This is one in a series of essays about enthralling books. I asked my friends and colleagues to recommend a book that took over their life. I told them the book didn't have to be a literary masterpiece. The only thing that mattered was that the book captivated them and carried them into the world within its pages, making them ignore the world around them. I asked: "Did you shirk responsibilities so you could read it? Did you call in sick? Did you read it until dawn? That's the book I want you to tell us about!" See all the essays in the Enthralling Book series here. — Mark
Blood Music by Greg Bear is one of the most enthralling books I've ever read.
I've been absolutely riveted and enthralled by many of Greg's books, but this one has a unique quality that I found most appealing. It's the vast breadth of the progression of the story, the shear imaginative distance traveled from where it starts to where it ends. And it's not a long book!
Published in 1985, the story begins in a very plausible modern setting and deals with the world of microbiology and genetic engineering. It is credited with being the first account of nanotechnology in science fiction. It quickly develops very interesting, realistic characters and intrigue. It starts to play like a fascinating thriller about containing a science experiment gone wrong. It accelerates steadily with increasing suspense and just as you are excitedly anticipating where you think it might be going, it leaps way over your expectations. The scope of imagination is mind boggling. It pours on more and more extreme departures from the expectations established by the modest, reality-based beginning. It turns upside down every aspect of the ideas and the genre it explores.
The book escalates like nothing I've ever read. It goes so far, so quickly, yet builds very cleverly from such a realistic and familiar context, it seems like it's really happening. Over and over again I was not only surprised, but shocked by the incredible imaginative leaps. I was genuinely freaked out at times. I actually found myself exclaiming aloud!
I could not stop reading it. I was taken far beyond my wildest expectations. The utterly un-anticipatable and mind bending conclusion inspired a truly transcendent experience. Like the characters in the book, I was completely transformed. I'm different now. In a good way.
Now you should read it. Or listen to it. It's also one of the best audio books I've ever experienced.
Buy Blood Music on Amazon