Writer influenced the science fiction world

Greg Bear portrait
Science fiction author Greg Bear has written more than 50 books. (GeekWire photo)

Greg Bear, a Seattle-based science fiction writer who played a leading role in how global audiences saw the future end frontiers, died Saturday of complications from heart surgery.

Astrid Bear, the 71-year-old writer’s wife, said he died peacefully at a hospital near Seattle. “He wasn’t alone,” she wrote in a message to friends.

Born in San Diego, Greg Bear published his first short story in 1967 and began writing full-time in 1975. He has written more than 50 books – including several award-winning series, a Star Trek novel and a Star Wars novel, and a trilogy set in the Halo video game universe. His last novel, The Unfinished Land, was published last year.

Bear’s influence on the science fiction community extended well beyond the written pages: he was a co-founder of San Diego’s Comic-Con International and served for two years as president of Science Fiction Writers of America, now known as Science Fiction- and Fantasy Authors Association. Bear has been a guest on podcasts and talk shows, including The Daily Show, and once appeared as himself in the comic book Funky Winkerbean.

Bear, who moved to the Seattle area in 1987, also had an impact on his adopted homeland. He was part of the team that created and organized the Washington State Centennial Time Capsule. And GeekWire contributor Frank Catalano recalls introducing Bear to the late software billionaire Paul Allen — a contact who helped found the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, now part of the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle is.

The accolades pouring in from friends and admirers underscored the personal and public contributions Bear has made over the decades. “Greg the man was a friend” Science fiction icon Harry Turtledove tweeted. “Greg the writer was quite remarkable.”

Bear was best known as a writer of “hard” science fiction – stories based on the unlikely plausibility of science and technology. For example, in Strength of Stones, a novel first published in 1982, Bear envisioned a world in which cities ruled by artificial intelligence rise up against their human creators. And in his “War Dogs” trilogy, Bear gave a starring role to private space companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

“I have pushed private ventures forward and named the Martian colonists Muskies in homage to Elon’s dreams if not reality,” Bear Catalano said in a 2017 GeekWire interview.

During that interview, Bear said he was content with his sci-fi career.

“I don’t think any writer is ever satisfied with the attention we get, but I have very few complaints,” he said. “My books were read by the people I read when I was a teenager and it just blew my socks off when I found that out.”

Bear said there are still many opportunities to turn his stories into new adaptations for a new generation. For example, his first published short story, Destroyers, in 1967, was about people registering to kill what they hated. By the end of the story, readers realize that the narrator is being hunted by someone who has registered to destroy Destroyers.

“That was my 16-year-old vision of the future,” he told Catalano. “And I think it’s a good HBO pitch today.”

Greg Bear is survived by his wife, Astrid Anderson Bear, and their two children, Chloe and Alexandra.

This report is based on information from Greg Bear’s online biography.


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