Greg BearGreg Bear is an American science fiction and mainstream author who has been called the “best working writer of hard science fiction” by The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. He has been awarded two Hugos and five Nebulas for his fiction, one of only two authors to win a Nebula in every category. He has served on political and scientific action committees and has advised Microsoft Corporation, the U.S. Army, the CIA, Sandia National Laboratories, Callison Architecture, Inc., Homeland Security, and other groups and agencies.
Greg’s latest novel is Quantico. There are many terrorism thrillers. But few if any are based in reality like this novel. Greg, who worked with the government outlining bio-terrorism initiatives, has come to know the men and women of the FBI. This book represents a future that’s closer than we realize. Watch Greg talk about Quantico on The Daily Show and also watch Terror Grips the Nation. Read Sci-fi writers join war on terror and listen to his interview on SFFaudio.com.
His work has covered themes of galactic conflict (Forge of God books), artificial universes (Eon series), consciousness and cultural practices (Queen of Angels), and accelerated evolution (Blood Music, Darwin’s Radio, and Darwin’s Children). Greg, Gregory Benford, and David Brin also wrote a trilogy of prequel novels to Isaac Asimov’s famous Foundation trilogy with Greg credited for the middle book in the trilogy, Foundation and Chaos: The Second Foundation Trilogy.
Blood Music (first published as a short story in 1983, and expanded to a novel in 1985) has also been credited as being 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.
In later works, beginning with Queen of Angels and continuing with its sequel, Slant, Greg gives a detailed description of a near-future nanotechnological society. This historical sequence continues with Heads which may contain the first description of a so-called “quantum logic computer” and with Moving Mars. This sequence also charts the historical development of self-awareness in AIs, with its continuing character, Jill, inspired in part by Robert A. Heinlein’s self-aware computer Mycroft Holmes (“High-Optional, Logical, Multi-Evaluating Supervisor”) in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.
More recent works such as the Darwin’s Radio/Darwin’s Children pair of novels, which deal with the impact of a strange disease which appears to drive evolutionary transitions, stick closely to the known facts of molecular biology of viruses and evolution. While some fairly speculative ideas are entertained (it is after all, fiction) they are introduced in such a rigorous and disciplined way that Darwin’s Radio gained praise in the science journal Nature.
Greg often addresses major questions in contemporary science and culture with fictional solutions. For example, The Forge of God offers an explanation for the Fermi paradox, supposing that the galaxy is filled with potentially predatory intelligences, and that those young civilizations which survive are those which do not attract the attention of the predators by staying quiet.
In Queen of Angels he examines crime, guilt, and punishment in society, framing these questions around an examination of consciousness and awareness, including the emergent self-awareness of highly-advanced computers in communication with humans.
One of his favorite themes is 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. Both Anvil of Stars a sequel to The Forge of God and Moving Mars postulate a physics based on information exchange between particles, capable of being altered at the “bit level”. (He has credited the inspiration for this idea to Frederick Kantor’s 1967 treatise, Information Mechanics.) In Moving Mars this knowledge is used to remove Mars from the solar system and transfer it to an orbit around a distant star.
While most of Greg’s work is science fiction, two of his early works, The Infinity Concerto and The Serpent Mage, which are now published together as one novel Songs of Earth and Power, are clearly fantasies, and Psychlone is horror. Dead Lines, which straddles the line between science fiction and fantasy was described by him as a “high-tech ghost story”.
First and foremost, Greg is an author of works of speculative fiction that are intended to entertain, edify, and inspire, and the sheer audacity of his scope and vision, as well as the expertise and intelligence that he has exhibited throughout his career, have made him one of science fiction’s most respected authors. He has received many accolades, including five Nebula awards and two Hugo awards for science fiction.
New readers wanting to familiarize themselves with his writing could start with the award winners Blood Music, Moving Mars, and Darwin’s Radio which serve as a fine introduction to his body of work. Read The Opener of the Way: An Interview with Greg Bear and Conversations in Deep Time: The Greg Bear Interview.
Read Clone Wars!, Biospace 21, It’s Hard to Make a Human, The New Biology, All the Robots and Isaac Asimov, An Open Proposal to the SF Community, Jeremiad: No More Cheap Thrills, As the Zeros Roll Over, Strikes and Spares, The Machineries of Joy, Redux, Speech: Petaflops Conference, Apollo Year 25, and A Seamless Future. Read his blog! See the list of his awards. Check out his innovative Amazon download Warm Sea.
Listen to Greg on The Future and You.