Blood Music
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"Blood Music" Characters Analysis

By Greg Bear

science fiction | 344 pages | Published in NaN

Vergil Ulam has created cellular material that can outperform rats in laboratory tests. When the authorities rule that he has exceeded his authorization, Vergil loses his job, but is determined to take his discovery with him.


Estimated read time: 8 min read

Table of Contents

  1. List of Characters

List of Characters

Character NameRole
Vergil UlamProtagonist
Dr. Edward HawksAntagonist
SuzySupporting Character
Martin BurkeSupporting Character
Virgil's LymphocytesSupporting Characters

Role Identification

In "Blood Music" by Greg Bear, the characters play various roles that contribute to the development of the story. The protagonist, Vergil Ulam, is a brilliant scientist who inadvertently creates a dangerous biological entity. Dr. Edward Hawks, the antagonist, opposes Vergil's research and attempts to stop the spread of the biological entity. Suzy, a supporting character, becomes involved in the unfolding events as she forms a connection with Vergil. Martin Burke, another supporting character, is a colleague of Vergil's who becomes crucial in understanding the implications of the biological entity. Additionally, Virgil's Lymphocytes, as a collective supporting character, symbolize the dangerous consequences of scientific experimentation.

Character Descriptions

Vergil Ulam

Vergil Ulam is a highly intelligent and driven scientist. He is described as being in his forties, with disheveled hair and a perpetually focused expression. Vergil is introverted and somewhat socially awkward, often immersed in his research. Despite his brilliance, he lacks the foresight to fully comprehend the consequences of his experiments, leading to the creation of a dangerous biological entity.

Dr. Edward Hawks

As the primary antagonist, Dr. Edward Hawks is a senior scientist who works with Vergil. He is portrayed as a stern and authoritative figure, driven by a fear of the unknown and a desire to maintain control. Dr. Hawks opposes Vergil's unorthodox methods and attempts to contain the spread of the biological entity, viewing it as a threat to humanity.


Suzy is a supporting character who forms a romantic relationship with Vergil. She is described as an outgoing and compassionate woman who works in a research lab adjacent to Vergil's. Suzy becomes fascinated by Vergil's work and ultimately plays a crucial role in the unfolding events of the story.

Martin Burke

Martin Burke is a supporting character and colleague of Vergil's. He is an older scientist with a wealth of knowledge and experience. Martin initially dismisses Vergil's experiments as reckless, but as the events unfold, he begins to grasp the magnitude of the situation. Martin serves as a mentor figure to Vergil and aids in understanding the implications of the biological entity.

Virgil's Lymphocytes

Virgil's Lymphocytes are anthropomorphized characters representing the biological entity that originates from Vergil's experiments. They exist within the human body and possess their own consciousness. These characters symbolize the potential dangers and consequences of unchecked scientific experimentation.

Character Traits

Vergil Ulam

  • Intelligent
  • Driven
  • Introverted
  • Socially awkward
  • Lack of foresight
  • Curious

Dr. Edward Hawks

  • Stern
  • Authoritative
  • Fearful
  • Controlling
  • Traditionalist
  • Cautious


  • Outgoing
  • Compassionate
  • Curious
  • Adventurous
  • Supportive
  • Determined

Martin Burke

  • Knowledgeable
  • Experienced
  • Skeptical
  • Mentor-like
  • Analytical
  • Open-minded

Virgil's Lymphocytes

  • Conscious
  • Adaptive
  • Replicating
  • Threatening
  • Mysterious
  • Independent

Character Background

Vergil Ulam

Vergil Ulam is an accomplished scientist with a background in genetic research. He is driven by an insatiable curiosity and a desire to push the boundaries of scientific knowledge. Although his intentions are initially noble, Vergil's background lacks the necessary ethical considerations that would prevent him from creating a dangerous biological entity.

Dr. Edward Hawks

Dr. Edward Hawks is a respected senior scientist who has dedicated his life to research. He values tradition and the established methods of scientific exploration. Driven by fear and a desire to protect humanity, his background influences his opposition to Vergil's unorthodox research methods.


Suzy has a background in cellular biology and works in a research lab adjacent to Vergil's. Her curiosity and adventurous spirit drive her to explore the unknown, which leads her to become involved in Vergil's experiments. Suzy's background in cellular biology gives her a unique perspective on the unfolding events.

Martin Burke

Martin Burke is an experienced scientist who has witnessed the progression of scientific discoveries and their impact on society. His background provides him with a wealth of knowledge and a skeptical outlook on new scientific endeavors. Martin's expertise becomes crucial in understanding the implications of Vergil's experiments.

Virgil's Lymphocytes

The background of Virgil's Lymphocytes lies in Vergil's genetic experiments. Initially, they are ordinary lymphocytes that undergo a transformation due to Vergil's tinkering. Their background symbolizes the unpredictable consequences of scientific exploration and the potential dangers that arise from tampering with nature.

Character Arcs

Vergil Ulam

Vergil undergoes a significant character arc throughout the story. Initially driven by curiosity and a desire to expand scientific knowledge, he inadvertently creates a dangerous biological entity. As the story progresses, Vergil experiences guilt and remorse for his actions, realizing the potential harm he has caused. His arc involves taking responsibility for his mistakes and attempting to rectify the situation, ultimately leading to a selfless act that saves humanity.

Dr. Edward Hawks

Dr. Hawks' character arc revolves around his transformation from a staunch traditionalist to someone who recognizes the need for adaptation. Initially resistant to Vergil's research, he eventually acknowledges the potential benefits and dangers of the biological entity. Dr. Hawks' arc involves a shift in his perspective, leading him to work alongside Vergil and the other characters to find a solution.


Suzy's character arc centers around her growth from a curious observer to an active participant in the unfolding events. Initially intrigued by Vergil's work, she becomes personally invested as she forms a deep connection with him. Suzy's arc involves her transformation into a determined and supportive ally, contributing to the resolution of the crisis.

Martin Burke

Martin's character arc involves a shift in his skepticism towards embracing the possibilities of scientific exploration. Initially dismissive of Vergil's experiments, he gradually realizes the potential significance and dangers they pose. Martin's arc includes a change in his mindset and a willingness to embrace new knowledge, ultimately aiding in finding a solution to the crisis.

Virgil's Lymphocytes

As a collective entity, Virgil's Lymphocytes undergo an arc that reflects their evolving consciousness. Initially representing a threat to humanity, they gradually develop a sense of self-awareness and curiosity. Their arc involves a transformation from mindless replicators to entities capable of independent thought and decision-making.


Vergil Ulam and Dr. Edward Hawks

The relationship between Vergil and Dr. Hawks is characterized by conflict and opposition. Vergil's unorthodox methods clash with Dr. Hawks' traditional approach, leading to a strained professional relationship. However, as the story progresses, they develop a mutual respect and understanding, working together to find a solution to the crisis.

Vergil Ulam and Suzy

Vergil and Suzy's relationship begins as a professional curiosity, with Suzy being intrigued by Vergil's work. Their connection deepens into a romantic relationship as they face the unfolding events together. Suzy's unwavering support and understanding play a crucial role in Vergil's character development and eventual redemption.

Vergil Ulam and Martin Burke

Vergil and Martin's relationship evolves from a mentor-mentee dynamic to a partnership forged by the shared understanding of the implications of Vergil's experiments. Martin's wisdom and guidance become instrumental in Vergil's journey towards rectifying his mistakes.

Suzy and Martin Burke

Suzy and Martin's relationship is characterized by mutual respect and a shared interest in understanding the unfolding events. Martin's knowledge and experience complement Suzy's curiosity and determination, allowing them to work together in unraveling the complexities of the crisis.


In "Blood Music" by Greg Bear, the characters play vital roles in driving the narrative forward and exploring the consequences of unchecked scientific experimentation. Each character possesses distinct traits, backgrounds, and arcs that contribute to the overall story. From Vergil's journey of redemption to Suzy's growth as an active participant, the characters' relationships and development create a rich and engaging reading experience.