Bear in 2016
|Born||Gregory Dale Bear|
August 20, 1951
San Diego, California, U.S.
|Genre||Science fiction, Speculative fiction|
|Notable works||Blood Music|
Gregory Dale "Greg" Bear (born August 20, 1951) is an American writer and illustrator best known for science fiction. His work has covered themes of galactic conflict (Forge of God books), artificial universes (The Way series), consciousness and cultural practices (Queen of Angels), and accelerated evolution (Blood Music, Darwin's Radio, and Darwin's Children). His most recent work is the War Dogs trilogy. Greg Bear has written over 50 books in total. Greg Bear was also one of the five co-founders of the San Diego Comic-Con.
Bear was born in San Diego, California. He attended San Diego State University (1968-73), where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree. At the university, he was a teaching assistant to Elizabeth Chater in her course on science fiction writing, and in later years her friend.
Bear is often classified as a hard science fiction author because of the level of scientific detail in his work. Early in his career, he also published work as an artist, including illustrations for an early version of the Star Trek Concordance and covers for Galaxy and F&SF. He sold his first story, "Destroyers", to Famous Science Fiction in 1967.
In his fiction, Bear often addresses major questions in contemporary science and culture and proposes solutions. For example, The Forge of God offers an explanation for the Fermi paradox, supposing that the galaxy is filled with potentially predatory intelligences and that young civilizations that survive are those that do not attract their attention but stay quiet. In Queen of Angels, Bear examines crime, guilt, and punishment in society. He frames these questions around an examination of consciousness and awareness, including the emergent self-awareness of highly advanced computers in communication with humans. In Darwin's Radio and Darwin's Children, he addresses the problem of overpopulation with a mutation in the human genome making, basically, a new series of humans. The question of cultural acceptance of something new and unavoidable is also brought up.
One of Bear's favorite themes is reality as a function of observation. In Blood Music, reality becomes unstable as the number of observers (trillions of intelligent single-cell organisms) spirals higher and higher. Anvil of Stars (sequel to The Forge of God) and Moving Mars postulate a physics based on information exchange between particles, capable of being altered at the "bit level." (Bear has credited the inspiration for the idea to Frederick Kantor's 1967 treatise "Information Mechanics" (see Digital physics)) In Moving Mars, that knowledge is used to remove Mars from the solar system and transfer it to an orbit around a distant star.
Blood Music was first published as a short story (1983) and then expanded to a novel (1985). It has also been credited as the first account of nanotechnology in science fiction. More certainly, the short story is the first in science fiction to describe microscopic medical machines and to treat DNA as a computational system capable of being reprogrammed; that is, expanded and modified. In later works, beginning with Queen of Angels and continuing with its sequel, Slant, Bear gives a detailed description of a near-future nanotechnological society. The historical sequence continues with Heads, which may contain the first description of a so-called "quantum logic computer", as well as Moving Mars. The sequence also charts the historical development of self-awareness in AIs. Its continuing character Jill was inspired in part by Robert A. Heinlein's self-aware computer Mycroft HOLMES (High-Optional, Logical, Multi-Evaluating Supervisor) in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.
While most of Bear's work is science fiction, he has written in other fiction genres. Examples include Songs of Earth and Power (fantasy) and Psychlone (horror). Bear has described his Dead Lines, which straddles the line between science fiction and fantasy, as a "high-tech ghost story". He has received many accolades, including five Nebula Awards and two Hugo Awards.
Bear cites Ray Bradbury as the most influential writer in his life. He met Bradbury in 1967 and had a lifelong correspondence. As a teenager, Bear attended Bradbury lectures and events in Southern California.
In 1975, Bear married Christina M. Nielson; they divorced in 1981. In 1983, he married Astrid Anderson, the daughter of the science fiction and fantasy authors Poul and Karen Anderson. They have two children, Chloe and Alexandra. They reside near Seattle, Washington.
On September 23, 2014, Bear underwent surgery to repair an aortic artery dissection. The procedure included installation of a mechanical aortic valve.
Novels in internal chronology: