Gregory Dale Bear (born August 20, 1951) is an American science fiction and mainstream author. His work has covered themes of galactic conflict (Forge of God books), artificial universes (Eon series), consciousness and cultural practices (Queen of Angels), and accelerated evolution (Blood Music, Darwin's Radio, and Darwin's Children). Bear, Gregory Benford, and David Brin also wrote a trilogy of prequel novels to Isaac Asimov's famous Foundation trilogy with Bear credited for the middle book in the trilogy.
Bear often addresses major questions in contemporary science and culture with fictional 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 those young civilizations which survive are those which do not attract the attention of the predators — by staying quiet. In Queen of Angels Bear examines crime, guilt and punishment in society, framing these questions around an examination of consciousness and awareness, including the emergent self-awareness of highly-advanced computers in communication with humans.
One of Bear's favorite themes is reality as a function of observers. In Blood Music reality becomes unstable as the number of observers — trillions of intelligent single-cell organisms — spirals higher and higher. Both Anvil of Stars — a 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 this idea to Frederick Kantor's 1967 treatise, "Information Mechanics.") In Moving Mars this knowledge is used to remove Mars from the solar system and transfer it to an orbit around a distant star.
Blood Music (first published as a short story in 1983, and expanded to a novel in 1985) has also been credited as being 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. This historical sequence continues with Heads — which may contain the first description of a so-called "quantum logic computer" — and with Moving Mars. This sequence also charts the historical development of self-awareness in AIs, with its continuing character, Jill, 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.
More recent works such as the Darwin's Radio/Darwin's Children pair of novels, which deal with the impact of a strange disease which appears to drive evolutionary transitions, stick closely to the known facts of molecular biology of viruses and evolution. While some fairly speculative ideas are entertained, they are introduced in such a rigorous and disciplined way that Darwin's Radio gained praise in the science journal Nature.
While most of Bear's work is science fiction, two of his early works, The Infinity Concerto and The Serpent Mage, which are now published together as one novel Songs of Earth and Power, are clearly fantasies, and Psychlone is horror. Dead Lines, which straddles the line between science fiction and fantasy was described by Bear as a "high-tech ghost story" (interview, Fiction Writers of the Monterey Peninsula). He has received many accolades, including five Nebula awards and two Hugo awards for science fiction.