Technology in Greg Bear's Blood Music
Different genres of literature are particular responses to society; therefore, cyberpunk, as a genre, is a response to our contemporary society, known as the information age. One of the attributes given the genre is that it has an apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic tone, warning the reader of the perils of technology, while at the same time celebrating the possibilities of technology, usually through a strong character in the novel. In Greg Bear's Blood Music, technology is seen as having a destructive and creative forces as it reshapes the world biologically, and incorporates every living thing, including a slow girl named Suzy, into the system. Blood Music demonstrates the perils and benefits in a world full of diverse technology, typical of the cyberpunk genre, responding to frightening and powerful possibilities in the secrets of technology which are just on the brink of discovery.
First, a demonstration of the kind of technology available today would lend to a better understanding of some of the biological possibilities. Already we can clone and manipulate individual genes. We can replicate DNA patterns and build proteins. Information is available at the touch of a button on the newest technology, so that it can be ingested by the younger generations just by browsing the Net. Also, the beginnings of nanotechnology, manipulating individual atoms to create new structures, is beginning to develop. James Graves wrote in a paper focused on the technological advances in our time, that nanotechnology, not too unlike the theories behind Vergil's experiments in Blood Music, would allow us to create tiny "organisms" that could show us more about ourselves, repair individual cells, and manipulate them in such a fashion that we could be virtually immortal (Graves 13).
Although the idea of having a world without sickness, age, and death seems appealing, Greg Bear approaches the idea from the "what if" perspective of something going wrong that could be detrimental to the whole of society. In Bear's novel, Vergil, an ingenious scientist, creates smart cells from his own body, going behind the experiments of his company which is trying desperately to develop the nanotechnology that we are trying to achieve in our own time, and creates natural cells that can think on their own to manipulate their environment and make it better. Only, when the cells realize the problems within the living system and begin to change things, it is more that Virgil bargained for. Each cell from every other living thing is incorporated and melted into an alternate society, making each cell sentient, but also part of a communal group, sharing DNA, and ultimately throughout the information transference, making each individual a part of the genetic whole.
Because Virgil's creation ended the world as we know it through the use of technology, it can be seen as the dark,...