The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Thirty-two-year-old Vergil Ulam is a brilliant but undisciplined bioengineer at the Genetron laboratories in La Jolla, California. This area is known as Enzyme Valley, the biochip equivalent of Silicon Valley. His pet project is what he calls “biologic,” the development of “thinking” lymphocytes that he describes as autonomous organic computers. When his employer learns that Ulam has been conducting this research for the past two years on mammalian cells, Ulam is fired. Before he leaves the building, he injects himself with the cells and destroys the records of his research.

Ulam had hoped to retrieve the lymphocytes from his system and continue his research. Two weeks later, though, he still has not found access to a lab, and he knows that it is too late to remove the altered cells. The first changes to his system that he notices are a craving for sweets, better eyesight, and a better sex life. When he realizes that there is no turning back, he visits his clairvoyant mother. She immediately discerns that his experiment has gotten beyond her son’s control but that it is his life’s work.

Ulam concludes that the lymphocytes have developed the capacity to spread their biologic to other types of cells and that they could migrate outside his body. He visits Edward Milligan, a school friend, and explains his theory that human DNA has spent millions of years building to a climax that is now expressing itself in Ulam’s experiment, which...

(The entire section is 557 words.)

Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Blood Music is constructed in sections, with frequent, skillful shifts of point of view, especially in the later part. After Vergil's...

(The entire section is 120 words.)

Ideas for Group Discussions

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Because of its topical focus on the biotechnological altering of human life, Blood Music should generate intriguing discussions. The...

(The entire section is 380 words.)

Social Concerns

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

In the hard science fiction novel Blood Music, Bear explores the far-reaching impact of biotechnological research gone awry. Vergil I....

(The entire section is 320 words.)

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Blood Music and the short story from which it was developed were considered innovative, so much so that Bear's writing reputation...

(The entire section is 311 words.)

Related Titles

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Bear's award-winning short story "Blood Music" is centered in the relationship between Vergil and Edward and ends with Edward's absorption...

(The entire section is 24 words.)


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Blood Music is available on audiocassette, read by George Guidall and published by Recorded Books in 1991. (The short story "Blood...

(The entire section is 66 words.)