Blood Music is a SF that starts off fairly simple – a self-absorbed scientist injects himself with genetically engineered cells, which over the course of the book, develop intelligence and collective consciousness. As the story proceeds, it gets not only horrific – where an entire continent, including almost all of its living beings, is transformed into all encompassing, hyper-intelligent protoplasmic goo, capable of even diffusing nuclear bombs hurled at it, but also complicated, as the cells, briefly interact with the vector, the human vehicle who eventually dissolves and integrates into the goo, becoming part of the collective consciousness himself. The end is ambiguous (at least to me) – not satisfied or being incompatible with the macro world, the cells enter quantum dimensions (I am not sure if I got this right) go into space-time continuum (fuzzy about this too), and collapse the physical rules of the world as we know them. Is this the end of the world? If so, where do the survivors go? Inside themselves into that quantum space? Or to outer space? Or are they the same?
The book raised in me the basic question of what really IS consciousness. Is it a chemical phenomenon distinct from the physical world, or is it part of it? As human beings, we are an ensemble of various types of cells, but the concept of “I” transcends the components to signify something else. Or is thought itself merely a collection of individual chemical reactions that happen in each of the billions of tiny components that somehow come together as a single entity? Does the “Me” exist after the components are worm food? Or not?
A different kind of sci-fi that builds up slowly into a live wire, leaving you high and dry in the end with a feeling of what-the-heck-just-happened? I suppose that in itself is a mark of success.