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Greg Bear • 1951- • Author of more than thirty books of science-fiction and fantasy • Awarded two Hugos and five Nebulas for his fiction • His most recent novels are Halo: Cryptumand Hull Zero Three • Darwin’s Radio and Darwin’s Children (1999, 2003) form a sequence about viruses and human evolution • “Blood Music” (1983) • Known for writing accurate hard-science novels
Discussion Questions • What is the reader’s first impression of Virgil? • What is Virgil’s big secret? • Was Virgil’s defiance of Gentron’s rules admirable or stupid? • What in Virgil’s character makes it believable that he would do such a thing? (Or is it not believable?) • How is nature (human and bacterial) portrayed in this story? • How does this story connect to other works we’ve read? (“There Will Come Soft Rains,” “Will Robots Inherit the Earth?,” and even “Jigsaw Man”) • What themes are present in the story? • Virgil uses a lot of technical language. Do you think the audience for this story is scientists? • How realistic is this story?
Imagining that this scenario is realistic, what is the best way for individuals and society to respond? • On the bottom of pg. 1031, Edward says, “There is only so much change…” If the process had been controlled and someone voluntarily underwent it, would it be benign? • At one point Virgil states, “They don’t know I’m in here,” and though he’s talking about his brain, do you think Bear believes there’s also something essentially Virgil that they might take over? Does this story argue against Minsky’s belief that there is not a soul/human essence/some unexplainable human trait or does it support that idea? • Did you like the ending or would you change it?
Ideas for Writing • The science of building small machines includes not only biochips but tiny machines often called nanobots. How close are engineers to building tiny machines that can be used in the human body? What uses for the machines are predicted? What are the dangers? Do any of the dangers resemble what happens in "Blood Music"? 2. "Blood Music" shares with many other works of fiction the Frankenstein theme, an idea derived from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: or The Modern Prometheus. What is the "Frankenstein theme"? (Jurassic Park, I, Robot, etc.) How does "Blood Music" resemble Shelley's novel? 3. Is Edward a hero? Support with references to the story.
Videos on Biotechnology • John Stewart interviews Greg Bear • http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-june-21-2007/greg-bear • Biobytes: Genetically Engineered Animals • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6Q5oM94bOQ&feature=related
Related Articles • Scientific American: a school in France that let’s teens experiment with modifying bacteria • http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=controversy-french-classrooms-modifying-bacteria • Orlando Sentinel: a computer virus that spread in Iran • http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/nationworld/sns-ap-iran-nuclear-virus,0,3398089.story • Website about the dangers of genetic engineering • http://online.sfsu.edu/~rone/GEessays/gedanger.htm • Greenpeace (against genetic modification) http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/agriculture/problem/genetic-engineering/
Information Taken From • “Biography.” Greg Bear. Web. 28 Jan. 2010. http://www.gregbear.com/index.cfm