Prolific SF/fantasy author Greg Bear has died at 71.
Bear, who died in November after suffering several strokes during heart surgery, was widely acclaimed for his wide-ranging and epic science fiction and fantasy.
An international bestseller and Heinlein Award-winner, Bear wrote more than 50 novels and almost as many works of short fiction, and edited an important Poul Anderson anthology.
Even though Bear never won a Prometheus Award, much of his life and work were “Prometheus-adjacent.”
Among Bear’s best-known novels: Moving Mars (a Nebula Award winner), Darwin’s Radio (a Nebula Award winner), Blood Music (a Hugo and Nebula award finalist), Eon and its sequels Eternity and Legacy, The Forge of God (a Hugo and Nebula nominee) and its sequel Anvil of Stars, Queen of Angels (a Hugo finalist) and its followup /Slant.
Heads, a sequel to Queen of Angels, has been credited with the first description of a so-called “quantum logic computer.”
Meanwhile, Moving Mars, also in the Queen of Angels universe, charts the historical development of self-awareness and artificial intelligence, according to Wikipedia, while its continuing character Jill was inspired in part by Robert Heinlein’s self-aware computer in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, one of the first two works inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame.
Bear, the son-in-law of multiple Prometheus winner Poul Anderson, and Gardner Dozois co-edited the Poul Anderson 2014 anthology Multiverse: Exploring Poul Anderson’s Worlds, which included an Anderson-universe story by Bear and stories and essays by other writers.
Although Bear’s fiction never was nominated for a Prometheus (primarily because few if any of his terrific novels fit the award’s distinctive focus), many libertarian and freedom-loving sf readers were fans of Bear.
In science fiction, Bear’s scope, imagination and plausible science-oriented world-building often rivaled such golden-age classic authors as Heinlein (throughout his Future History series), Prometheus winner Larry Niven (most notably, his Ringworld sagas) and Isaac Asimov (whose Foundation novels inspired Bear’s sequel Foundation and Chaos, part of the multi-volume continuation of Asimov’s classic (if initially statist in its central-planning scenario) series with co-authors David Brin, a multiple Prometheus nominee, and hard-sf-author Gregory Benford, a libertarian and Reason magazine contributing editor for many years).
Bear also co-authored the Mongoliad trilogy (2012-2013) with several other authors, including three-time Prometheus winner Neal Stephenson (Cryptonomicon, The System of the World, Seveneves).
Bear cited Ray Bradbury, who he met in 1967 and had a lifelong correspondence with, as the most influential writer in his life. Bradbury, of course, was one of the earliest inductees into the Prometheus Hall of Fame in 1984 for Fahrenheit 451, his classic dystopian novel championing free expression, freedom of speech and press and the importance of uncensored books and literature as part of the memory, history and discourse of a healthy culture and a free, progressing, error-correcting civilization.
LOCUS TRIBUTES TO BEAR
Here’s an excerpt from the tribute essay that Bear’s editor Richard Curtis wrote as part of a series of memorial articles about Bear in the January 2023 issue of Locus magazine, the monthly trade magazine covering the science-fiction and fantasy community and sf/fantasy publishing:
“Greg’s career spans the evolution of the science fiction genre from mass market paperback originals to mainstream blockbusters to the E-book Revolution. He fearlessly and presciently tackled cosmically massive subjects – nanomedicine, runaway genetic mutations, programming DNA, a future bureau of investigation, computer self-awareness, the existence of souls, and much, more more.
“His storytelling techniques spanned an incredible range of narrative skills, from the hard prose of space adventure to the dazzling poesy of a genetically transformed humanity. For this, he received numerous honors, including five Nebula awards, two Hugo Awards and 13 Locus awards.”
Meanwhile, in her memorial essay in Locus magazine, Bear’s wife Astrid Anderson Bear wrote:
“Elsewhere you have probably read of Greg’s writing, teaching and committee work; his generosity, kindness and welcoming attitudes; his love of puns, book collecting and movies; his wide-ranging intellect, conversation skills, and laugh. I am here to write about his heart,” she said.
“He made sure (his daughters Chloe and Alex) grew up with exposure to the classics: cartoons by Warner Bros. and Tex Avery, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Casablanca, Mad Magazine and Moby-Dick.”
We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to Astrid, who graciously and eloquently spoke during the Libertarian Futurist Society’s 2020 Prometheus Awards ceremony, to accept the Prometheus Hall of Fame award for Best Classic Fiction in memory of her father’s story “Sam Hall.”)
A WIDE-RANGING, IMPACTFUL CAREER
During his career, Bear’s books won many international prizes, were translated into more than twenty-two languages, and sold millions of copies worldwide.
According to Wikipedia, Bear covered themes of galactic conflict (the Forge of God books), parallel universes (The Way series, including Eon, Eternity and the prequel Legacy), consciousness and cultural practices (Queen of Angels) and accelerated evolution (Blood Music, Darwin’s Radio and Darwin’s Children.)
His most recent work was the 2021 novel The Unfinished Land.
In addition to his fiction writing, Bear served as president and vice-president of the Science Fiction Writers of America and was an original founding member of the San Diego Comic-Con.
Bear also served as a consultant for NASA, the U.S. Army, the State Department, the International Food Protection Association, and Homeland Security on matters ranging from privatizing space (a goal not only consistent with but central to libertarian futurism) to food safety, the frontiers of microbiology and genetics, and biological security.
IF YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE:
* Prometheus winners: For the full list of Prometheus winners, finalists and nominees – for the annual Best Novel and Best Classic Fiction (Hall of Fame) categories and occasional Special Awards – visit the enhanced Prometheus Awards page on the LFS website, which now includes convenient links to the full set of published appreciation-reviews of past winners.
* Read “The Libertarian History of Science Fiction,” an essay in the international magazine Quillette that favorably highlights the Prometheus Awards, the Libertarian Futurist Society and the significant element of libertarian sf/fantasy in the evolution of the modern genre.
* Watch videos of the 2022 Prometheus ceremony with Wil McCarthy, and past Prometheus Awards ceremonies, Libertarian Futurist Society panel discussions with noted sf authors and leading libertarian writers, and other LFS programs on the Prometheus Blog’s Video page.
* Join us! To help sustain the Prometheus Awards, join the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS), a non-profit all-volunteer association of freedom-loving sf/fantasy fans.
Libertarian futurists believe that culture matters! We understand that the arts and literature can be vital, and in some ways even more powerful than politics in the long run, by sparking innovation, better ideas, positive social change, and mutual respect for each other’s rights and differences.
Through recognizing the literature of liberty and the many different but complementary visions of a free future via the Prometheus Awards, the LFS hopes to help spread better visions of the future that help humanity overcome tyranny, slavery and war and achieve universal liberty and human rights and a better world (perhaps eventually, worlds) for all.