27 Oct 2008
Book Review: "Blood Music" by Greg Bear
Science fiction is currently my favorite book genre. I recently discovered the SF masterworks series. Actually, I noticed years ago that a lot of the sci-fi books I was reading seemed to be part of some kind of series, but I ignored that fact until two weeks ago when I looked it up, printed off the list, and decided my life would not be complete until I had read every one of them.
"Blood Music" by Greg Bear is number 40 on the SF masterworks list (irrelevant, but thought I'd mention it) The story begins with a mad scientist type called Vergil Ulam, who injects himself with his unauthorised biological experiment when he gets sacked from his biotechnologist job. A predictable mad scientist/Jekyll and Hyde/superhero type of storyline ensues. This storyline then changes in the second part to a distopian, virus spreading apocalypse scenario in which Vergil Ulam's experiment has infected the entire population of North America (bar a few baffled survivors). An infected scientist manages to get himself to Europe where he stays in a quarantine lab and experiments on himself. We are now in the midst of an non-human intelligent life storyline. The ending of this book is full of intriguing concepts as well as a fair amount of (for me at least) confusion as to what's really happening. For example, the 'intelligent virus' forms itself into various surreal shapes to form a completely new landscape, but I found myself confused as to why these shapes came about. There seemed to be no logical explanation apart from to set up some crazy surreal imagery.
None of the characters in this story are particularly memorable. But this book isn't about the personal journey of any human characters, It is about the development of an intelligent disease (the humans are more or less cameos). It features loads of classic sci-fi ideas all thrown in together which individually would have been predictable, but together formed an engrossing and thought-provoking read.