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Darwin's Children [Paperback]

Greg Bear
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 July 2011

Evolution is no longer just a theory – and nature is more of a bitch goddess than a kindly mother – in this tense science thriller from the author of the Nebula Award-winning Darwin’s Radio

Stella Nova is one of the ‘virus children’, a generation of genetically enhanced babies born a dozen years before to mothers infected with the SHEVA virus.

In fact, the children represent the next great evolutionary leap and a new species of human, Homo sapiens novus, but this is officially denied. They’re gentle, charming and persuasive, possessed of remarkable traits. Nevertheless, they are locked up in special schools, quarantined from society, feared and reviled.

‘Survival of the fittest’ takes on a new dimension as the children reach puberty. Stella is one of the first to find herself attracted to another ‘virus child’, but the authorities are watching and waiting for the opportunity to strike the next blow in their escalating war to preserve ‘humankind’ at any cost.

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Darwin's Children + Darwin's Radio + Blood Music (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; New Ed edition (4 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007132387
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007132386
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 17.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 406,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘A gripping evolutionary thriller that combines cutting-edge science with a compelling storyline. It's a novel that stretches the envelope of known science – which is exactly what science fiction should do’ P.D. Smith Guardian

'Bear's ability to tell a good story is surpassed only by his enthusasiam for the advancing edge of molecular biology … he might just be anticipating the next giant leap in our understanding of evolution and ourselves' Nature

‘GREG BEAR develops his characters extremely well, and there is plenty of action, too, in Darwin's Children … Bear is very good at blending hard science, politics and fiction, and this is one of his strongest novels yet. Convincing, and at times depressing, it tackles the difficult question of whether a government gripped by prejudice and fear can be prevented from wiping out its perceived enemies’ New Scientist

About the Author

Greg Bear was born in 1951 and published his first short story sixteen years later. His first novel was published in 1979, and his most famous novels, Blood Music and Eon, emerged during the eighties and have now become established classics.

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Morning lay dark and quiet around the house. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Evolutionary stresses 6 Dec 2003
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME
Writing a trilogy presents writer and reader alike with a dilemma. The writer must try to make each book, especially the middle book, stand alone. Yet he must also carry the underlying narrative through the story and lead to the final volume. Readers, particularly new ones, must take the risk that the second volume is worth the investment in time and money. Bear marginally succeeds in making this book stand on its own merits by giving us sufficient background threads as the story progresses. Thankfully, he doesn't use tedious flashbacks to achieve this end. Reprises are helpful to the new reader, but can be hopelessly boring to someone who's read a first volume. This compelling speculation on how evolution might work carries over from the previous volume, Darwin's Radio. It isn't necessary to have read the first volume, but it simplifies the understanding of the characters.
In this sequel, the life of the new generation of SHEVA "virus children" is portrayed. The children discover what it means to be "different" in American society. They learn how vicious a reaction to the different can become. The SHEVA children are shunted out of sight in camps the Nazis would have envied. Among these children growing up in such an environment is Stella Nova, offspring of two of the key figures in the earlier book. Like the other children, she remains a fugitive, even when living at home. Children as outcasts is one of the greatest forms of tragedy, and Bear is adept at the portrayal.
Bear weaves the feelings of both child and parent with sensitive skill. Isolation of the SHEVA children, as it's done with other children in similar situations, results in a new identity.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars X-men grown-up 5 Oct 2004
"Darwin's Children" is a provocatively titled novel, dripping with menace and postulates the "what if?" scenario of a fictional leap in human evolution.
As serious scientific fiction, it is very well written. The prose flows well, the dialogue believable, the characters interesting and all representing a side in the debate of the ethics and emotions of the above scenario. All with a prevading sense of menace.
The fiction is based on generally established science and the book very helpfully provides a glossary for readers who do not have a science background. Though readers with degrees in relevant areas may today spot discredited ideas, it doesn't ruin the story which is about society within and without a new species of human. Uncomfortably, but bravely, the novel revolves around an inverted eugenic-panicked America. Or, put in a historical context, it is as if the American government acted like Nazis but imprisons a master race instead of embracing it. A scary, difficult scenario.
Fans of "The X-files" and "The X-men" would enjoy this novel as an extension of their favourite scenario. Indeed, "X-men 2" movie is an action-packed slant on this tale. Readers of Stephen King's "Firestarter" will see overtones of one of the main characters - a young girl with special abilities. Bear approaches the topic from his own angle and doesn't waste a word.
The novel is however relatively short, and there are many areas where it could be expanded. In other words, a sequel is possible given the wealth of material present. The novel however, doesn't go anywhere near Apocalypse in spite of the blurb.
Overall, a good read basing itself on good science.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking 19 Oct 2004
By MrShev
This is a very good book. The science is good enough to be believable - nothing is too exagerated and the reactions to the 'children' are all too credible. I read Darwin's Radio, enjoyed it, but found this to be a much stronger book in which the characters are fleshed out in a much fuller way. I look forward to reading more of Greg Bear's work.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More human than DARWIN'S RADIO 26 April 2003
First, I do urge you to read DARWIN'S RADIO first, although I feel this is the better novel of the two. However, it is necessary to know the background of the earlier book to thoroughly enjoy the second.
One difficulty I did have with both books is the multitude of characters. So many are introduced and so few really have any importance to the story. This however, is a minor flaw.
While there is a lot of biological background explored in this book, it's easier to take and intrudes less into the plot than it did in the first. More emphasis is given to the human characters, especially the daughter who naturally is a focal point of interest.
The mother becomes more fleshed out also. Her "epiphany" adds interest. The first book stressed her atheism, and therefore, her experience is very interesting, and does have its effect on the character and, in turn, her effect on the plotline. The author deals with this subject in an objective manner so that the reader can accept it as something that does happen to some people or reject it as overactive imagination.
All in all, the two books together comprise one of the better science fiction works.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Homo Superior for the 21st Century 24 Sep 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The virus children of Bear's `Darwin's Radio' are growing up in a terrified world. The children are being rounded up and kept in special schools where they are studied, but not allowed to learn anything which might help them escape.
Bear sequels in the past have not lived up to the quality of the first instalment and sadly, this is the case here. Despite it being a good solid novel and streets ahead of most of the competition it lacks the tightness and pace of the original. It also includes a rather unnecessary exegesis on the part of Kaye who experiences an encounter with what appears to be God. Unfortunately this never really dovetails into the structure at all and lacks relevance.
However it is an exciting examination of Neo-Darwinism and Bear provides an excellent afterword which includes further recommended reading on the subject.
Taking the two books as a whole the work can be seen as a Twenty First Century update on Van Vogt's `Slan' with echoes of `The Midwich Cuckoos'. The nature of Bear's homo superior is very interesting. They communicate on various levels; by scent, colour flashing of the marks on their faces and in a strange two-levelled speech by which more than one meaning or message can be conveyed at once. They form bonded `families' which they call demes and seem to have lost any desire for competitive behaviour, finding co-operation to be a better genetic survival strategy.
In context `DC' is a post-aids retrovirus-aware work of paranoia, set in a declining USA. Sadly, Bear gives us only brief glimpses of how the virus children are treated elsewhere in the world. An Indian taxi-driver, for instance, at one point talks quite happily of his `Shivite' grand-daughter and of how proud the family are of her.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars 2nd reading, much enjoyed
I read this book in my teens and vaguely remembered the general plot and have enjoyed rediscovering it now. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Eliza
3.0 out of 5 stars A story of three parts
I was never certain if I was going to attempt to read this book after having read Darwin's Radio, however I decided to take the plunge. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Halo Reader
3.0 out of 5 stars not as good as the prequel
good to know what the conclusion to the story is but in general it is not as good as the prequel.
Published on 9 Jun 2010 by Lino Bacallaocorrales
4.0 out of 5 stars The shape of things to come?
As with many of Gregg Bear's books this has strong scientific thread, but don't let that put you off too much - as with "Darwin's Radio" (the first book in the series) there is a... Read more
Published on 12 Dec 2009 by D. A. Bailes
3.0 out of 5 stars average
An absolutely average book with lots of poor supporting characters and weak plot, lacking new ideas (compared to Darwin's Radio) or compelling moves. Read more
Published on 22 Oct 2009 by Julia Lipina
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but could've been so much more.
This is a good solid book that follows on well from Darwins Radio. It gets bogged down in scientific terms in places, as if Bear is showing us what he knows rather than progressing... Read more
Published on 21 Sep 2006 by Spider Monkey
5.0 out of 5 stars wow - mind blowing / opinion changing
This is fab yarn & well told. I love the characters & the intricacies of the plot. Bear as usual makes you believe in the people & you get carried away hoping for a happy ending. Read more
Published on 11 May 2004 by Mad Saint Uden
1.0 out of 5 stars Lost
I read and enjoyed Darwin's Radio and gave it a good review. Before reading Darwin's Children I read the reviews on Amazon and generally found them discouraging. Read more
Published on 23 Jan 2004 by Thomas Atkins
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