[By Nic Lindh on Monday, 19 July 2004]
Greg Bear’s Blood Music earned both the Hugo and Nebula awards, which means it should be really good.
But it isn’t.
The beginning of the novel, detailing the discovery of the “noosphere” of intelligent cells and the tormented, egotistical and terminally sloppy researcher who makes the scientific breakthough is taut and strong, but then after the cells run rampant and cause a mass holocaust in North America things get really trippy and strange. Trippy and strange aren’t necessarily bad qualities in a work of fiction, but Bear’s writing style, which works so well for the more down-to-Earth parts of the book, isn’t up to carrying events of the massive scale that transpire toward the end of the novel. Lots of “huh?” moments in there.
The characterizations–apart from the aforementioned scientist–also leave a lot to be desired, and don’t provide much a tableau to paint the novel’s cataclysmic climax.
This isn’t by any means a terrible book. It’s highly readable and the plot and science behind the plot are intriguing to say the least. The problem with Blood Music is that it reads more like a treatment of a novel than the novel itself.
Also be aware that the current paperback edition is absolutely littered with typos, which certainly doesn’t do Blood Music any favors. Makes you wonder how it slipped by QA at the publisher.