Greg Bear has been writing hard sci-fi novels in recent years where the plot revolves around recent biotech discoveries. “Darwin’s Radio” received high acclaim even in Nature Magazine for the depth of knowledge of genetics, endogenous retroviruses, and human evolution that Bear displayed in the fictional work. In my opinion “Vitals” is of the same caliber. This biotech thriller revolves around the concept that intelligent bacterial networks have been mankind’s unseen, unknown overlords since time immemorial. In fact I, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, have written on UD about the notion that humanity’s purpose is to discover habitable earth-like planets and design vehicles that can deliver single-celled life to them. In other words we are the means by which bacteria can survive the inevitable turning of our planet into a cinder when the sun becomes a red giant a few billion years down the road. Bacteria have ostensibly been around for a few billion years and if they don’t find a way to get to another planet then they are about halfway to total extinction right now. Even as we speak the unmanned spacecraft Voyager One has left the solar system for interstellar destinations unknown. There are undoubtedly bacterial passengers aboard it but since it wasn’t designed to carry them it’s not likely they’ve survived up until now. Food for thought.