It could be argued that, if you are the recipient of five Nebula Awards, and two Hugos, and have been nominated for, or won, SF awards a staggering eighty-seven times, that all of your works are essential, but as that argument would rather undercut the subject of this post, we’re going to ignore it like a politician with an inconvenient fact.
So. You want to know where to start with Greg Bear, huh? Very wise. Well, as ever, we recommend starting with the SF Masterworks – in this instance, the seminal Big Dumb Object novel, Eon, or the extraordinary bio-thriller Blood Music.
And, since once you’re finished them, you’ll definitely want more, we heartily endorse moving on through the Eon sequence with Gateway Essentials Eternity and Legacy, and then branching out into future thriller Queen of Angels.
You should also keep an eye out for the extraordinary The Forge of God, which may or may not (but probably will) be appearing before long as an SF Masterwork.