Darwin's Children Hardcover – 2 Jun 2003
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'Bear plays to his strength – cutting-edge scientific speculation – in this riveting SF thriller about possible evolutionary apocalypse.' Publisher's Weekly
'A stunning read' Roz Kaveney, Amazon.co.uk
'Darwin's Radio is a tense technothriller in the Michael Crichton vein… evolutionary change, we secretly believe, isn't something that happens to us… The world collapses in panic. Gurus of scientific orthodoxy, paralysed by over-fast change, turn a blind eye to the shocking evidence. There are riots, flights to the hills, death cults, martial law, and superstitious fear… Intelligent science fiction on a colossal scale.' New Scientist
'Darwin's Radio delves into crucial questions about where we humans came from and where we're going. Along the way, the book shows how much and how little we've changed from our ancestors… Bear tells a good, character-driven story.' USA Today
'All the best thrillers contain the solution to a mystery, and the mystery in this intellectually sparkling scientific thriller is more crucial and stranger than most.' Amazon.com
From the Inside Flap
Greg Bear's Nebula Award-winning novel, "Darwin's Radio, painted a chilling portrait of humankind on the threshold of a radical leap in evolution--one that would alter our species forever. Now Bear continues his provocative tale of the human race confronted by an uncertain future, where "survival of the fittest" takes on astonishing and controversial new dimensions.
Eleven years have passed since SHEVA, an ancient retrovirus, was discovered in human DNA--a retrovirus that caused mutations in the human genome and heralded the arrival of a new wave of genetically enhanced humans. Now these changed children have reached adolescence . . . and face a world that is outraged about their very existence. For these special youths, possessed of remarkable, advanced traits that mark a major turning point in human development, are also ticking time bombs harboring hosts of viruses that could exterminate the "old" human race.
Fear and hatred of the virus children have made them a persecuted underclass, quarantined by the government in special "schools," targeted by federally sanctioned bounty hunters, and demonized by hysterical segments of the population. But pockets of resistance have sprung up among those opposed to treating the children like dangerous diseases--and who fear the worst if the government's draconian measures are carried to their extreme.
Scientists Kaye Lang and Mitch Rafelson are part of this small but determined minority. Once at the forefront of the discovery and study of the SHEVA outbreak, they now live as virtual exiles in the Virginia suburbs with their daughter, Stella--a bright, inquisitive virus child who is quickly maturing, straining tobreak free of the protective world her parents have built around her, and eager to seek out others of her kind.
But for all their precautions, Kaye, Mitch, and Stella have not slipped below the government's radar. The agencies fanatically devoted to segregating and controlling the new-breed children monitor their every move--watching and waiting for the opportunity to strike the next blow in their escalating war to preserve "humankind" at any cost.
"From the Hardcover edition. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
He takes the idea that nature has always been experimenting with new life forms - the human body being no exception (even cancer is a reserve of maverick cells available for nature to play with) - and takes it to its logical conclusion, something that few writers are brave enough to do.
As such, the reader is in a position to take that journey with Greg Bear. Though you may not agree with where he takes it, the narrative is facinating - and is based on not just good science, but a good understanding of human nature, motivations and the role of institutions, power, and the dynamics of culture and society.
I also like the way he gives due credence to common sense and felt experience (in the sense that we all know certain things happen, even if they can't be rigorously proved).
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was gripped by this as I was by its precursor - marvellous stuff.Published 16 months ago by Mr. T. Marks
I read this book in my teens and vaguely remembered the general plot and have enjoyed rediscovering it now. Read morePublished on 25 April 2013 by Eliza
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 morePublished on 20 Jan. 2013 by Halo Reader
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
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 morePublished on 12 Dec. 2009 by D. A. B.
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 morePublished on 22 Oct. 2009 by Julia Lipina
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... Read morePublished on 24 Sept. 2008 by Amazon Customer
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 morePublished on 21 Sept. 2006 by Spider Monkey