Blood Music (novel)
Cover of first edition (hardcover)
|Genre||Science fiction novel|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Dewey Decimal||813/.54 19|
|LC Classification||PS3552.E157 B58 1985|
Blood Music is a science fiction novel by Greg Bear (ISBN 0-7434-4496-5). It was originally published as a short story in 1983 in the American science fiction magazine Analog Science Fact & Fiction, winning the 1983 Nebula Award for Best Novelette and the 1984 Hugo Award for Best Novelette.
Greg Bear published an expanded version in novel form in 1985. The completed novel was nominated for the Nebula Award in 1985 and for the Hugo, Campbell, and British Science Fiction Awards in 1986.
In the novel, renegade biotechnologist Vergil Ulam creates simple biological computers based on his own lymphocytes. Faced with orders from his nervous employer to destroy his work, he injects them into his own body, intending to smuggle the 'noocytes' (as he calls them) out of the company and work on them elsewhere. Inside Ulam's body, the noocytes multiply and evolve rapidly, altering their own genetic material and quickly becoming self-aware. The nanoscale civilization they construct soon begins to transform Ulam, then others. The people who are infected start to find that genetic faults such as myopia and high blood pressure are fixed. The bumps along the spine as well as the nipples fade. Finally, white stripes and ridges start growing over their bodies. Ulam reports that the cells seem to sing.
Through infection, conversion and assimilation of humans and other organisms the cells eventually aggregate most of the biosphere of North America into a region seven thousand kilometres wide. This civilization, which incorporates both the evolved noocytes and recently-assimilated conventional humans, is eventually forced to abandon the normal plane of existence in favor of one in which thought does not require a physical substrate. The reason for the noocytes' inability to remain in this reality is somewhat related to the strong anthropic principle.
This book introduces one of Bear's favorite themes - reality as a function of observers. In Blood Music, reality becomes unstable as the number of observers—trillions of intelligent single-cell organisms—spirals higher and higher.
The book has also been credited as the first account of nanotechnology in science fiction. More certainly, the short story is the first in science fiction to describe microscopic medical machines and to treat DNA as a computational system capable of being reprogrammed; that is, expanded and modified.
- "1985 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-07-11.