Bear, Greg(ory Dale) 1951-
BEAR, Greg(ory Dale) 1951-
PERSONAL: Born August 20, 1951, in San Diego, CA; son of Dale Franklin (a naval officer) and Wilma (a secretary; maiden name, Merriman) Bear; married Christina Nielsen, January 12, 1975 (divorced, August, 1981); married Astrid Anderson, June 18, 1983; children: (second marriage) Erik William Anderson Bear, Alexandra Astrid Bear. Education: San Diego State College (now University), A.B., 1969.
ADDRESSES: Home—506 Lakeview Rd., Alderwood Manor, WA 98037. Agent—Richard Curtis, 171 E. 74th St., New York, NY 10021.
CAREER: Writer. Worked in bookstores, at a planetarium, and as a teacher in San Diego, CA; parttime journalist for newspapers, including Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union. Member of citizen's advisory council on National Space Policy; member of advisory board, Science Fiction Museum Hall of Fame, Seattle, WA; consultant for companies and government agencies, including U.S. Army, Central Intelligence Agency, Microsoft Corp., Callison Architects, and Sandia National Laboratories; science advisor for television pilot of Earth 2
MEMBER: Science Fiction Writers of America (vice president for one year; president, 1988–90), Association for Science Fiction Artists.
AWARDS, HONORS: Nebula Award, Science Fiction Writers of America, 1984, for novelette Blood Music, 1984, for novella Hardfought, 1987, for short story "Tangents," 1994, for Moving Mars, 2000, for Darwin's Radio; Hugo Award, 1984, for novelette Blood Music, 1987, for story "Tangents"; Prix Apollo, 1986, for Blood Music; Endeavor Award, 1999, for Dinosaur Summer, 2000, for Darwin's Radio.
NOVELS; SCIENCE FICTION, EXCEPT AS NOTED
Hegira, Dell (New York, NY), 1979.
Psychlone, Ace (New York, NY), 1979.
Beyond Heaven's River, Dell (New York, NY), 1980.
Strength of Stones, Ace (New York, NY), 1981.
Blood Music (novelette; first published in Analog, June, 1983), Arbor House (New York, NY), 1985.
Corona ("Star Trek" novel), Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1984.
The Infinity Concerto, Berkley (New York, NY), 1984.
Eon, Bluejay Books (New York, NY), 1985.
The Serpent Mage (sequel to The Infinity Concerto), Berkley (New York, NY), 1986.
The Forge of God, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1987.
Eternity, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1988.
Hardfought (bound with Cascade Point by Timothy Zahn), Tor Books (New York, NY), 1988.
Queen of Angels, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1990.
Heads, Legend (London, England), 1990, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1991.
Anvil of Stars, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1992.
Songs of Earth and Power (includes The Infinity Concerto and The Serpent Mage), Legend (London, England), 1992, revised edition, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1994.
Moving Mars, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1993.
Legacy, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1995.
/ (title pronounced "slant"), Tor Books (New York, NY), 1997, also published as Slant, 1997.
Dinosaur Summer, Warner Aspect (New York, NY), 1997.
Foundation and Chaos, HarperPrism (New York, NY), 1998.
Darwin's Radio, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1999.
Rogue Planet, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2000.
Vitals, Del Rey (New York, NY), 2002.
Darwin's Children, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2003.
Dead Lines (horror), Ballantine (New York, NY), 2004.
SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS
The Wind from a Burning Woman, Arkham House (Sauk City, WI), 1983.
Sleepside Story, Cheap Street (New Castle, VA), 1987.
Early Harvest, New England Science Fiction Association (Framingham, MA), 1988.
Tangents, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1989.
Sisters, Pulphouse (Eugene, OR), 1992.
The Venging, Legend (London, England), 1992.
Bear's Fantasies: Six Stories in Old Paradigms, Wildside Press (Rockville, MD), 1992.
The Collected Stories of Greg Bear, Tor Books (New York, NY), 2002.
W3 (three stories; e-book), iBooks, 2003.
Artificial Life (book and CD-ROM), Pioneer LDC Japan, 1994.
(Editor, with Martin Greenberg) New Legends, Random House (London, England), 1994, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1995.
Also editor with wife, Astrid Bear, of Forum, Science Fiction Writers of America. Contributor of stories to anthologies, including Universe 8, edited by Terry Carr, Doubleday, 1978; New Dimensions 8, edited by Robert Silverberg, Harper & Row, 1978; Universe 9, edited by Terry Carr, Doubleday, 1979; Dragons of Light, edited by Orson Scott Card, Ace, 1980; New Terrors 2, edited by Ramsey Campbell, Pan, 1980; and Far Frontiers #1, edited by John F. Carr and Jerry Pournelle, Baen Books, 1985. Contributor to science fiction periodicals, including Analog, Galaxy, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Rigel, Omni, Famous Science Fiction, and Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. Book reviewer for San Diego Union Book Review supplement, 1979–82; contributor of opinion articles to Newsday; speech published in Proceedings of the APS, 2004.
Bear's writings have been translated into many languages, including Spanish, French, Polish, Russian, Dutch, German, Hebrew, Greek, Swedish, Finish, Portuguese, Italian, Japanese, Serbian, Croatian, Bulgarian, and Czechoslovakian.
ADAPTATIONS: Bear's story "Dead Run" was adapted for The Twilight Zone television series in 1986; Blood Music was broadcast as a radio play by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and was optioned for a feature film by Zide Entertainment; The Forge of God and Anvil of Stars were optioned for film adaptations by Warner Bros.; audio versions were recorded of Blood Music, The Wind from a Burning Woman, Moving Mars, Darwin's Radio, Darwin's Children, Vitals, and Queen of Angels. Many of Bear's writings are available in electronic formats through his publishers.
SIDELIGHTS: Greg Bear is recognized as one of today's most important science-fiction writers. He has won the prestigious Nebula Award five times and has two Hugo Awards to his credit. In the St. James Guide to Science-Fiction Writers, David Brin stated that few SF authors "have been as influential in transforming the genre as Greg Bear, a prolific leader in exploring the concept of change as it affects civilization, science, and even human nature. Perhaps no other writer so well typifies one of the hallmarks of science fiction—the belief that ideas are among the most precious things."
The son of a traveling U.S. Navy officer, Bear lived in the continental United States, Alaska, Japan, and the Philippines during his childhood. It was in Alaska, at age nine, that he wrote his first short story. By the time he was fourteen, he had begun submitting his short stories to magazines; and at fifteen he sold his first short story to Robert Lowndes' magazine Famous Science Fiction.
It took Bear five years to sell his next short story, but after that his work began to appear in science fiction magazines with some regularity. Though he completed his first novel, The Infinity Concerto, when he was nineteen years old, the first of his novels to be published was Hegira, in 1979. Hegira is the story of a civilization that is trapped in an artificial world. In this world, the only relief from cultural amnesia is found inscribed on the walls of mammoth towers, which stretch above the earth, beyond the sky. Like many of Bear's novels and short stories, Hegira combines powerful dreamlike images and imaginative concepts to give the reader a new perspective on science and society.
One of Bear's first works to become a science-fiction bestseller, Eon, was published in 1985. In this work, a huge, hollowed-out asteroid appears in the solar system and begins to orbit the Earth. Investigators, led by scientist Patricia Vasquez, discover that this asteroid is actually a spaceship, and that deserted chambers inside the ship, which are filled with forests, lakes, rivers, and floating cities, are endpoints to "hyperspace tunnels" that reach through time and paratime. The asteroid has come from the future of a parallel earth, and as such it holds documents that forecast that a nuclear war is only months away. Armed with this information, part of Earth's population escapes by traveling along a path called the Way. Writing in Science Fiction Chronicle, Don D'Ammassa described Eon as "thoroughly readable, with lots of adventure, a complex plot, an interesting mystery, and well resolved characters." On a less favorable note, Gene Deweese, writing in Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Review, believed the book to be overlong, and "despite the awesomeness of the setting, there is little mystery." Alex Raskin declared in the Los Angeles Times Book Review that "this attempt to venture beyond the stylistic frontiers of science fiction isn't wholly successful…. Each part, however, is entertaining in itself." In the Washington Post Book World, John Clute wrote that "the Way has come to represent so complex an image of Future History that it is impossible to grasp it whole. But Bear's own grasp is unfaltering, his control over the ramifying implications of his tale nearly perfect. Eon may be the best-constructed hard sf epic yet."
Published in 1988, Eternity is a sequel to Eon. As the novel begins, Earth has survived a nuclear war, an encounter with a supercivilization, and an alien invasion. The designer of the Way, Pavel Mirsky, now appears to warn Earth's inhabitants that the Way, currently sealed, must be reopened and then destroyed. In Science Fiction Chronicle, D'Ammassa credited Eternity's "strongly realized characters" and "marvelously inventive setting" with the book's success. Writing in Publishers Weekly, Sybil Steinberg called the novel a "slow visionary tale" but noted that Bear's presentation "of the different responses of intricate, interlocking cultures is striking." Reviewing Eternity in Analog: Science Fiction and Science Fact, Tom Easton remarked, "If you enjoyed the first volume of the duo, you'll enjoy the second. If you didn't, you may still enjoy this one, for it does neatly wrap up the whole ball of string, and the characters do seem better realized."
Legacy is the third volume in the "Eon" series. Twenty-five years after the opening of the Way, Olmy Ap Sennon is sent to spy on 4,000 "divaricates" who fled the starship Thistledown in order to live in the land of Lamarckia, where they believed they could lead a utopian existence. When he gets there, Olmy finds that they are engaged in a full-blown civil war. Lamarckia is a planet whose ecosystem adapts readily to change; it is populated by organisms that sample and share each other's features and incorporate what they find useful. In the New York Times Book Review, Gerald Jonas noted that "Greg Bear, a talented and ambitious writer who never plays it safe, has had his share of successes and failures. Legacy … is one of his triumphs." In Booklist, Roland Green wrote that the work "will not disappoint Eon's fans and … stands well enough to be read on its own."
Blood Music is considered by many critics to be one of Bear's most influential works. The novel was based on a short story of the same title that won both Hugo and Nebula Awards, and the novel took the Prix Apollo in France. The story follows Vergil Ulam, a scientist in California who is attempting to create a new form of life. He is determined to tailor a common virus into a computer biochip, but instead he creates an independent microscopic intelligence that breeds, spreads, and mutates. When he is fired from his job because he is caught doing unauthorized experiments, Vergil injects himself with the disease culture in order to smuggle it out of the company. Vergil's cells acquire first the gift of intelligence and then the power to create. Algis Budrys, writing in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, noted that Blood Music "is an as yet unaccountably important book; half really real, half painted real, wholly striking." He added that what Bear "has written may be read as a horror novel by some; by dedicated SF readers, it will be read with fascination as we see the classic evolution of the story from its simple initial premise to its fully deployed panoply of eventual consequences."
In 1987 Bear inaugurated a new sci-fi series with The Forge of God. This complicated end-of-the-world tale is set in 1996, when Earth is invaded by alien planet eaters. One who is found in Death Valley predicts Earth's destruction, while aliens landing in Australia welcome the planet into their galactic community. The contradicting approaches create confusion for scientists and politicians alike. Meanwhile, the aliens release a device into Earth's core that will destroy the planet, prompting a network of humans to band together to save themselves. In Voice of Youth Advocates, Judy Kowalski described the novel as "an interesting speculation on how humans will react to the knowledge of alien invasion." John G. Cramer, writing in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, noted that Bear's "protagonists are swept along by forces beyond their control, behaving with admirable rationality and doing reasonable and human things in the face of an impossible situation."
In the sequel to The Forge of God, titled Anvil of Stars, several children who have been rescued from Earth by a group of alien benefactors are sent on a mission of vengeance, to find the planet killers and to destroy their worlds. The children, who live on the spaceship Dawntreader and are led by Marty Gordon, grow into young adults who face a moral dilemma: Is it right to eliminate an entire species for revenge? In Booklist, Roland Green wrote that the author is "a master of both technical wizardry and powerful scenes." Reviewing Anvil of Stars in Publishers Weekly, a critic felt that "Bear draws on the full range of his gifts … to create a gripping story."
Queen of Angels, which is set in Los Angeles in 2147, presents psychotherapy as an exact science, creating a rift between the "therapied" and the "untherapied" in society. Many writers and artists choose to remain untherapied because they are afraid that receiving therapy will cause them to become passionless and ruin their creativity. Emanual Goldsmith is a celebrated untherapied poet who has just killed eight of his young disciples, and Mary Choy from the Los Angeles Police Department is assigned to the murder case. As Choy searches for Goldsmith, a team of scientific geniuses hired by the father of one of the victims is probing Goldsmith's mind to find out why he killed his friends. Laura Staley, reviewing Queen of Angels in the Voice of Youth Advocates, wrote that the novel "will provide much entertainment—and food for thought."
Bear's unusually titled work / (pronounced "slant"), a sequel to Queen of Angels, concerns artificial intelligence and nanotechnology in the twenty-first century. The action revolves around Omphalos, which is reputed to be a cryogenic repository but is actually a huge survival fortress run by Roddy, an artificial intelligence created by a bizarre genius named Seefa Schnee. Omphalos is owned by Aristos, a secret organization made up of a group of wealthy and powerful individuals who want to destroy society, and Schnee has already distributed a virus designed to break down the genetic, physical, and mental therapy that holds society together.
Moving Mars is set in the same fictional universe as Queen of Angels. The novel opens in the year 2171, or Mars Year 53, as the Martian colonists are under pressure to centralize their society of Binding Multiples, or leagues of families. The story is written as a memoir by Casseia Majumbar, a college student who gets caught up in the political conflicts and eventually rises to a diplomatic position. Casseia travels to Earth, where she encounters deep social and cultural divisions between the planets. When Casseia's former lover, Charles Franklin, and his colleagues introduce revolutionary theories in physics that show Mars to be a threat to Earth, Earth's government disrupts Mars's workings via computer viruses. Faced with escalating technological war, Casseia, now vice president of a newly elected Martian government, joins with a few others to decide whether to move their planet—literally.
Writing in School Library Journal, Christine C. Menefee noted that Moving Mars "is evocative of the Martian Chronicles in some winning ways, but its scientific and political content is also rich in contemporary questions." In Analog: Science Fiction and Science Fact, Tom Easton wrote that Bear "does such a grand job of establishing credibility for a Mars with fossils, a society built on Binding Multiples …, realistic politics, and sympathetic characters." Moving Mars was the winner of the 1994 Nebula Award for best novel.
While many science-fiction writers have focused on speculative advances in technology as the foundation for their plots, Bear has been at the forefront of the genre in writing about the possible effects of biological changes for humanity in the future. His novels Darwin's Radio and Darwin's Children have been roundly praised by many critics for dealing with an evolutionary concept in a scientifically realistic manner, while still creating believable and compelling characters. The premise in these novels is that humans have for eons possessed a retrovirus that occasionally becomes active, causing stunning leaps in evolution that are contrary to the traditional Darwinian concept of gradual evolution over many generations. The last time this happened, in Bear's story, was when modern Homo sapiens sprang forth from Neanderthals. When it happens again in modern times, a new species of humans is created that possess extraordinary skills in communication. Not only can these people communicate verbally in remarkable ways, but they also communicate by scent, skin coloration, and facial expressions enhanced by additional musculature. Naturally, when women suddenly begin giving birth to these remarkable children, panic and social unrest result. Many women miscarry, but other babies survive; civil unrest begins, and the government acts by essentially creating internment camps for the new species.
Caught up in this evolutionary dilemma are Bear's central characters: an anthropologist named Mitch Rafelson, who first speculated on the virus when he discovered remains of Neanderthals along with those of a modern human baby; his wife, geneticist Kaye Lang; and their daughter, Stella Nova, who is one of the new species of human. The family is captured by the government, and Mitch is temporarily imprisoned while Stella is placed in one of the camps. In Darwin's Children the parents both work to try to free their daughter while they try to understand better what has been happening to humanity.
Darwin's Radio earned Bear his fifth Nebula Award and both books gained high critical praise. Writing in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Robert K. J. Killheffer proposed that "Darwin's Radio represents the fulfillment of the promise Bear showed in his award-winning Blood Music." Noting that other authors have attempted the theme of rapid speciation in their books, Killheffer asserted that Bear's version "is far superior," a book that is "a joy" to read because "it succeeds on so many different levels." In addition to biology and society, Bear "also explores the seemingly paradoxical question of spirituality" in his "outstanding novel," according to School Library Journal critic Christine C. Menefee. Writing about Darwin's Children for Library Journal, Douglas C. Lord also praised the "unusual depth" of Bear's characters. L. J. Davis concluded in a Harper's review that Bear "is at the top of his form," setting himself apart in his skill with characterization, dialogue, and descriptive writing.
In Vitals, Bear also investigates the effects of biological changes on humanity, but from a different angle. In this case, it is a bacteria that offers people immortality, but with one unpleasant side effect: driving the infected person insane. Biologist Hal Cousins believes he is the first to discover the bacteria at the bottom of the sea; however, he soon learns that a former Soviet scientist found it decades ago. That scientist has created a secret organization called Silk, which has been infecting important political leaders and others throughout the world with the bacteria. Now Silk targets Cousins as a threat. Although a Publishers Weekly reviewer found the science in the story to be realistic, the critic felt that Bear takes it to silly extremes that mimic "the Bond ethos at its hokiest." On the other hand, a Kirkus Reviews contributor deemed Vitals "a marvelous froth of doom and paranoia."
After publishing Darwin's Children, Bear ventured into the horror genre with Dead Lines. Peter Russell, who formerly worked as a soft pornography film writer, is now working for the millionaire Joseph Weinstein. One of the perks of the job is that Peter is given a new type of telephone called a Trans, which he is told to publicize. This strangely efficient device, Peter discovers, also gives its user access to the dead, an ability that becomes important to him because his daughter was recently murdered. Of course, to make it a true horror tale, use of the Trans has some unpleasant consequences as well. Calling Dead Lines a successful mix of the horror of Dean Koontz and the noirish world of Raymond Chandler, a Kirkus Reviews contributor praised the book as "intensely seen and free of cliches," a tale "well on its way to being a suspense classic." Although Library Journal critic Sara Tompson felt that the story is "not as polished as some of Bear's sf," Carl Hays concluded in Booklist that Dead Lines is "effectively chilling and … a good pick for sf and horror fans."
The hallmark of Bear's stories continues to be his creation of compelling images that stay with the reader long after the story is finished. His work has been compared to that of Robert A. Heinlein and Ursula K. LeGuin because of his ability to reconstruct basic human relationships in plausible ways. As David Brin stated in the St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers, Bear "applies energy and thorough research to prospecting concepts far beyond today's headlines."
Outside the realm of novel writing, Bear's strong interests in science, particularly astronomy and physics, have served him well as a freelance journalist. On one assignment, he covered the Voyager missions to Jupiter and Saturn for the San Diego Union. Bear has also produced articles on film for the Los Angeles Times, and frequently lectures for the San Diego City Schools. Bear is also a talented illustrator, and a founding member of the Association for Science Fiction Artists (ASFA). His illustrations have appeared in Galaxy, Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Vertex, as well as on book covers.
Bear once told CA: "All my life (or at least as long as I remember) I've enjoyed telling stories about marvelous people, events, and places. The pleasure I get from writing science fiction and fantasy is enormous. I do not limit myself as to what I will write or how I will write it, and I hope my readers enjoy the result as much as I do."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
St. James Guide to Science-Fiction Writers, 4th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
American Scientist, November, 2000, review of Darwin's Radio, p. 562.
Analog: Science Fiction and Science Fact, March, 1989, Tom Easton, review of Eternity, p. 181; April, 1994, Tom Easton, review of Moving Mars, p. 162.
Booklist, June 15, 1989, Roland Green, review of The Forge of God, p. 1783; April 15, 1992, p. 1483; July, 1995, Roland Green, review of Legacy, p. 1865; December 15, 2000, Jeanette Larson, review of Darwin's Radio, p. 839; October 15, 2001, Roland Green, review of Vitals, p. 354; April 15, 2002, Ray Olson, review of Vitals, p. 1387; September 1, 2002, Roland Green, review of The Collected Stories of Greg Bear, p. 70; February 15, 2003, Regina Schroeder, review of Darwin's Children, p. 1058; May 1, 2004, Carl Hays, review of Dead Lines, p. 1551.
Entertainment Weekly, June 25, 2004, Marc Bernardin, review of Dead Lines, p. 170.
Harper's, January, 2002, L. J. Davis, review of Darwin's Radio, p. 70.
Kansas City Star, September 26, 2002, Robert Folsom, review of The Collected Stories of Greg Bear.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2001, review of Vitals, p. 1459; January 1, 2003, review of Darwin's Children, p. 31; April 1, 2004, review of Dead Lines, p. 283.
Kliatt, January, 2005, Miles Klein, review of Dead Lines, p. 40.
Library Journal, December, 2000, Douglas C. Lord, review of Darwin's Radio, p. 212; December, 2001, Jackie Cassada, review of Vitals, p. 180; February 15, 2003, Jackie Cassada, review of Darwin's Children, p. 172; November 1, 2003, Douglas C. Lord, review of Darwin's Children, p. 138; June 1, 2004, Sara Tompson, review of Dead Lines, p. 118; May 15, 2005, Douglas C. Lord, review of Dead Lines, p. 157.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, July 27, 1986, Alex Raskin, review of Eon, p. 8; September 20, 1987, John G. Cramer, review of The Forge of God.
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, September, 1985, Algis Budrys, review of Blood Music, p. 26; March, 2000, Robert K. J. Killheffer, review of Darwin's Radio, p. 30.
Nature, 2000, Michael A. Goldman, review of Darwin's Radio; August 14, 2003, Michael A. Goldman, review of Darwin's Children, p. 726.
New York Times Book Review, September 10, 1995, Gerald Jonas, review of Legacy, p. 44.
People, July 5, 2004, James Ireland Baker, review of Dead Lines, p. 48.
Publishers Weekly, July 7, 1989, Sybil Steinberg, review of Eternity, p. 53; April 6, 1992, review of Anvil of Stars, p. 54; December 17, 2001, review of Vitals, p. 69; March 3, 2003, review of Darwin's Children, p. 57, and Michael Levy, "The Shape of Things to Come" (interview), p. 59; April 26, 2004, review of Dead Lines, p. 45.
School Library Journal, December, 1994, Christine C. Menefee, review of Moving Mars, p. 38; August, 2003, Christine C. Menefee, review of Darwin's Children, p. 187.
Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Review, summer, 1986, Gene Deweese, review of Eon, p. 44.
Science Fiction Chronicle, December, 1985, Don D'Ammassa, review of Eon, p. 42; January, 1989, Don D'Ammassa, review of Eternity, p. 44.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel, August 26, 2002, Bill Hirschman, review of Vitals.
Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 1988, Judy Kowalski, review of The Forge of God, p. 285; December, 1990, Laura Staley, review of Queen of Angels, p. 293.
Washington Post Book World, August 25, 1985, John Clute, review of Eon.
AllSciFi.com, http://www.allscifi.com/ (August 30, 2005), Harriet Klausner, review of Dead Lines and Darwin's Children.
Fiction Writers of the Monterey Peninsula Web site, http://www.fwomp.com/ (August 30, 2005), interview with Bear.
Greg Bear Home Page, http://www.gregbear.com (August 30, 2005).
Infinity Plus Web site, http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/ (August 30, 2005), Nick Gevers, interview with Bear.
WritersWrite.com, http://www.writerswrite.com/ (September 22, 2005), Greg Knollenberg, interview with Bear.