Blood Music • 1983 • Near Future SF novelette by Greg Bear


Synopsis:  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.

Review: 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 (cfthis elaborate article) 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.

Meta: isfdb. It won the 1984 Hugo and Nebula awards.


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