Vergil Ulam is a precocious gene hacker who creates cells that can think: biologic. When his extra-curricular experiments get him fired from his job at Genetron Corporation, he injects the cells (dubbed "noocytes") in order to smuggle them out. Soon his life, and this super-imaginative story, begin to go through MAJOR changes. The book mutates from a hard SF beginning to a wild conclusion of pure fantasy. A lot of speculative fun is had along the way. This one's definitely more ribofunk than cyberpunk.
A shorter version of "Blood Music" appeared in Bear's "Tangents" (1984) collection. The novella version won him the 1984 Hugo Award.
Arbor House, 1985
Here is the TEXT POPUP for Blood Music:
Each hour, a myriad of trillions of little live things -- microbes, bacteria, the peasants of nature -- are born and die, not counting for much except in the bulk of their numbers and the accumulation of their tiny lives. They do not perceive deeply, nor do they suffer. A hundred trillion, dying, would not begin to have the same importance as a single human death
They would continue learning, adding new segments to the revised portions of their DNA. And when, in the normal course of cell growth, the new DNA was transcribed to RNA, and the RNA served as a template for production of the amino acids, and the amino acids were converted to proteins...
The proteins would be more than just units of cell structure; other cells would be able to read them. Or RNA itself would be extruded to be absorbed and read by other cells. Or -- and this third option had presented itself after Vergil inserted fragments of bacterial DNA into the mammalian chromosomes -- segments of DNA itself could be removed and passed along.
Every time he thought of it, his head whirled with possibilities, thousands of ways for the cells to communicate with each other and develop their intellects.
He had never done so well. She had murmured, before sleep, that chemists did it in their tubes and doctors did it with patience, but only a techie would do it in geometric progression.