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Gregory Dale Bear Biography

science york fiction novel

Nationality: American. Born: San Diego, California, 1951. Education: San Diego State College (now University), A.B. 1969. Career: Worked in bookstores, a planetarium, and as a freelance teacher in San Diego, California. Awards: Nebula Award (Science Fiction Writers of America), best novelette and best novella, 1984, best short story, 1987, best novel, 1994; Hugo Award, best novelette, 1986, best short story, 1987; Prix Apollo, 1986. Agent: Richard Curtis, 171 East 74th Street, New York, New York 10021, U.S.A.

PUBLICATIONS

Novels

Hegira. New York, Dell, 1979.

Psychlone. New York, Ace, 1979.

Beyond Heaven's River. New York, Dell, 1980.

Strength of Stones. New York, Ace, 1981.

Corona (Star Trek novel). New York, Pocket Books, 1984.

The Infinity Concerto. New York, Berkeley, 1984.

Eon. New York, Bluejay Books, 1985.

Blood Music. New York, Arbor House, 1985.

The Serpent Mage. New York, Berkeley, 1986.

The Forge of God. New York, Tor Books, 1987.

Eternity. New York, Warner Books, 1988.

Hardfought (bound with Cascade Point by Timothy Zahn). NewYork, Tor Books, 1988.

Queen of Angels. New York, Warner Books, 1990.

Heads. Legend, 1990.

Anvil of Stars. New York, Warner Books, 1992.

Songs of Earth and Power (includes The Infinity Concerto and The Serpent Mage). Legend, 1992.

Moving Mars. New York, Tor Books, 1993.

Legacy. New York, Tor Books, 1995.

/ (pronounced "slant"). New York, Tor Books, 1997.

Dinosaur Summer. New York, Warner Aspect, 1997.

Foundation and Chaos. New York, HarperPrism, 1998.

Darwin's Radio. New York, Ballantine, 1999.

Star Wars: Rogue Planet. New York, Del Rey, 2000.

Short Stories

The Wind from a Burning Woman. Sauk City, Wisconsin, ArkhamHouse Publishers, 1983.

Sleepside Story. New Castle, Virginia, Cheap Street, 1987.

Early Harvest. New England Science Fiction Association, 1988.

Tangents. New York, Warner Books, 1989.

Sisters. Pulphouse, 1992.

The Venging. Legend, 1992.

Bear's Fantasies: Six Stories in Old Paradigms. Newark, NewJersey, Wildside Press, 1992.

Other

The White Horse Child (computer file). Union City, California, Ebook, 1992.

Introduction, Psycho Shop by Alfred Bester and Roger Zelazny. NewYork, Vintage Books, 1998.

Contributor, Isaac Asimov's War, edited by Gardner Dozois. NewYork, Ace Books, 1993.

Contributor, Far Futures, edited by Gregory Benford. New York, Tor, 1995.

Contributor, Skylife: Space Habitats in Story and Science, edited byGregory Benford and George Zebrowski. New York, Harcourt Brace, 2000.

Editor, with Martin H. Greenberg, New Legends. New York, Tor, 1995.

* * *

Greg Bear is widely considered to be among the best of his generation's science fiction writers. Specifically, Bear is felt to have made major contributions to the reinvigoration of "hard" science fiction—that is, science fiction in which the science, however speculative or far-fetched, is solidly grounded in reality. Additionally, Bear recognized during the 1980s the vast changes that were taking place in the biological sciences, building several of his most important books around biological themes and extrapolations. Blood Music was among the first novels to deal with nanotechnology, the science of engineering machines, and in this case intelligent life forms—at the microscopic and submicroscopic levels. The novel also dealt with information engineering, a theoretical field which argues that the manipulation of information itself can affect the structure of the universe; information engineering is also at the heart of Bear's award-winning novel Moving Mars. His duo of novels, Queen of Angels and / (pronounced "Slant"), along with the short novel, Heads, explore the effects of nanotechnology on a world transformed almost beyond recognition. Queen of Angels is Bear's most overtly experimental and ambitious novel. More recently he used many of his biological themes and concerns in a thriller, Darwin's Radio.

Bear has always displayed an enthusiastic willingness to stretch and experiment. Other than books that are direct or indirect sequels to each other, he has rarely repeated himself in theme or approach. His early stories and novels (he sold his first short story when he was 16) explore classic science fictional themes and settings—alien planets, mysterious structures, and the nature of religion and power. Bear is also a talented visual artist—his work has graced the covers of science fiction magazines and the reprint edition of one of his own novels—and even his earliest works were enhanced by a dramatic visual sense.

In 1985 Bear hit his stride as a writer, publishing two novels, Blood Music and Eon, that attracted substantial attention and established him as a mature novelist. The science fiction community noted the arrival of a major writer. Blood Music was nominated for the Hugo and Nebula, leading science fiction awards; the previous year a shorter version of the story won the Hugo and Nebula, while another work, the visionary and experimental Hardfought, won a Nebula. Another story, the heartbreaking "Tangents," won the 1987 Hugo and Nebula awards.

While biology has been the focus of much of Bear's major work, his other 1985 novel, Eon, demonstrated his mastery of materials more traditionally associated with science fiction: vast sweeps of time and space. Eon, and its sequels, Eternity and Legacy, explore a vast structure whose interior offers access to other times and places. Although more recent historical developments have outdated some of Eon 's underpinnings—primarily the conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union—the readability and ongoing popularity of this novel and its sequels is preserved by Bear's ability to communicate a true sense of wonder at the size and mystery of the universe, as well as his well-developed storytelling abilities and insights into characters.

Another pair of linked novels, The Forge of God and Anvil of Stars, likewise explore the vastness of space. The first novel deals with destruction of the Earth, and culminates in a sequence of images, as our planet dies, that are among the most haunting and tragic in all of science fiction. The sequel is a more straightforward revenge story, although Bear declines to offer his characters—or his readers—any easy answers or triumphs.

Following his own literary triumphs of the 1980s, Bear grew more overtly experimental and published in 1990 what many consider his finest achievement—Queen of Angels. Set in a world so transformed by nanotechnology as to be alien to us, this stylistically audacious novel is a tale of crime and punishment, and of the role and responsibility of the artist in society. Using typography, invented jargon and slang, news clips, and other narrative devices, Bear not only tells a story, he also immerses the reader in his transformed world to a degree unusual in science fiction (or, for that matter, any other type of fiction). However, other books set in the Queen of Angels world—/ and Heads—employ more traditional narrative tools.

Following Queen of Angels, Bear seemed to concentrate on extending the range of his speculations rather than his stylistic experiments. Always a clear and often a poetic writer, Bear focused his energies in the 1990s on novels that revisited many of his—and science fiction's—grand themes, but did so in literary modes more accessible to general readers than Queen of Angels. His novel Moving Mars, won the 1994 Nebula, and was one of the first of the decade's wave of large "Mars novels." The novel functions admirably as both an adventure story and as an investigation of the informational nature of our universe. Its broad speculations are among the boldest in recent science fiction.

Although it is for his science fiction that Bear is best known, he has published some fantasy, most notably the novels that form the sequence Songs of Earth and Power. Again wrestling with the nature and responsibilities of the artist, this novel sequence is among Bear's most effective, if least known, works.

Rarely forgetting that novelists are also entertainers, Bear has written more than a few works that might be classed solely as "entertainments." Chief among them is his novel Dinosaur Summer, a loving look at the motion pictures of the 1930s and 1940s, the role of science fiction itself in shaping our view of the world, and the process by which a boy becomes a man. Dinosaur Summer is perhaps the most purely delightful of Bear's works.

He has also joined in exploring the science fictional universes of other writers, most notably Isaac Asimov's legendary Foundation universe. Along with Gregory Benford and David Brin (together referred to by science fiction fans as "the killer Bs,") Bear participated in the creation of a new Foundation trilogy, linked to Asimov's great sequence of stories and novels. Bear's contribution was the novel Foundation and Chaos.

Another novel set in a universe not his own is Star Wars: Rogue Planet, an adventure tale set in the Jedi universe of George Lucas's Star Wars films. Rogue Planet was a major international bestseller.

Despite diversions in the Foundation and Star Wars universes, as the twenty-first century loomed Bear seemed determined to continue breaking new ground, setting himself new challenges. His novel Darwin's Radio synthesized much of his biological thinking and speculation, with Bear's provocative ideas about evolution couched in a taut plot. Although the book reads like a straightforward medical-scientific thriller of the sort that Michael Crichton or Robin Cook might write, the level of speculation and characterization underlying the story is far deeper than is common in suspense fiction. Bear's speculations, indeed, attracted some attention from the professional scientific community. The novel's sensibility was likewise informed by those virtues that have been hallmarks of Bear's pure science fiction—verisimilitude, thoroughness of research, seamless integration of science and plot, and careful and clear writing.

If not the sort of coterie-gathering literary breakthrough that Queen of Angels was, Darwin's Radio nonetheless sent a clear signal that Bear intended to continue breaking new ground and opening new territory, both for science fiction and for himself. He has been one of the key figures in science fiction over the past two decades, and bids fair to become one of science fiction's most effective literary ambassadors to the larger reading world.

—Keith Ferrell

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