Blood Music (novel)

Blood Music is a science fiction novel by American writer Greg Bear . It was originally published as a short story in 1983 in the American Science Fiction Analog Science Fact & Fictionmagazine, 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 [1] and for the Hugo, Campbell, and British Science Fiction Awards in 1986. [1]

Blood music deals with themes including biotechnology , nanotechnology (including the gray goo hypothesis), the nature of reality , consciousness , and artificial intelligence .

Plot summary

In the novel, biotechnologist renegade Vergil Ulam creates simple biological computers based on its own lymphocytes. Faced with orders from his nervous employing of 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 cells multiply and evolve rapidly, altering their own genetic material and quickly becoming self-aware. The nanoscale civilization Ulam, then others. The people who are infected with the virus and get high blood pressure. Ulam’s eyesight, posture, strength, and intelligence are all improved. The infected can even have conversations with their noocytes, some reporting that the cells seem to sing.

Through infection, conversion, and assimilation of humans and other organisms, the cells eventually become most prevalent in the United States. This civilization, which incorporates both the evolved noocytes and the recently assimilated human beings, is effectively forced to abandon the normal state of existence. The reason for the noocytes’ inability to remain in this reality is somewhat related to the strong anthropic principle .

The book’s structure is titled “inter-phase”, “prophase”, “metaphase”, “anaphase”, “telophase”, and “interphase”. This mirrors the major phases of the cell cycle : interphase and mitosis .


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 organizations-spirals higher and higher.


  1. ^ Jump up to:b “1985 Award Winners & Nominees” . Worlds Without End . Retrieved 2009-07-11 .

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