Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Blood Music” as Want to Read:
Blood Music
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Blood Music

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  10,386 ratings  ·  523 reviews
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.
Paperback, 344 pages
Published September 1st 2005 by iBooks (first published April 1st 1985)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Blood Music, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Judy Here is an article I found about how observations can shape reality as postulated in Blood Music. According to the Wikipedia article on Bear this is o…moreHere is an article I found about how observations can shape reality as postulated in Blood Music. According to the Wikipedia article on Bear this is one of his favorite themes in his work:

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  10,386 ratings  ·  523 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Blood Music

(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
Kevin Kuhn
Apr 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Paul Bryant
Sep 25, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf-novels-aaargh

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
Sep 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
“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
Jan 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: from-library, 2016
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
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
Sep 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Lasairfiona Smith
Aug 21, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Those that love horrible writing. I mean bad.
Shelves: dontbother
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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. - -
May 05, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Jul 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
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'
May 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 31, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
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
Jul 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
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
Ben Loory
Sep 25, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Jan 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
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.

David Nichols
Feb 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi, reviewed
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.
Aug 17, 2009 rated it liked it
I'd given this book 2.5 if I had had the option to do so. Closer to "mediocre" than to "multiple-award-winner".
Aug 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
My first of many (and still my favorite) Greg Bear book. This guy is good!
Storyline: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Writing Style: 3/5
World: 3/5

The last epidemilogical hard science fiction book I read was......also written by Greg Bear! Blood Music shared a lot with the Darwin's Radio duology. And when I say, "a lot" I mean the same subgenre, the same general plot structure, more or less the same problem to understand and respond to, and mostly the same types of characters. I did wonder though if I was being too critical. Perhaps some who read military space science fiction novels
Dec 22, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
D.J. Cockburn
What would happen if a socially awkward genius was to tinker with his own DNA until his immune system learned to think for itself? That's the starting point for Blood Music, which spends the rest of the novel answering the question. I don't think I'm giving away any spoilers by saying it's not pretty.

The genius in question, Vergil Ulam, is straight out of central casting. He's the brilliant loner who is much better at solving the problem in front of him than at predicting consequences. He's depi
Jan 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Strange, creepy, beautiful, and insane
With these four adjectives, I can somehow summarize this book.

While borrowed some elements from the classics like Frankenstein, The Time Machine, and I dare to say Solaris (plus maybe other books that I haven’t read yet), Greg Bear created a world unlike any of them. In his world, you, as the spectator, can’t stand your ground till the very end. Your emotions will be fluctuating wildly during the journey. Whenever you think that you find the solution, and y
Chris Kelly
Sep 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi
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
Neal Asher
Feb 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
As expected I did very much enjoy this. I love the idea of transformations like the ones in this (telegraphed right from the start) and wasn't disappointed with them. The book went from a bit of genetic manipulation to quantum mechanics and rewriting the laws of physics, with an interesting spin on how those laws are formed. It also dealt with immortality, and I'm a sucker for that. One teensy little problem, however. This book suffers from what I'll call 'the slide rule effect'. Some of the old ...more
Apr 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great, timeless story about how the actions of one geeky science guy change the world after he recklessly engages in dangerous scientific research without regard for safety or consequences. I say timeless because I remember enjoying this book a long time ago, and surprisingly the science (such as it is) holds up fairly well.

Blood Music, however lofty its goals of staying in the realm of smart sci-fi, devolves purely into fantasy towards the end, with a God-like universe that can accept or reje
Mar 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Accelerando
  • Stand on Zanzibar
  • The Book of Skulls
  • Footfall
  • The Legacy of Heorot (Heorot #1)
  • Brightness Reef (Uplift Storm Trilogy, #1)
  • Terminal World
  • Metastasis
  • A Bridge of Years
  • Moonseed (NASA Trilogy, #3)
  • Factoring Humanity
  • Starfish (Rifters, #1)
  • Hothouse
  • Startide Rising (The Uplift Saga, #2)
  • Ship of Fools
  • The Peripheral
  • The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer
  • The Gentle Giants of Ganymede (Giants, #2)
See similar books…
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.

Related Articles

So many aspects of life and leisure have changed. This is true. It’s also true that we need to take care of ourselves, collectively and i...
215 likes · 117 comments
“Thought moves like a dissociation of leaves across a lawn in a breeze.” 5 likes
“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.” 3 likes
More quotes…