and build and build and so create a civilization in their universe. a civilization in your body! Greg Bear is a great writer. the science is carefully explained, understandable even to science-dummies like myself. and he is just as persuasive when it comes to the human condition, carefully grounding his characters within their own personal contexts, their flaws and virtues, their desire to connect and to love, their need to be individuals. stakes are created when human nature is sympathetically and accurately portrayed, and so stakes are high in this novel. the book juggles many things: it is an alien invasion saga - but an invasion from within; it is a tale of horror - of bodies changing and melting and oozing into the floor and each other; it is a speculative tale of a future that may look and feel utterly alien - but is still a future of hope and an expansion of human consciousness. ultimately, it functions as both parallel and healing antibody to Arthur C. Clarke's depressing Childhood's End. I'm a glass half-full kind of guy, so I appreciated the potential for uplift and the hopeful message that this mind-expanding novel delivered. and personally, I don't mind melting into the floor and into my loved ones if it also means that I (and the rest of humanity) get to level up. maybe that's just me though.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    MOULD, FRANKENSCIENCE AND MIRTH In Greg Bear's funny and creepy and REALLY insane story, the rogue scientist invents a virus which... goes viral! Ha ha, that's funny right there, ain't it? Well, what did he expect? That it would stay where he told it and just watch tv? No sir. It develops intelligence. Learns the art of conversation. Says stuff like WORDS communicate with *share body structure external* is this like *wholeness WITHIN* *totality* is EXTERNAL alike COULD DO WITH A BEER Okay okay, I a MOULD, FRANKENSCIENCE AND MIRTH In Greg Bear's funny and creepy and REALLY insane story, the rogue scientist invents a virus which... goes viral! Ha ha, that's funny right there, ain't it? Well, what did he expect? That it would stay where he told it and just watch tv? No sir. It develops intelligence. Learns the art of conversation. Says stuff like WORDS communicate with *share body structure external* is this like *wholeness WITHIN* *totality* is EXTERNAL alike COULD DO WITH A BEER Okay okay, I added the last bit. Anyway, the virus eats New York (these things never happen in Nottingham or Albuquerque) which then looks like some giant has draped giant army surplus blankets over it. You think I made that bit up too? No, I didn't! Greg Bear's very words - army surplus blankets. Ha ha! Greg, you're killing me with your blankets! So of course 5 people are immune to the virus, everyone else becomes subsumed within the blankets, and just as in all other apocalypso books and movies, the five people find each other and all of the survivor malarkey goes on apace. Does love bloom amongst the glop? Read on to find out. But, you know, it's a safe bet in these things. Maybe not the kind of love The Ronettes sang about though. I guess if ALL your human characters get turned into brown gloop by page 87 the story might lack a certain something. So Greg had to get his survivors to meet somehow (this was before Tinder). But the survivors-meeting stuff just seems unlikely to me. Oh look - I see there's a light on in the 75th floor of that skyscraper over there! Could it just be my cool punk cousin? Or maybe a cute 14 year old girl? Let's find out! Then again you have to respect a novel where one army surplus brown gloop says to the other *WHOLE* infrastructure skonkalolly *INTELLIGENCE far from BIOSPHERE* and the other says *YOU'RE MAKING ME BLUSH YOU LITTLE RASCAL" gloop gloop everybody gloop!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Apatt

    “Vergil Ulam had become a god. Within his flesh he carried hundreds of billions of intelligent beings.” If Blood Music is ever adapted into a movie, the above quote would be ideal for the movie’s slogan. It sums up the central conceit of the novel very nicely. So Vergil Ulam, a not entirely sane scientist working for a biotechnology lab, experiments with lymphocyte (a form of white blood cell) to turn them into smart cells*. This is very far from his employer’s purview so they summarily dismiss h “Vergil Ulam had become a god. Within his flesh he carried hundreds of billions of intelligent beings.” If Blood Music is ever adapted into a movie, the above quote would be ideal for the movie’s slogan. It sums up the central conceit of the novel very nicely. So Vergil Ulam, a not entirely sane scientist working for a biotechnology lab, experiments with lymphocyte (a form of white blood cell) to turn them into smart cells*. This is very far from his employer’s purview so they summarily dismiss him. In order to continue his work after dismissal he hastily injects the experimental lymphocytes - called “noocytes” - into himself. These noocytes soon develop sentience and start to transform Ulam from the inside. They soon learn that their host is not the entire universe, there is a much larger “macro-scale” universe of which Ulam is a tiny subset, and they want access to that. The world is definitely not ready for these microscopic guys, and life will never be the same again. A lymphocyte This is by far my favorite Greg Bear book, Eon and The Forge of God are great sci-fi books but the ideas and plot of Blood Music are much more startling. The effect these noocytes have on the human population of America is the stuff of nightmare. There is something very surreal about the landscape of the cities and the bizarre creatures roaming around them once the noocytes really get going. While there are several variants of the noocytes creatures specially design to function in our “macro-world” I imagine a lot of them look kind of like gigantic tofu. How they come to exist and what they are able to do are also wonderfully “sf-nal”. If you are familiar with the grey goo scenario you can look forward to some serious grey-gooing! On the writing side, I have to give props to Bear for creating complex and believable human characters with recognizable relationship issues and foibles. In the “Quotes” section after the review, I have juxtaposed Bear’s different styles for writing science expositions and emotional human drama. He is clearly one of the more versatile sci-fi authors. The ending of the book is truly epic, surreal, yet philosophical and even intimate. Unfortunately the more I talk about this book the more I am likely to spoil it. So I will shut up now. Blood Music is a feast for the imagination, read it! ________________ * A bit like smartphones I suppose, except they are not phones, nor are they cell phones. (Sorry!) Quotes: “Why limit oneself to silicon and protein and biochips a hundredth of a millimeter wide, when in almost every living cell there was already a functioning computer with a huge memory? A mammalian cell had a DNA complement of several billion base pairs, each acting as a piece of information. What was reproduction, after all, but a computerized biological process of enormous complexity and reliability?” “Can’t own a woman, Mike. Wonderful companions, can’t own them.” “I know.” “Do you? Maybe you do. I thought, when I found out about your mother’s lover, I thought I would die. It hurt almost as much as this does. I thought I owned her.” “Information can be stored even more compactly than in molecular memory. It can be stored in the structure of space-time. What is matter, after all, but a standing-wave of information in the vacuum?” “She had postulated that sex was not evolutionarily useful— at least not to women, who could, in theory, breed parthenogenetically— and that ultimately men were superfluous.”

  6. 4 out of 5

    aPriL does feral sometimes

    'Blood Music' by Greg Bear is a novel about a pandemic, but this one literally changes EVERYTHING (view spoiler)[ - it changes us, some of the surface of the Earth, and maybe some of solar system into.....wait for it. Sentient quantum particles - at least everything in North America becomes particles. I think. Everything on North America transforms into thinking nodes or clumps of transformed particles. These particles are individuals which can 'argue' with each other, yet not be individuals. Th 'Blood Music' by Greg Bear is a novel about a pandemic, but this one literally changes EVERYTHING (view spoiler)[ - it changes us, some of the surface of the Earth, and maybe some of solar system into.....wait for it. Sentient quantum particles - at least everything in North America becomes particles. I think. Everything on North America transforms into thinking nodes or clumps of transformed particles. These particles are individuals which can 'argue' with each other, yet not be individuals. They function like a master computer program resolving a problem with other programs. The rest of the Universe unfortunately experiences a change in the laws of physics as we know them today. The laws of physics become tweaked out of true, so to speak, because all of those trillions of sentient particles are observing! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schrödi... (hide spoiler)] We is gone but we all still here... information lives. I think. I do. I think thoughts. Shutup. But how does thinking work? Link the neurons in the brain and....? Magic! But thinking doesn't mean I am an I, an individual. People is cells. We believe we are an individual, but we are really a conglomerate of different cells and molecules, or in other words, multicellular. Silly humans. But to the point of describing this novel? This novel is badass in science, but weird as a black hole. A rogue scientist, Vergil Ulam, on purpose builds a new kind of mammalian cell in a petri dish, molecule by DNA strand by enzyme by RNA by protein by gene by chromosome by amino acid, mixing in viral and bacterial genes - and after there are quite a few of them, he tests and trains them up. These cells are sentient, able to learn and compute like an AI, but they definitely are biological cells. White blood cells. Ignorant white blood cells, but learning. Vergil has a tantrum after being fired because management at Genetron, his employer, doesn't approve of his offbook research. Genetron does not know Vergil has already been successful in creating sentient cells which compute in his experiment. They are afraid his work with microorganisms means he's making a plague for war. Before he leaves the laboratory for the last time, he's ordered to destroy his white blood cell cultures. Instead, he injects himself with his new sentient cells. He plans to withdraw some of his blood later, and he hopes to save whatever of the new cells he created in another clean lab to continue his work. Vergil expects the new cells to die within two weeks out of their test tubes of protective serum nutrients. He thinks his body will finish off the cells by his immune system if he doesn't 'rescue' them in two weeks. Tick tock, right? Nooooooo, not. At least no worries in his worry that the cells would be killed by his immune system. The cells LOVE their new environment! The immune system can't distinguish the new cells from Vergil's own, because, hello, he used his own cells to play with. Oh oh. (view spoiler)[I can't decide if I would have chosen to be an up quark or a down quark or....maybe, both at the same time! -since there would be no observations in the incoming light of any eyes to be taken, right? Or maybe I'll be simply charmingly strange? : p But being a photon might be more interesting - getting into a spooky entanglement sounds fun, like a space opera involving unpredictable relationships. I don't know what I'm talking about obviously. I was a secretary. (hide spoiler)] ; D This book made my brain hurt. If you've read this book and understood it perfectly, can you explain black holes to me? Comment below.

  7. 4 out of 5

    J.L. Sutton

    “Nothing is lost. Nothing is forgotten. It was in the blood, the flesh. And now, it is forever.” I enjoyed the premise upon which Greg Bear's Blood Music was based, an intelligent virus mutating inside a human being. I was very engaged through the first third or so of the book; however, while it was fine, it didn't seem near as focused or fun after that. I'm not sure there was enough for a full-sized novel. I really enjoyed other full-length works of Bear such as City at the End of Time; I just d “Nothing is lost. Nothing is forgotten. It was in the blood, the flesh. And now, it is forever.” I enjoyed the premise upon which Greg Bear's Blood Music was based, an intelligent virus mutating inside a human being. I was very engaged through the first third or so of the book; however, while it was fine, it didn't seem near as focused or fun after that. I'm not sure there was enough for a full-sized novel. I really enjoyed other full-length works of Bear such as City at the End of Time; I just don't think Blood Music h held up in the same way. 3.25 stars

  8. 4 out of 5

    Oblomov

    Vergil is a scientist who has secretly created sentient white blood cells (don't think about it too hard, just go with it) which he names Noocytes (No-oh-cytes, not Noooocytes as you may hope). Unfortunately, Vergil's absolutely shite work attitude and underhand practices leads to his expulsion from the company laboratory. Forced to destroy his research before security escorts him out the building, Vergil is unwilling to commit complete genocide against his burdgeoning new life forms, so sneaks Vergil is a scientist who has secretly created sentient white blood cells (don't think about it too hard, just go with it) which he names Noocytes (No-oh-cytes, not Noooocytes as you may hope). Unfortunately, Vergil's absolutely shite work attitude and underhand practices leads to his expulsion from the company laboratory. Forced to destroy his research before security escorts him out the building, Vergil is unwilling to commit complete genocide against his burdgeoning new life forms, so sneaks out a single vial. Having no suitable equipment to transport them safely and no idea when he'll have access to another lab, Vergil can only think of one way to keep his 'children' safe: he injects them into his own body. Blood Music is the only example I know of a positive take on an apocalypse. Vergil's incubation of the Noocytes intially leads to an improvement in his health, but is followed by gruesome and rather mushy body horror as they slowly transform his flesh, and then the intelligent microscopic creatures decide to give imperialism a try and spread into the city water supply. The cells infect the country, dissolving people into Cronenberg monstrosities and leaving only a few stragglers of the oddly uninfected, the plot skipping between these individuals as they navigate the wasteland of meaty monsters. So far this sounds like a The Thing-esque nightmare of eldritch abominations and foolish science, but here's the twist: The noocytes are able to communicate with their hosts, as well as each other on one massive, psychic network, and they're not really evil. Written in 1985 in America, this could easily have been an anti-communist Cold War fable, with the noocytes acting as a borg like entity assimilating the world into one vast Red empire, but Bear doesn't portray it that way. The Noocytes aren't a metaphor for an all devouring Soviet bloc, but for radical and frightening advances in technology that make established paradigms obsolete. It asks whether we're willing to dramatically change our ways or hang desperately to failed and miserable, but familiar, systems (nudges America and anyone daft enough to still support the Tories). This also happens in The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but there the 'life improvements' offered by the aliens are shot down as a mere facade of contentment, with human emotions simply lobotomised. Not so with Blood Music, with the Noocytes offering an expansion of emotions, interconnections and intelligence rather than turning everyone into an organic mannequin, and now I can't talk anymore without risking major spoilers, so I'll skip to the bit where I moisten the book with slobbery praise and beg you to get it. This is one of the best sci-fi books I've read, no matter how shakey the premise, or how confusing the 'grey goo' and 'quantum information' theories Greg throws sharp end first at my dim head. The characters are distinctly human, there are no villains or paragons, the ethical questions are fascinating and Greg's descriptions of the mutating bodies sits perfectly between mesmerising and utterly nauseating. It's good, it's really, really good, stop reading this daft review and go read Blood Music.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Blaine

    I read this book as a teenager, when it first came out, and I remember loving it. Rereading it now, 30 years later, it's good, but not great. It deserves full credit for being an early work to focus on the idea of an intelligent virus transforming humanity. And it's not the book's fault that the scenes where the Soviet Union is the big scary villain come off now as dated. That said, the pacing of the book is odd. The first half focuses on a handful of characters, of whom only the protagonist appe I read this book as a teenager, when it first came out, and I remember loving it. Rereading it now, 30 years later, it's good, but not great. It deserves full credit for being an early work to focus on the idea of an intelligent virus transforming humanity. And it's not the book's fault that the scenes where the Soviet Union is the big scary villain come off now as dated. That said, the pacing of the book is odd. The first half focuses on a handful of characters, of whom only the protagonist appears to be infected. Then suddenly, off screen and in the space of a page, we've leapt a few months forward and only a handful of people are alive in all of North America. The choice of which characters survive is odd. It's not clear what is added by the three in California. For a book about the end of humanity, there's an awful lot of talking in the back half of the book. It's an interesting story, but not entirely satisfying.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    This week I started and finished reading a trilogy by this author. My first encounter with Greg Bear (see what I did there? *lol*). I wasn't overly impressed although I liked the writing style. According to my buddy-reader and constant volunteller, Brad, the trilogy was NOT the author's best work, not by far, and I should read this short story. So I did. The story is about a scientist experimenting with biochips (computer chips that can be put in a human body). In the tradition of scientific horro This week I started and finished reading a trilogy by this author. My first encounter with Greg Bear (see what I did there? *lol*). I wasn't overly impressed although I liked the writing style. According to my buddy-reader and constant volunteller, Brad, the trilogy was NOT the author's best work, not by far, and I should read this short story. So I did. The story is about a scientist experimenting with biochips (computer chips that can be put in a human body). In the tradition of scientific horror stories, he takes it too far, even by the standards of the biotech company he's working for, and therefore gets fired. Panicking, he injects himself with his invention (of course) and that is where the fun begins. As William Blake said: To see a World in a Grain of Sand... I really liked the story and the creepy crawly feeling it invoked. Imagine knowing that intelligent biochips are inside you but you have no control over them and no knowledge of what they are going to do. Will they be trying to conquer, take over? Will they worship the body they live in as a deity? Just how intelligent can they become? Was that just a normal itch or some change the things have initiated? I was wondering (view spoiler)[why it took them so long before the doctor realized he had been infected and if the sweaty palm trick hadn't also worked on the Bernard guy (hide spoiler)] but it doesn't really matter for the overall atmosphere and message or the progression of the story. (view spoiler)[Though I was almost a bit disappointed that it turned squishy instead of techy - maybe I was hoping for a more metal-ish evolution (think Robocop or the nanites from Stargate) but if you only have a squishy body to work with ... (hide spoiler)] The characters were relatively flat (much like in the trilogy) so I'm left also wondering if characterisations are a weak point of this author or if it was deliberate here because it was supposed to be all about the science and the (view spoiler)[old (hide spoiler)] individuals didn't matter. Anyway, nice and creepy story that marks the perfect transition from September to Spooktober. ;)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lasairfiona

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I can't decide: should I burn this book because it is the most horrible piece of trash I have ever read or should I frame it? Why is this book so horrible? It is because the concept is so _cool_. I couldn't put it down because it is just neat that a virus could become sentient! There is also some cool (though completely bogus) science and theory on observations of time. The only character worth caring about is the virus! But I had to wade through bad sentence structure, useless characters that you I can't decide: should I burn this book because it is the most horrible piece of trash I have ever read or should I frame it? Why is this book so horrible? It is because the concept is so _cool_. I couldn't put it down because it is just neat that a virus could become sentient! There is also some cool (though completely bogus) science and theory on observations of time. The only character worth caring about is the virus! But I had to wade through bad sentence structure, useless characters that you can't empathise with, bad story structure, bad statistics (only 12 people in all of north america survive and of course 3 of them find each other. Oh, and one is the main character's mom), complete improbabilities, the killing of the main character with no replacement (except the virus and the story is structured around it rather than on it), and the most useless and unfulfilling ending ever. I threw this book across the room many times only to pick it back up to find out what happened. There is nothing worse than a cool story with an inept writer. It is just cruel! This concept needs to be handed off to an author that can write and do this concept justice.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    3.5 stars. Classic SF novel dealing with biotechnology, nanotechnology (including the grey goo hypothesis), the nature of consciousness and artificial intelligence. On my list to re-read in the near future as it has been some time since I first read this. Nominee: British Science Fiction Award for Best Novel Nominee: John W. Campbell Award for Best Science Fiction Novel Nominee: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (the original short story WON the award for Best Short Story) Nominee: Nebula A 3.5 stars. Classic SF novel dealing with biotechnology, nanotechnology (including the grey goo hypothesis), the nature of consciousness and artificial intelligence. On my list to re-read in the near future as it has been some time since I first read this. Nominee: British Science Fiction Award for Best Novel Nominee: John W. Campbell Award for Best Science Fiction Novel Nominee: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (the original short story WON the award for Best Short Story) Nominee: Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (the original short story WON the award for Best Novelette) Nominee: Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel

  13. 5 out of 5

    Phil

    Bear has always been a 'big ideas' science fiction writer and BM is no exception. First published in 1985 and nominated for many awards, this has aged well and the science involved must have been seen as extraordinary at the time it came out. Further, the story arc is incredibly ambitious and it took some very strange twists and turns. This starts off more like body horror than science fiction. Our lead, at least in the first section, is Vergil Ulam, a biological researcher; in his 'spare time' a Bear has always been a 'big ideas' science fiction writer and BM is no exception. First published in 1985 and nominated for many awards, this has aged well and the science involved must have been seen as extraordinary at the time it came out. Further, the story arc is incredibly ambitious and it took some very strange twists and turns. This starts off more like body horror than science fiction. Our lead, at least in the first section, is Vergil Ulam, a biological researcher; in his 'spare time' at work for a genetic engineering firm, his work involves the restructuring of cells at the DNA/RNA level. While we are never quite clear on exactly what the end goal is of his research, his bosses are not very happy with his side project as it involves animal cells and he is pretty lax regarding biological protocols. While getting basically the bums rush out the door from work, he manages to inject himself with some of his 'smart cells' and shortly thereafter, strange things start to happen to his body. Again, the opening really had a body horror feel to it, but Bear is just getting started here; turns out, the cells are a lot smarter than he thought... So much for the set up. The biological research for this must have been some work and in a way, this is really a product of its time. Patenting living organisms was only first allowed in 1981 and lead to the GMO/bio-tech revolution. The worries about gene-engineering were quite vocal at the time (and indeed, still play out today) in a very 'romantic' way, that is today, the belief that technology is a double edged sword. While there may be great benefits to the new gene tech, there may well be great perils. In a way, what Vergil made/discovered was both but in a very strange way. Definitely a fun read in a 'big ideas' way, but like many other hardish science fiction, do not expect too much in the way of character development. The twists and turns were fun, even if you have to stretch your mind around them and accept some of the rather large premises that, upon reflection after finishing the book, seem rather dubious. 3.5 stars, rounding down because (view spoiler)[ I am really tired of the concept of 'singularity' and quantum stuff taking the place of magic (hide spoiler)] .

  14. 5 out of 5

    Yoshiboy13

    book *awesome-on-verge-of-omfg* greg bear MUST SPEND MORE TIME STUDYING AUTHOR Could you make that slightly more readable for the nice people out there? *negative* understand. possible mean EXTERNAL GROUPING Yeah, pretty much. VERGIL translate CLUSTERS *can-not-translate* I think they mean that it's a good book. pause . . . . . . . . EXTERNAL GROUPING nice? nice from *city-nice-in-country-france*? nice *friendly*? QUERY Nice friendly. CLUSTERS need learn MORE Yes, quite right. - - End transmission. - - book *awesome-on-verge-of-omfg* greg bear MUST SPEND MORE TIME STUDYING AUTHOR Could you make that slightly more readable for the nice people out there? *negative* understand. possible mean EXTERNAL GROUPING Yeah, pretty much. VERGIL translate CLUSTERS *can-not-translate* I think they mean that it's a good book. pause . . . . . . . . EXTERNAL GROUPING nice? nice from *city-nice-in-country-france*? nice *friendly*? QUERY Nice friendly. CLUSTERS need learn MORE Yes, quite right. - - End transmission. - -

  15. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    This novel really irked me, for several reasons. I think my primary complaint is in the characters - they were undeveloped, unrealistic, and clearly vessels for the science and story rather than dynamic individuals. I didn't care about any of them, except for maybe the intelligent cells themselves. It didn't help that the plot was slow-moving and required a lot of suspension of disbelief. I don't know enough about hard science to judge the likelihood of any of this novel's events, but from a laym This novel really irked me, for several reasons. I think my primary complaint is in the characters - they were undeveloped, unrealistic, and clearly vessels for the science and story rather than dynamic individuals. I didn't care about any of them, except for maybe the intelligent cells themselves. It didn't help that the plot was slow-moving and required a lot of suspension of disbelief. I don't know enough about hard science to judge the likelihood of any of this novel's events, but from a layman's perspective, they seemed so absurd - and more and more so as the book progresses - that I had a hard time continuing to read past the halfway point. I love science fiction. I used to devour Michael Crichton's books. But they were enjoyable and exciting because they seemed at least somewhat plausible; Blood Music doesn't. What really killed this novel for me, though, was the writing style. The prose is straight-forward, detailed, and kind of...cold. It's written like a scientific report: here's what happened, to whom, and when. Bear throws in little unnecessary details - "he went to Jack-in-the Box for breakfast", "he got a Dos Equis from the fridge" - which just distract from the story. The detached way in which it's written made it hard to read - I felt like I was plowing through it, rather than becoming engrossed in it. I know I seem harsh. Clearly, with all the five-star reviews, not everyone feels the way I do. But if you have little experience with science fiction, I would avoid Blood Music as your first exploration of the genre, unless you have a really strong interest in nanotechnology. Oh and be sure to check your edition for typos before you pick it up - mine was full of them, on almost every page. Big ones, too - the word "hi" would often appear where the word "in" should have been, and a lot of punctuation was missing. I'm not sure how that happened, but it was also very distracting.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bryan

    Greg Bear once said "science fiction works best when it stimulates debate" and I couldn't agree more. Before this Frankensteinian adventure, I'd never read a book by him and I'm feeling like I am definitely missing out. I seriously enjoyed the language he uses. My interest waned about 70% in but I stuck in there and ended up loving the last 10 or so pages. Overall, I'd say it had a strong finish and in the end it made me think. Sure, there were a few outdated pieces. A majority of one character' Greg Bear once said "science fiction works best when it stimulates debate" and I couldn't agree more. Before this Frankensteinian adventure, I'd never read a book by him and I'm feeling like I am definitely missing out. I seriously enjoyed the language he uses. My interest waned about 70% in but I stuck in there and ended up loving the last 10 or so pages. Overall, I'd say it had a strong finish and in the end it made me think. Sure, there were a few outdated pieces. A majority of one character's arc taking place in one of the WTC towers or the mentioning of floppy diskettes or pocket computers. Regardless, I'm giving it 4 stars because I really liked Blood Music. Listening to Your Love Is An Island by TALOS while reading the final pages is highly recommended. If this book ever gets optioned for a movie... I did your homework for the final scene. Some random lines I liked... "They orbited around each other like moon and planet, never really touching" (134). - Gotta love space similes. "It is the bullet you don’t hear that gets you" Page 196 "Thought moves like a dissociation of leaves across a lawn in a breeze." Page 261 Other random thoughts... I also liked how Bear incorporated in real controversy regarding embryonic stem cell research. One last thing, I wish someone could tell me if it's true is whether the Slotin story actually happened. 4 stars... go read it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    At a certain point, I had to admit that Blood Music ceased to be about science-y horror stuff, and just became a wild, sci-fi horror novel. And while I liked that, I sort of missed the science part. And the aspects that actually related to being human, and why that's important. A lot of that appears to just drop away in the end (which is fairly abrupt). For some reason (gee - the cover? the synopsis?), I'd had this impression that the book was going to be about crazy Cthulu monsters. What a let d At a certain point, I had to admit that Blood Music ceased to be about science-y horror stuff, and just became a wild, sci-fi horror novel. And while I liked that, I sort of missed the science part. And the aspects that actually related to being human, and why that's important. A lot of that appears to just drop away in the end (which is fairly abrupt). For some reason (gee - the cover? the synopsis?), I'd had this impression that the book was going to be about crazy Cthulu monsters. What a let down. I liked Blood Music. But it leaves a lot to be desired.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gabi

    I enjoyed this story a lot. It started as an idea for molecular biology development which instantly got my inner scientist's attention. Sometimes it is scaring how much I can feel with the 'mad scientist'. Later it went into more speculative, esoteric fields with in parts lyrical language. The transition went smooth and successful. That's the kind of SF I want to read. I enjoyed this story a lot. It started as an idea for molecular biology development which instantly got my inner scientist's attention. Sometimes it is scaring how much I can feel with the 'mad scientist'. Later it went into more speculative, esoteric fields with in parts lyrical language. The transition went smooth and successful. That's the kind of SF I want to read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    J.M. Hushour

    Imagine a friendly COVID-19 combined with John Carpenter's The Thing and you will have Blood Music. Bear is often compared with Arthur C. Clarke and it is easy to see why, both in the book's strengths and weaknesses: an unfortunate lack of characterization, though, is easily overlooked by the sheer batshit craziness of the story itself. Like Clarke, the characters are mostly there for observational purposes and to make questionable decisions. I like this occasional illogic because as the reader, Imagine a friendly COVID-19 combined with John Carpenter's The Thing and you will have Blood Music. Bear is often compared with Arthur C. Clarke and it is easy to see why, both in the book's strengths and weaknesses: an unfortunate lack of characterization, though, is easily overlooked by the sheer batshit craziness of the story itself. Like Clarke, the characters are mostly there for observational purposes and to make questionable decisions. I like this occasional illogic because as the reader, your fervent protests make you much more part of the process of the storytelling. Anyone, the skinny (minor spoilers), as best as I can simplify it: Overweight loser scientist creates rapidly evolving intelligent micro-organisms. When his research gets him sacked, he injects himself with them, setting into motion a rapid pandemic/invasion of humanity's biology by these seemingly well-intentioned organisms. Since they can rapidly alter their hosts and the world at large, there are fine moments of horror that invoke Carpenter's film. I especially liked the downright disturbing scene of the flesh pipe extending from a person's back feeding weird fluids down into the kitchen sink. The titular tunes are infected people hearing these micro-organisms messing around in their bodies. The character focus leaps around a lot, and if there is a main character it'd be split evenly between a few flailing scientists, one of whom is infected and in isolation. Other brief character moments center around a few people mysteriously immune to the evolutionary plague. All in all, a good, often creepy, and fascinating take on invasions, plagues, and humanity's stupidity.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Andreas

    Biotechnologist Vergil Ulam creates biological computers with his lymphocytes in a San Diego based research center. When his employer orders him out of a responsible decision to immediately destroy his work, he injects them into his own body and leaves the company. The intelligent cells get more intelligent, multiply by the trillions and start to improve his body. Ulam can hear some music from them, thus the title. Please, be aware that this is the review for the novelette which Bear turned into Biotechnologist Vergil Ulam creates biological computers with his lymphocytes in a San Diego based research center. When his employer orders him out of a responsible decision to immediately destroy his work, he injects them into his own body and leaves the company. The intelligent cells get more intelligent, multiply by the trillions and start to improve his body. Ulam can hear some music from them, thus the title. Please, be aware that this is the review for the novelette which Bear turned into a novel in 1985. This gray goo based on nanotechnology scenario was written before the term was coined in 1986. It wasn't exactly the first SF story covering this topic but certainly one of the most prominent ones, winning both Hugo and Nebula Awards. The story is quite flat on the protagonist's characterization, its prose is fluent but not beautiful, but the pacing is great. What really impressed me was the development of the idea itself, being a concept driven story. It moved me to imagine how it would be so easy to completely destroy humans - and in this case by bringing new life into existence. Since a couple of years, the topic has become quiet and I wonder why. Overall, the novelette has aged very well.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Travis

    This novel was suggested to me by a sadistic prick who I thought was my friend. Turns out he wanted to see if the concept would bother me. Joke's on him. Loved the book. The story itself was original and unlike anything I'd read before. The concept of a man-made apocalypse where the end of the human race comes in the form of an intelligent virus that ultimately rebuilds the likes of humanity is so far out of the box it's no wonder many light readers are thrown into abysmal attacks on sentence st This novel was suggested to me by a sadistic prick who I thought was my friend. Turns out he wanted to see if the concept would bother me. Joke's on him. Loved the book. The story itself was original and unlike anything I'd read before. The concept of a man-made apocalypse where the end of the human race comes in the form of an intelligent virus that ultimately rebuilds the likes of humanity is so far out of the box it's no wonder many light readers are thrown into abysmal attacks on sentence structure and grammar. This is the first novel I've ever read that used infinitesimals as a plot point, let alone a key character. The originality in this piece alone will have me revisiting it again and again over the years.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lost Planet Airman

    I really, really, really had thought that this was a SFF Book Club monthly choice. But I couldn't find it on the list, so I guess I let my sub conscious sucker me into reading it. I also let my subconscious sucker me into press through the audiobook in one day... and I really should have thought through the thematic issues before tackling a biological horror story in the midst of a pandemic. About ten years ago, I read the Greg Bear novelette of the same name -- it was creative and chilling and t I really, really, really had thought that this was a SFF Book Club monthly choice. But I couldn't find it on the list, so I guess I let my sub conscious sucker me into reading it. I also let my subconscious sucker me into press through the audiobook in one day... and I really should have thought through the thematic issues before tackling a biological horror story in the midst of a pandemic. About ten years ago, I read the Greg Bear novelette of the same name -- it was creative and chilling and terrifying, and also the winner of the 1984 Hugo and Nebula awards. in 1986, Mr. Bear rewrote the story into novel length, rather deftly I think, by providing a more detailed lead-in, grafting on some characters, and then building past the horrific conclusion into something... else (no spoilers, sorry! Lets lust say that Mr. Bear does not ruin the original with an new ending, and that I think fans ought to find both tales acceptable.) So, what's the story? A morally sketchy researcher has been investigating his pet project on company time, attempting to develop cell-sized computer units that procerss based on DNA. The trouble his, he's gone against protocols and used human genetic material - worse, his own - and when discovered, he attempts to smuggle the material out by injecting it into himself. What's the worse that can happen, right?

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jonathon Von

    Pretty scary cosmic horror novel. Oh, it’s science fiction, is it? I suppose it is.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sesana

    Blood Music is built around a great science fiction concept: a man-made virus becomes sentient and starts rebuilding the world to their own specifications. (Yes, I know that they're technically lymphocytes, but they act and are treated much like a virus throughout.) And to start with, that concept is indeed very promising. The first half or so of the book seemed to be fairly hard SF to me. There are some issues dragging down the book as a whole, though. The most immediately obvious thing is that Blood Music is built around a great science fiction concept: a man-made virus becomes sentient and starts rebuilding the world to their own specifications. (Yes, I know that they're technically lymphocytes, but they act and are treated much like a virus throughout.) And to start with, that concept is indeed very promising. The first half or so of the book seemed to be fairly hard SF to me. There are some issues dragging down the book as a whole, though. The most immediately obvious thing is that the characters are one dimensional sketches, even the viewpoint characters. Nobody feels authentic, or even sympathetic. Adding to that, the narrative makes an abrupt turn towards outright fantasy towards the end. Sure, parts of the book up to that point unrealistic, but I feel fine with labeling some of the things that happen in the last few chapters as magic, pure and simple. Including the odd concept that the universe obligingly reshapes itself to the whims of whoever has the best current theory. It's a far cry from the original premise of the novel. There's that great premise, though. And some really creepy imagery once the lymphocytes start relandscaping. It sounds very much like what might happen if Dr. Seuss and H.R. Giger were hired to design sets for a Tim Burton movie. Certainly worthwhile for SF buffs, but not something I'd give to somebody who isn't already a fan of the genre.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Banner

    I had no idea this book was going to be so weird! I guess the name and cover should have given me a hint, but I try to practice the "Don't judge a book by its cover" rule. The protagonist is an interesting fellow, a sloppy research doctor. Working in the area of microbiology. Aspersions of greater things and a drive to achieve but he just isn't that careful in the lab. A germ with intelligence.... That's all I'm saying; it just gets weirder after that. It is a good, imaginative science fiction y I had no idea this book was going to be so weird! I guess the name and cover should have given me a hint, but I try to practice the "Don't judge a book by its cover" rule. The protagonist is an interesting fellow, a sloppy research doctor. Working in the area of microbiology. Aspersions of greater things and a drive to achieve but he just isn't that careful in the lab. A germ with intelligence.... That's all I'm saying; it just gets weirder after that. It is a good, imaginative science fiction yarn, by a notoriously hard science fiction author.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Manuel Alfonseca

    ENGLISH: The first part of this novel is good sci-fi about the dangers of biotechnology, but then the book becomes outragingly outlandish, in a way that crashes with my world view, therefore I've given it just two stars. By the way, Teilhard de Chardin is mentioned, but his name is badly written (twice), and what is worse, Greg Bear shows he hasn't understood his theories. I'm sure Teilhard wouldn't have approved what happens in the second part of this novel. ESPAÑOL: La primera parte de esta nove ENGLISH: The first part of this novel is good sci-fi about the dangers of biotechnology, but then the book becomes outragingly outlandish, in a way that crashes with my world view, therefore I've given it just two stars. By the way, Teilhard de Chardin is mentioned, but his name is badly written (twice), and what is worse, Greg Bear shows he hasn't understood his theories. I'm sure Teilhard wouldn't have approved what happens in the second part of this novel. ESPAÑOL: La primera parte de esta novela es buena ciencia-ficción sobre los peligros de la biotecnología, pero luego el libro se vuelve escandalosamente extravagante de una forma que choca con mi visión del mundo, por lo que sólo le doy dos estrellas. Por cierto, se menciona a Teilhard de Chardin, pero su nombre aparece mal escrito dos veces y, lo que es peor, Greg Bear demuestra que no ha entendido sus teorías. Estoy seguro de que Teilhard no habría aprobado lo que pasa en la segunda parte de esta novela.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Oleksandr Zholud

    This is a ‘big idea’ SF novel, published on the height of the initial cyberpunk fame, but looking more at concepts of AI, sentience, singularity from a different angle – biological. I read it as a part of monthly reading for February 2022 at The Evolution of Science Fiction group. The story was first printed in 1985 and was nominated for both Hugo and Nebula the next year, but lost to Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card in both cases. An interesting fact – it was published by Tor, which currently This is a ‘big idea’ SF novel, published on the height of the initial cyberpunk fame, but looking more at concepts of AI, sentience, singularity from a different angle – biological. I read it as a part of monthly reading for February 2022 at The Evolution of Science Fiction group. The story was first printed in 1985 and was nominated for both Hugo and Nebula the next year, but lost to Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card in both cases. An interesting fact – it was published by Tor, which currently dominates the award ballot for Hugoes and a lot of whose present supporters don’t like Card’s homophobia (which is pretty bad). Moreover, it was the first Nebula-winning Tor book (and maybe Hugo as well). The story starts with Vergil Ulam. He is a biologist and works at a bio-engineering version of Silicon Valley. They try to create a chip, based not on silicon and electronics, but on a basis of a bio-cell. He is, like cyberpunk heroes, a genius who makes his own simple bio-computers based on his lymphocytes and trains them to become more and more complex. His superiors learned about his ‘side-project’ and ordered him to eliminate it. He disagrees and takes them from the lab by secretly self-injecting them. As time passes he finds out that his body becomes better and better… but what will be his ultimate payout? At some moment of the plot, there is a possibility of epidemic spread of modified cells and the response of agencies is much more optimistic than our real COVID-19 situation shows. The book is interesting chiefly on account of the suggested way to singularity, but both prose and characters are mostly flat, serving as decorations for the presented ideas. I have to admit, this was new of my first SF novel read in English in the early 2000s and then I was seriously impressed by it (at that time most foreign SF translations I’ve read were published before 1972, when the USSR joined copyright laws) – definitely a fresh look. Upon the present re-read, I see more issues and weak places but nevertheless, it is a nice yawn.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ben Loory

    starts out a pretty run-of-the-mill Michael Crichton-type thriller, then segues into a cronenbergian fly-like body-horror thing and then ends as a stephen king The Stand-type situation, with a bunch of characters wandering around in a post-apocalyptic wasteland (only the characters are really flat and none of them were there at the start and you don't care about any of them and... whatever). BUT! right in the middle, there's this one amazing chapter! narrated by a news reporter in a plane flying starts out a pretty run-of-the-mill Michael Crichton-type thriller, then segues into a cronenbergian fly-like body-horror thing and then ends as a stephen king The Stand-type situation, with a bunch of characters wandering around in a post-apocalyptic wasteland (only the characters are really flat and none of them were there at the start and you don't care about any of them and... whatever). BUT! right in the middle, there's this one amazing chapter! narrated by a news reporter in a plane flying over the country just as the intelligent supervirus begins to alter the physical landscape, remake the country into something alien and new... like a new plane of existence materializing within ours... and that chapter is so great! just so grand and visionary, nightmarish and convincing... i will probably remember it forever.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    This novel surprised me with how enjoyable it actually was. The title and cover conspired to give me the distinct impression of "generic SF." A more up-to-date look at the worries of genetic engineering, "Blood Music" moves from an "Andromeda Strain" bio-thriller into speculation of physics and the nature of reality. It manages to do so smoothly, and without invoking any mystical hand waving, which adds greatly to its effect. A solid read, and one that would sit well with anyone who enjoys near This novel surprised me with how enjoyable it actually was. The title and cover conspired to give me the distinct impression of "generic SF." A more up-to-date look at the worries of genetic engineering, "Blood Music" moves from an "Andromeda Strain" bio-thriller into speculation of physics and the nature of reality. It manages to do so smoothly, and without invoking any mystical hand waving, which adds greatly to its effect. A solid read, and one that would sit well with anyone who enjoys near future SF. (With the exception of biologists, for who the suspension of disbelief will require quite a bit more effort.)

  30. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    Vergil Ulam is a brilliant biotechnology researcher who takes matters into his own hands when his company threatens to shuit his work down. Vergil's noocytes are like nano-techonlogy living organisms that begin to evolve and multiply rapidly. Greg Bear knows his science and comes up with some big ideas and concepts while exploring what it means to be human. Vergil Ulam is a brilliant biotechnology researcher who takes matters into his own hands when his company threatens to shuit his work down. Vergil's noocytes are like nano-techonlogy living organisms that begin to evolve and multiply rapidly. Greg Bear knows his science and comes up with some big ideas and concepts while exploring what it means to be human.

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