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Blood Music

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  6,106 ratings  ·  278 reviews
Vergil Ulam's breakthrough in genetic engineering is considered too dangerous for further research. Rather than destroy his work, he injects himself with his creation and walks out of his lab, unaware of just quite how his actions will change the world.

Bear's treatment of the traditional tale of scientific hubris is suspenseful and a compelling portrait of a new intellige

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Paperback, SF Masterworks, 272 pages
Published April 1st 2001 by Gollancz (first published 1985)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
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Paul
BOLD FRANKENSCIENCE AND MIRTH


In Greg Bear's funny and creepy and REALLY insane story, the rogue scientist invents a virus which... goes viral. Well, what did he expect? That it would stay where he told it and just watch tv? 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

No, sorry, I added the last bit. Anyway, the virus eats New York wh
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Lasairfiona Smith
Aug 21, 2007 Lasairfiona Smith rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those that love horrible writing. I mean bad.
Shelves: dontbother
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
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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
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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.

Jen
I'd given this book 2.5 if I had had the option to do so. Closer to "mediocre" than to "multiple-award-winner".
Abe
My first of many (and still my favorite) Greg Bear book. This guy is good!
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
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Chris Kelly
Here's a perfect example of the all-too familiar phenomenon in science fiction; a writer comes up with a great and interesting concept, but has no idea how to translate into an interesting story. Greg Bear's idea of creating lymphocytes who have become sentient and evolved a human level of intelligence sounded great to me. Such an idea would have some many ramifications and would force us to reevaluate our place in the universe. Unfortunately, Bear hardly explores the wide scope of changes such ...more
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
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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
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Jessica
I read this because the short story (by the same author) it is based on is so great. I think it should have stayed a short story. The book was alright. The added characters were one-dimensional irritating, and obviously tacked on to fill space and make the story longer, but added very little to it, with the exception of Bernard. Bernard is the only character who became a valuable addition. The only part of the book that was missing from the story in my opinion is Bernard, who made the book beara ...more
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
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David Nichols
Unfortunately, this book does not improve the short story upon which it is based; the main characters are either unsympathetic or two-dimensional, and Bear doesn't provide more than a glimpse of the world created by the Blood Musicians (so to speak). Also, the book's title just doesn't work with the "In My Pants" game.
Bill
One of my favorite books, period. Is it science fiction? Horror? How are we supposed to feel about the idea of humanity's fundamental transformation by a veritable sea of nanotechnology? The book remains relatively neutral, with perhaps just a hint of wonder at the possibilities.
Angela
Oh man. That was fun. Gory, messy, ridiculous fun.

The story is that usual sub-sub-genre of the "mad scientist" trope, where the mad scientist's mad experiment goes terribly wrong (or right? depends on your perspective, I guess) and takes down most of everything else with him. It combines that rarest of emotional harmonies: horrifying/disgusting, with hilarious. The zany grotesque, if you will. Think David Cronenberg, or that wonderful, underrated jewel, Slither. It's gross-out, and it's funny, a
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Karin
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Arax Miltiadous
Jan 11, 2013 Arax Miltiadous rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Arax by: Elena emmanouil
Περίεργο βιβλίο.. Θεωρείτε σκληρή Ε.Φ από μερικούς..
Εγώ πάλι βρέθηκα αντιμέτωπη με ένα αρκετά πρωτότυπο σενάριο που με έκανε να συλλογιστώ το παράδειγμα του Αϊνστάιν καθώς και κάθε ιδιοφυΐας, να συνειδητοποιήσω για άλλη μια φορά - μέσα από την ιστορία του βιβλίου- πόσο αχρείαστο και περιοριστικό είναι στην διάνοια το ανθρωπινό σώμα. Πως όταν και αν ο άνθρωπος καταφέρει να σπάσει τους περιορισμούς της αντίληψης και αποκτήσει πρόσβαση πέραν του δεδομένου 8% του μυαλού και της νοημοσύνης του, αντιλ
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Roger Bailey
This is really a pretty fascinating book. It could be classified as a science fiction thriller with the kind of excitement that makes you keep wanting to turn the next page to see what happens next even if you do have responsibilities that must be attended.
A biotech scientist does some bioengineering on his own lymphocytes and somehow endows them with high intelligence. Yes, they are individual cells that are each and every one self aware and conscious. When he injects them back into himself th
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Nathaniel Morgan
I read the short story when I was in my teens and adored it even though I found it absolutely terrifying. The novel takes the basic premise and extends it hugely, adding new depth and making it a bit more metaphysical. It's one of the best science fiction books I've read in years and has the same headache inducing mind-bending scope as Olaf Stapleton's Starmaker, even though it's confined solely to our earth and set in modern times.

The story concerns the accidental creation of sentient bacteria
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Geoff
The novel begins following maverick biotechnologist Vergil Ulam, and his 'after-hours' creation of lymphocytes capable of passing information between one-another. His research is considered too dangerous, but rather than destroy his work, he injects his masterpiece into his bloodstream - their only chance for survival. This leads to the evolution of intelligence in the noocytes (from the greek word for mind, 'noos'), and they begin to rapidly multiply and evolve further. Vergil begins to notice ...more
Ashley
Cool concept. Mediocre storytelling.

I really enjoyed Bear's Darwin's Radio and Darwin's Children, but I've been disappointed in the other Bear titles I've tried, including this one.

The setup is intriguing: quirky, mad-scientist type experiments on himself and triggers world-altering plague. Unfortunately, the characters aren't as interesting as the scientific premise. Fifty or so pages before the book ended, I simply didn't care anymore. Characters had become throw-away and barely sketched out
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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 ...more
Viktor Rumanuk
Blood Music begins as Vergil Ulam, a “rogue” biotechnologist, creates lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, that become sentient, self-organizing into their own civilization inside Ulam’s body. Of course, the newly intelligent organisms soon escape the confines of Vergil Ulam and begin infecting the world, with disastrous results for mankind. Blood Music is thoroughly intriguing, suffering only from a few shallow characters towards the end of the book. Flaws aside, the concepts discussed in B ...more
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. - -
Doreen Dalesandro
Genre: sci-fi
Rating: 3.5
I listened to this book.

Don't quite know what to think about this book. Parts had me spellbound, and parts, bored. I enjoy bio sci-fi. Darwin's Radio is one of my very favorite books. The bio in Blood Music is great...

George Guidall does a good job narrating.
Jonathan
This book kind of smacked me upside out of nowhere. I read it on a recommendation knowing nothing about what I was walking into, so when it took the twists it did, I was surprised. If I were to describe Blood Music, I would describe it as Arthur C. Clarke doing body horror. I like body horror and I like Arthur C. Clarke, so this was a big hit for me. The fact that the book is a couple of decades old but still holds up in terms of science and technology is also pretty pleasant.

This book has its w
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Farhan
Funnily enough, I picked up this book and it turned out that it also discussed the concept of gestalt (like the previous book that I'd read - More than Human by Theodore Sturgeon) but in a much more imaginative and creative fashion. Bear's novel starts off with a comic book idea of a brilliant but reckless biologist tinkering with genes creating intelligent microbes and then injecting himself with the same, not realizing that the results would be far beyond not only his but anybody's wildest spe ...more
Andy
I don't often read science fiction and generally not the harder stuff but this stuck out on the shelf due to the wonderful design and then I noticed the glowing review by Neil Gaiman so thought I'd give it a go.

It deals with a reckless scientist who creates intelligent cellular material and the consequences of unleashing new life. It escalates quickly and becomes rather unpredictable and very soon it's a tense and frightening look at the future of evolution. An interesting read.
Steven Thomas
I actually listened to the (according to GoodReads) nonexistent Audible.com version of this book. A really good sci-fi/ fantasy about a man who while working on a biological/ silicon hybrid life form creates a biological computer based on cellular DNA. SInce this man is somewhat of a loser, he is found out and fired from his job. Unable to figure a way to smuggle out his research, he injects himself with it. And things go haywire from there!
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Greg Bear is one of the world's leading hard SF authors. He sold his first short story, at the age of fifteen, to Robert Lowndes's Famous Science Fiction.

A full-time writer, he lives in Washington State with his family. He is married to Astrid Anderson Bear. He is the son-in-law of Poul Anderson. They are the parents of two children, Erik and Alexandra.

http://us.macmillan.com/author/gregbear
More about Greg Bear...
Foundation and Chaos (Second Foundation Trilogy, #2) Eon (The Way, #1) The Forge of God (Forge of God, #1) Darwin's Radio (Darwin's Radio #1) Moving Mars (Queen of Angels, #3)

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“They’re trying to understand what space is. That’s tough for them. They break distances down into concentrations of chemicals. For them, space is a range of taste intensities.” 0 likes
“Maybe that’s what your machine calls infection—all the new information in my blood. Chatter. Tastes of other individuals. Peers. Superiors. Subordinates.” 0 likes
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