Group Read 27The Big Book of Science Fiction

Story #71 of 107: “Blood Music” by Greg Bear

I can’t criticize the choice of “Blood Music” by Greg Bear for this anthology. It’s tied for 3rd place on our Classics of Science Fiction Short Stories list. In fact, The Big Book of Science Fiction contains all five of the top stories listed below. (It uses 20 of the 101 stories on our list, and 5 of the 27 stories from the 1980s.)

“Blood Music” had a total of 15 citations, which is quite significant.

Rereading “Blood Music” reminded me of how exciting science fiction used to be when it came to imagining far-out concepts. I’m currently listening to Bewilderment by Richard Powers, and at one point the narrator, the father, says he has 2,000 paperback science fiction novels laying around the house that he steals ideas from when he wants to tell his autistic son a story. That’s how I remember science fiction too, mentally indexed by ideas.

“Blood Music” is one of the best examples of the gray goo threat in fiction. Greg Bear’s particular take on Gray Goo is brilliant. Again, it’s horror science fiction, but one I enjoyed. I beginning to think the VanderMeers are actually horror fans. The next story, “Bloodchild” is another horror science fiction story. I should have kept a tally.

This novelette version of “Blood Music” first appeared in the June 1983 issue of Analog. I believe I first read it in Gardner Dozois’ The Year’s Best Science Fiction: First Annual Collection in 1984, but I also read the 1985 novel version in 1987. That’s what I vaguely remembered while reading this short version again. I need to go back and reread the novel because my vague memories recall lots of padding that made the story even better.

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James Wallace Harris, 1/8/22

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