Read Darwin's Radio by Greg Bear Online


A 2000 HUGO AWARD NOMINEEAncient diseases encoded in the DNA of humans wait like sleeping dragons to wake and infect again--or so molecular biologist Kaye Lang believes. And now it looks as if her controversial theory is in fact chilling reality. For Christopher Dicken, a "virus hunter" at the Epidemic Intelligence Service, has pursued an elusive flu-like disease that striA 2000 HUGO AWARD NOMINEEAncient diseases encoded in the DNA of humans wait like sleeping dragons to wake and infect again--or so molecular biologist Kaye Lang believes. And now it looks as if her controversial theory is in fact chilling reality. For Christopher Dicken, a "virus hunter" at the Epidemic Intelligence Service, has pursued an elusive flu-like disease that strikes down expectant mothers and their offspring. Then a major discovery high in the Alps --the preserved bodies of a prehistoric family--reveals a shocking link: something that has slept in our genes for millions of years is waking up. Now, as the outbreak of this terrifying disease threatens to become a deadly epidemic, Dicken and Lang must race against time to assemble the pieces of a puzzle only they are equipped to solve--an evolutionary puzzle that will determine the future of the human race . . . if a future exists at all....

Title : Darwin's Radio
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780345435248
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 538 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Darwin's Radio Reviews

  • Robert
    2019-01-29 09:12

    So I keep on reading Bear novels, feeling disappointed, waiting a while, then rinse and repeat.This time I've clarified why I am so ambivalent about this guy: he has fascinating ideas then writes dull books about them. The premise here is an extreme example. Our "junk" DNA turns out to be a collection of emergency rapid-response evolutionary accelerators - and the emergency response has just been triggered. Cue mysterious pregnancies, peculiar facial mutations and a really big scientific mystery that turns very political very fast. The detail is very convincing - Bear did a heap of research.But here's the problem: almost every event of a dramatic nature happens off-stage and the middle part of the book, between the initial scientific drama and the political nightmare at the end bogs down severely. (view spoiler)[Then, to add insult to injury, the book closes before the new generation of evolved humans reaches their teens, so the social consequences are not fully explored (but there is a sequel). It looks like things are heading into X-Men territory, but of course more seriously treated, or, more precisely, in the vein of Nancy Kress's Sleepless books. (hide spoiler)]There is a theme of the disaster that occurs when science gets forced into the political arena; you only have to look at the climate change debate to know how that goes. It is very realistically handled but develops too slowly. I am reminded of Kim Stanley Robinson. Several of his works deal with science and internal and external politics and how real science is done and I can't help thinking a more interesting novel would have resulted if he had started with the same material.I acquired Darwin's Children without realising that it was a sequel and then picked up this book subsequently. I will probably read Darwin's Children at some point, since it is lying around and because it really ought to cut to the chase, with the background already painted in with excessive attention to detail but I shall try to resist the urge to buy any more Bear novels regardless of how interesting the premise sounds...

  • Maria
    2019-02-12 13:04

    Cu toate că am rătăcit o vreme printre termenii din genetică, paleontologie și virusologie, premisa cărții a fost chiar fascinantă: (view spoiler)[ dacă evoluția umană nu este un proces lent de tip darwinist și ADN-ul nostru conține cheia unor salturi evolutive fulgerătoare?(hide spoiler)]Foarte bine scrisă și jonglând cu eleganță între știință și ficțiune, cartea lui Greag Bear este o combinație reușită de hard science-fiction, thriller și analiză psihologică a modalității în care societatea răspunde la noutate, la apariția unei specii noi. M-a înspăimântat reacția oamenilor la lucrurile pe care nu le pot controla, felul în care teama învinge rațiunea, instinctele preiau controlul iar dorința de supraviețuire eclipsează orice urmă de compasiune sau bun simț.

  • Bradley
    2019-02-03 12:47

    The first time I read this I felt horrified and dazed for weeks. I still consider this a masterpiece of horror/sci-fi. The characters are somewhat memorable, but more memorable is their pain; indeed, the pain of the whole world was felt in the back of my mouth, preparing it rise up from my stomach, up the pipe, out the maw, to hang onto my lip and smack me thrice on my face, wink, and then jump off to slither under the door-jam and horrify someone else.Don't get me wrong, this is a pure sci-fi novel, but no sci-fi affects me as much as the types that are just as facile in other genres. This one does and gleefully so. I may not know that much about biology, or enough to tear Bear apart, but I followed his arguments and treatment and was amazed at the way he pulled a rabbit out of the junk DNA.I've been a fan of Greg Bear's work for many years, and I thought I had really loved works like Eon and Legacy, and then I was amazed by Queen of Angels and then I was jumping up and down with Moving Mars. His short story collection of Tangents still makes me sit in awe. Still, all of these books paled in comparison with Darwin's Radio.I have to say one thing: I cried uncontrollable tears at no less than three times during this novel. I cannot give higher praise.

  • kenzimone
    2019-02-06 05:43

    I did not enjoy this book in the slightest. I probably should have seen it coming, what with the very first sentence of the very first chapter likening the color of the sky backdrop of the alps to 'a dog's pale crazy eye'. Even when, on the very next page, Bear described a frozen waterfall as 'a gnome's upside-down castle' I thought oh, this won't be so bad.I was wrong. Dead wrong.First, let's talk about geek talk. I'm a big fan of Michael Crichton, and as such I expect a book's geek talk to be nicely interwoven into the regular dialog and not be too over the top for me, as a non-scientist, to handle. An author needs to be very talented to accomplish this, and he must also be able to understand the importance of dumbing it down a notch (but not too much!) and definitely not going on for pages upon pages.Which is what Bear does. He just won't stop. I ended up skimming the sections where the geek talk occurred because it was simply that boring.It should also be pointed out that Bear actually namedrops Michael Crichton in the middle of the book. Only, instead of handling it with class Crichton's cast as a celebrity spokesperson for the Evil Corporation who wants to kill babies. Nice.Then there's the offensive bits.First, we're informed that if you study Science you too can be rid of your silly belief in God! A few premed courses will leave you happily content and 'dubious of' your 'religious upbringing' (page 390). Lovely.Following that, there's a scene where someone compares being forced to sign up for a national database to the persecution of the Jews during WWII. It came off as really tasteless, and I definitely reacted to it, but I figured that maybe it was just a case of bad wording?Then came this: "They stared at me in the market," Kaye said. "I felt like a leper. Worse, like a nigger." (page 516)WHAT IN THE WORLD?! With the deliberate emphasis and everything! My face went all D: because HOLY HELL you did not just state that being black is worse than having a chronic disease which can cause permanent damage to your face and make your limbs turn numb and/or diseased!Then comes the blow to my taste as a reader, because the last fifty pages of the book is all about Kaye and her mutant baby pregnancy and the birth of said mutant child, who they name Stella Nova because Stella and Nova both mean ~star~.Oh, and yeah, the baby can speak from birth, is telepathic, is the most beautiful thing ever and has pretty spots of colors on her cheeks and in her eyes that can change color like so: Stella Nova sent waves of fawn and gold over her cheeks... (page 505)Also, she grows and develops with super human speed. I felt like I was reading Twilight.I could mention the blandness of the stereotypical main female character (who's trapped in a man's world and cries a lot) and the boring main male lead, but I figure that's a given.

  • Stephen
    2019-02-06 11:12

    3.5 stars. Excellent concept and great science highlight this very good "hard" SF story. Winner: Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction NovelNominee: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction NovelNominee: Locus Award for Best Science Fiction NovelNominee: John W. Campbell Award for Best Science Fiction Novel

  • Amber
    2019-01-19 09:44

    An interesting look at what might possibly be the next stage of evolution. Greg Bear's Hugo nominee is a wonderful mix of scientific and political thriller as well as a study of human reactions and relationships. Beautifully laid out and written in an interesting manner.After I finished this book I sat back and thought, my god, I know all about viruses and diseases and retroviruses now. Greg Bear does not dumb down the science to make sure his audience gets it, instead he explains everything several times in innovative ways to make sure the reader comprehends the importance of his storyline. The science in this book is complex and believable, compelling and worthy. While I am generally a physics and chemistry lover, the biology and molecular sciences portrayed in Darwin's Radio excited me. These aren't the same biology principles I was bored with in high school, these are full out edges of possibility, dangerous and life-changing sciences.The principle behind this book is that subspeciation and thus, evolution, is actually a function of biologically engineered retroviruses- retroviruses with networks to tell when a mutation is working and when one is failing. While it is generally speculative science, it is very grounded in modern principles which are explained throughout the novel as well as in a primer at the end.Well worth a read! This scifi book breaks the boundaries of simple outbreak thriller into the bounds of political intrigue and romance.(I started rereading this, but couldn't bring myself to finish it for some reason. There is an obvious change in narrative about 4/5th of the way through the book that really jarred me, where they start a road trip and it switches from science-driven narrative to meandering emotion-based drama. I just wasn't in the mood for that, but I still think overall this book is a winner.)

  • Peter
    2019-01-29 04:58

    An excellent idea sadly marred by poor writing, the impression is that Greg Bear came up with a great idea for a novel, researched it and then decided to tell everyone look at what I have learned. The main problem is the there is a distinct clumpiness to the story a few pages of story followed by look at what I learned today, a rushed ending just as the book begins to take shape.It borderlines on being turgid. If we look at Andy Weir's The Martian, which is undeniably a well written novel, it contains a excellent balance of science and storytelling that makes the book a pleasure to read in quiet an addictive way.this book became so leaden in the middle that I took time out and read Weird Things Customers Say In Book Shops by Jen Campell and Fifty Sheds of Grey By C. T. Grey for some light relief and begun reading How The French Won Waterloo (Or Think They Did) by Stephen Clarke.NO this book does not inspire me to read the sequel, Darwin's Children or any of his other work, in fact this was purchased in 1999 and now I think perhaps it should have been left on the shelf for another seventeen years.

  • Mina Villalobos
    2019-02-05 09:04

    The first 200 pages or so of this book are incredibly engaging and interesting. I wasn't put off by the science talk, though there was too much of it -someone who truly understood it would probably find a lot of holes in it, and someone who didn't get it beyond the basics didn't really need to read so extensively about it- but after the first half, the book starts taking a plunge south. I stopped caring about the characters at some point in the middle, the female lead turning into quite a trope by the the end, the ending was completely unsatisfying and left a bunch of story lines hanging, plot holes and rambling side stories that never saw any closure. It was like Bear got tired of writing the story and just wanted to finish it, so he glossed over a lot of the things he had so carefully set. The sad part is that the concept is great and the human side of the thriller is very compelling, but once you start noticing the vices in the story, it kind of goes downhill from there. Total clothes fetish, by the way. What it is with describing every piece of garment??

  • Nikki
    2019-02-09 12:59

    As warned by a friend, the ideas here are pretty fascinating -- the book might be fifteen years behind in terms of science, but there's nothing inherently ridiculous about the idea based on the scientific knowledge of the time -- but the actual narrative is pretty deadly boring. Some of the writing is just... why would you let that slip past, editor? Hard SF isn't just about the cool ideas: there has to be some element of execution there as well, or there's no point in writing it as a novel -- there'd be a non-fiction audience for speculation about the future too, undoubtedly.It's pretty unfortunate, since Bear did the work here in setting up the world, figuring out the details, making A lead to B without a gap in logic. Unfortunately, the prose is flat, most of the characters likewise, and isn't there a song with lyrics that go I don't care a lot? Because it's in my head right now.

  • Julia
    2019-02-10 07:55

    Maybe it's just because I'm an evolutionary biologist, but this book stretched my suspension of disbelief to the breaking point. When something unbelievable happens in a science-fiction book, the author can take one of two approaches: either quickly handwave it with technobabble and move on to focus on the consequences of the event, or foreground the explanation based on reasonable extrapolations of current science. The author tried to do the latter, but his "explanation" made all the sense of a handwave.I also found the author's attitudes toward women, particularly the bodily autonomy of women, to be troubling. What happens to the women in this story is a violation of their bodily autonomy: they become pregnant against their wishes. Being disgusted and horrified by this pregnancy is a perfectly normal and understandable reaction. However, by the end of the book, the women who are frightened and repulsed by their unwanted pregnancies and the offspring created of same are vilified, while those who embrace pregnancy and motherhood are celebrated. Not to mention that the children produced by these pregnancies, who are supposed to be yay and wonderful and the next step in human evolution, are just plain creepy.

  • Monica
    2019-02-17 04:44

    I really liked this book. The author obviously researched the subject matter thoroughly, and there was a good balance of science and engaging plot line. I found it to be an easy and fun read, and I will definitely be reading more books by this author in the future.

  • Lightreads
    2019-02-14 11:09

    A CDC disease chaser discovers a virus that seems to be asymptomatic in everyone but pregnant women, and mass graves in Georgia (the country) and a newly discovered family of forty thousand year old mummies suggest this isn’t the first outbreak. And our heroes -- that CDC disease hound, a successful biologist, and an anthropologist with questionable ethics -- begin to suspect it isn’t an outbreak at all.Okay, so it’s not actually a ‘read a textbook instead’ science fiction book. I mean, the science is pretty cool -- endogenous retroviruses as an evolutionary vector, which is a pretty awesome explanation for the whole “yes but how does it work?” problem of punctuated evolution. And the writing is effective and observant, if a bit clumsy sometimes. Ooh, and there are actual people in this book, with actual people emotions and actual people foibles and actual people joys.But -- you knew it was coming -- I really didn’t like it much. I think it’s that I hate hate hate people who are willfully wrong -- they’ve chosen a path, and okay yeah it’s becoming clear they’re wrong, but hell if they’ll do anything about it. And this book is full of them. I’m sort of torn, actually, because the descriptions of just what scientists and politicians would do faced with a disaster like this one are actually pretty accurate. It’s not a pretty picture, as well it shouldn’t be. But it’s exactly the sort of mess that drives me nuts on a personal level, and it all left a bad taste in my mouth.That, and there’s something really awry with the pacing here. And some weirdness on the boy-girl front I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I hear Bear’s short fiction is more exciting. Hope so.

  • Dan
    2019-02-06 12:56

    Darwin’s Radio is a pleasure for someone who loves hard science fiction, as I do. Here’s the premise: SHEVA, a retrovirus long-buried in our genes, suddenly awakens and begins to attack pregnant women, forcing them to miscarry after three months. But that’s just the beginning – after the miscarriage, these same women spontaneously become pregnant again, this time developing a fetus that’s not quite human. The federal government, led by the science establishment, after first denying the truth, then begins pressing parents to turn over their strange children to the government.This premise just blew my mind; it’s creative, believable and terrifying. The science was complex and I referred to the glossary, included at the back of the book, several times. As I progressed through the pages, I was reminded of Beggars in Spain, Nancy Kress’s wonderful story. Both novels explore the rapid evolution of humanity into another species, although Greg Bear, unlike Kress, makes humanity involuntary travelers on the journey. My major complaint is the slow pace. Too much time was spent on a romance between the two major characters. Even more frustrating was the endless politics between and among the scientific community and their patrons. Although Darwin’s Radio is science fiction and not a techno-thriller, more action – yes, a little violence, too – would have strengthened the brew. The bottom line: a slightly flawed but thought-provoking tale.

  • Kathy Bell
    2019-02-13 08:04

    Actually 3.5, were that possible on GoodReads.I really enjoy science fiction with lots of science, and especially evolutionary concepts, so this book appealed to me immensely in theory. In practice, I found myself skipping huge amounts of text so I could move the plot along. The science behind the concept was intriguing and well developed, but the rest of the story dragged on longer than I thought necessary. For those who like their scifi with indepth descriptions of every character and their every action, the book would find a higher rating. This is definitely science fiction, packed with terminology and lab work. But Bear did a good job making it accessible to non-scifi buffs with the glossary and diffusion of the science throughout the human interest portion of the story. Personally, I preferred the science portion, finding the relationships a little shallow and quick to form.I do look forward to reading the sequel, to find out more about the new species of human.

  • Rachel (Kalanadi)
    2019-02-08 08:58

    Wrong book at a very wrong time for me, but given the bit about mass miscarriages and deformed fetuses and etc. I doubt I would want to stomach this during even a good time.

  • Faith
    2019-02-04 11:08

    Oh man. This was basically a DNF, as I did a lot of skimming.I picked this up expecting a sort of virus-thriller (like Contagion, or the Andromeda Strain, I imagine). And besides, it was about things hiding in our genes and I have a keen academic interest in evolution.But I could NOT get through this.Firstly, the science. Bear actually started out solidly, talking about lysogenic viruses and how our genome could contain parts of these viruses. Okay, so far so good. Suddenly they could be activated, making viruses again! Ah scary! Cool, with you so far. Hey! They could also be somehow involved in evolution, by transferring genetic material laterally instead of vertically, like some bacteria do. Okay, interesting.And maybe that evolution is somehow directed, and the virus has been triggered because our species needs to evolve RIGHT NOW into something new.Okay....what?Evolution does not work like that. At all. Even proponents of punctuated equilibrium don't imagine that speciation occurs within a single generation, as far as I'm aware.I recognize that this is a work of fiction. There's nothing that says you have to use real science in your book, and I'm certainly not going to insist that science fiction be written my way or not at all.But this just wasn't my cup of tea.Setting aside the science, though, there are still problems. The pace is slow, and includes plot points and characters that to me felt extraneous. I was also looking forward to reading about a brilliant lady scientist, but eventually the book became all about the new babies and not so much about science, and lady scientists. Also I thought the form of the "new species" was ridiculous, but I recognize that's an issue of personal taste.Ultimately, just not my thing. Off it goes to BookMooch, where maybe it can make someone else happy.Oh, one last thing. Bear called Neandertals humans! I was so excited! All ready to give him brownie pointsThen I realized where he was headed, with the whole Neandertal-parents-modern-baby thing. Yeah, no. SO MUCH NO. I just...NO. (I'm not going to go into a full explanation here, but if you're curious please ask. Please! I love talking about ancient humans and early hominins).

  • Joe
    2019-01-31 09:02

    This sci-fi "thriller" never really worked for me. The basic premise -- there is a virus that allows the human genetic code to undergo a massive change to a higher lifeform -- provides a reasonable basis for the novel, but as a story it never comes together.The details of the new virus slowly emerge, as more people become infected and scientists start to study it. Instead of building dramatically in the novel, it gets slowly dished out with enough hints as to where it is going that I started to feel as though I had read each detail three times. Ultimately, I just stopped caring.The characters started off seeming relatively interesting, but no one in the book acted like a real person. The widespread riots and reactions in the book seemed ridiculous to me, and the main characters faced no bigger enemies than bureaucracy and their own indecision.When a sci-fi epidemic book is more mundane and less dramatic than any number of books that tell true stories of viral outbreaks, why waste your time?

  • Maree
    2019-01-27 12:01

    I've been trying to figure out if I've read this one before, or if it just seems familiar because I've read the second book in the series. I think I remember the second book being a lot more engaging, perhaps because there are a lot of very smart children in it, and who doesn't enjoy little kids showing up adults?This start is a little drier, and it's very science heavy, so if you're not into DNA and genetics, you might want to skip this one. I have a passing interest, and I was decently able to follow it with my college courses, but some of it was definitely over my head as well. And when it wasn't getting into the nitty gritty of what is a virus and what is not, it was talking about the spread and trying to scientifically figure out gestation and other fun science-y things. Which I did like, but is definitely meant for a specific audience.It did feel like it was just getting started at the end there, so book 2 is the place to be! I may have to reread that one.

  • Althea Ann
    2019-01-21 05:43

    A fast-paced, page-turning sci-fi/medical thriller, with an acknowledged nod to Robin Cook's "Outbreak." However, the interesting (although improbable) scientific ideas in the book lift it above the run-of the-mill bestseller.An unusual discovery is made - two Neandertal mummies, with a seemingly normal, Homo Sapiens infant. Is the child theirs?Meanwhile, a new transmissible retrovirus is discovered - although it might seem to be nothing more than a cold, one of its side effects in pregnant women seems to be miscarriage. Mitch - an anthropological archaeologist with a dubious reputation, and Kaye, a rising star in the field of genetics, are brought together by an unexpected correlation between the ancient discovery and the modern virus. What seems to be a disease may not be that at all - but a major jump in the evolution of the species

  • Paul
    2019-01-24 07:45

    This book could have been considerably better, but the execution was just way off. The idea is interesting, but has significant overtones of the misunderstanding that evolution is in some way directed towards improvement - more really needs to be done to emphasize why this is not a problem, otherwise you're going to lose me in magical thinking.The other issue is that the story and the characters don't seem particularly compelling, and the whole book kinda goes nowhere. I found jarring (view spoiler)[the speed at which David and Kaye got together, as nothing in their interactions prior to that seemed all that romantic, (hide spoiler)] though that would honestly be easily forgivable if it went anywhere interesting.

  • Katie
    2019-01-22 12:56

    I liked it. I started it as an audiobook for a long weekend drive up to Eugene and I liked it enough to check out the book and finish reading it once I got back-I thought about finishing it through the cds but that would have taken too long and I HAD to know what would happen. It's really like two books in one. The first part has lots of science and a slower pace, then the book starts to go down an entirely different and unexpected path, raising some interesting ethical issues along the way. The ending was a little disappointing since it wasn't an ending as much as a teaser for the sequel...makes me wonder if he wrote it with a movie franchise in mind.

  • Wendy
    2019-02-01 09:05

    This is the second book I've read this year about the evolution of humanity, though this one was a little less apocalyptic than The Girl with All the Gifts. Though I didn't find the book itself compelling, the topic was and reading this did inspire me to want to read on to discover what happens to Darwin's Children.

  • Joe
    2019-01-25 09:57

    Vaguely scifi...a current day medical science intrigue. Cool idea. The story is really a thriller about the world's reaction to scary disease-like symptoms resulting in aborted babies and immaculate conceptions, which has occurred many times before in human history, and even before. The main characters are magnificently drawn; I really cared for them or at least could empathize with those I did not like. There were no cardboard cutout placeholders. The writing was magnificent, even if it wasn't exactly scifi.

  • Leslie
    2019-01-17 12:44

    4* for this audiobook edition, 3½* for the book itself. It probably deserves better than that but the politics, while scarily believable, formed too much of the book for me without giving me the feeling of a complete picture.

  • Roddy Williams
    2019-02-11 10:52

    ‘Darwin’s Radio: the missing link thriller The discovery of a mass grave of mutated villagers in the Caucusus; a mummified prehistoric family revealed by ice-thaw high in the Alps; a mysterious new disease that strikes only pregnant women, resulting in miscarriage – three disparate facts that will converge into one science-shattering truth. So-called junk genes that have slept in our DNA for millions of years are waking up; the women who miscarry become spontaneously pregnant again without sexual activity. The new babies are not normal.Governments exact emergency measures: segregation of the sexes, abortion of all foetuses. Only three scientists in the world believe it isn’t a plague: famous biologist Kaye Lang, disgraced palaeontologist Mitch Rafelson and the government’s ‘virus hunter’ Christopher Dicken. Can their leap of faith overcome mass panic and superstition?’ Blurb to the 2000 harpercollins paperback edition. The subject of Homo Superior or indeed Human Evolution has been a rare theme in SF of late, but Bear has taken the concept and reinvented it anew in an ingenious and compelling novel. Bear is an established writer of Hard SF which I prefer to categorise better as Big Science. His work is always solidly based on extrapolation of real science and as such produces incredibly plausible works in which huge ideas are dealt with. More importantly Bear is always guaranteed to provide solid characters and societies which are impacted and changed by discoveries or events in a logical and realistic way. Darwin’s Radio builds its premise around contemporary research on redundant genetic material in the human genome and on phages, beneficial viruses which can be employed in place of antibiotics to fight bacterial infection. The central idea is that human DNA contains and ancient HERV (Human Endogenous Retrovirus) which is not only capable of converting the DNA within the ovaries of a human foetus, but also of infection throughout the human population. Three people gradually come to the conclusion that SHEVA (as the virus is named) has been instrumental in leaps of human evolution and in particular, causing Neanderthal Man (or rather woman) to give birth to Homo Sapiens. Bear makes this scenario horribly believable and concentrates on the frantic race for a vaccine while the world, experiencing an epidemic of miscarriages, erupts into chaos. As is typical for Bear, politics on many levels provides a stumbling block toward common sense and the need to face the truth about the true nature of SHEVA. The true horrors of the novel, such as the mob violence, the mass-killings of pregnant women and the outbreaks of religious fundamentalism and human sacrifice are for the most part kept in the background while Bear revels in his mastery of focusing on individual characters and through them disseminating the scientific research as it develops, hindered by the agendas of individuals and political systems and indeed by political divisions within the scientific community itself. The ending is atypical of Bear, who previously tended to bring his novels to a grand climax such as in ‘Moving Mars’ where again, politics and science collide to produce a denouement where the planet Mars is transported across the galaxy to a new home. The understated ending here is downbeat but optimistic, showing the new ‘Homo Sapiens Novus’ children either living in reservations or existing (like Van Vogt’s Slans) secretly within human communities.Wisely perhaps, Bear only gives us fleeting glimpses of what these children may grow into. Equipped with organs capable of discharging a range of pheromones; chameleonesque colour changing facial skin cells and additional vocal skills, the super-children seem destined to be masters of communication and persuasion. Skills, in fact, vital for survival in contemporary society.

  • Davyne DeSye
    2019-02-03 10:48

    Love this book!First, and despite it being a “hard” science fiction with lots of science, it is very much centered on the characters – I love that. I read to get into a character’s head – to feel their fear, frustration, happiness, lust, pain – and this book gives all of that.I also enjoy when the science in science fiction feels real and is made interesting. The science in this book focuses on genetics and biological evolution which are topics I’ve always been interested in, and it is presented in such a way that I did not find it dry and boring. I also didn’t feel like I was in over my head.The plot is fantastic. Women all over the world start having miscarriages, or when a pregnancy does not miscarry, the child is born dead or with deformities. Naturally, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control try to find out what new disease is causing these horrible outcomes. The CDC sends out its foremost “virus hunter” to track down the disease so that a cure can be found...Meanwhile, a geneticist with theories about why our cells contain so much “junk” DNA touches on the idea that perhaps, in times of great social stress, these apparently useless pieces of DNA recombine to help jump-start an evolutionary change – a change that will allow a new species or subspecies to emerge that can better deal with the stresses. Maybe this isn’t a disease after all…These competing scientific theories are fine in a vacuum, but can you imagine the social reaction to women miscarrying, especially after learning that men are the vectors of the disease? Or the fear people will have of the pregnant woman when, once pregnant, they are also carriers of the disease? Mayhem. Riots. Murder. Genocide.In comes the politics… Big Pharma wants to produce a cure for the disease, Emergency Action Taskforce Offices are set up in every state, martial law is declared, quarantines are established, civil liberties are nonexistent and the battle between the scientists of both scientific camps becomes ugly – really ugly – when politicians and other power mongers start taking sides.In the midst of all the politics, science and general mayhem, we follow Kaye, the geneticist with a dangerous and unpopular idea, Mitch, an evolutionary anthropologist, and Christopher, the virus hunter. Each has emotional baggage and human frailties that make them so real and relatable, while each is also a genius in their field. Even minor characters have depth, one of my favorites being Marge Cross, the multibillionaire running a large pharmaceutical company looking for a cure.This book is rich – rich in characterization, rich in science, rich in plot, and well… downright scary sometimes. Pick your favorite scientific camp and the outcome is still scary: What if no more living children are born because of this disease? Or, what if we are the last of homo sapiens sapiens because evolution of a new species is upon us?Terrific stuff! I will end up re-reading this one… Highly recommended.

  • Tara
    2019-02-16 06:04

    This book was fabulously engaging and well-orchestrated. Despite setting and character shifts at the end of every chapter, it was never difficult to track where on the timeline and geography of the novel I was. The scientific precepts of the book, while fantastic, are not unbelievable and deal with what the author calls subspeciation. The tenet of the book is that evolution is a force of its own - that the human genome gathers information and stores it in what we call 'junk' DNA [ha! biology! I know this shit.], and when the species is threatened or overly stressed, certain genes activate to form hitherto unforseen proteins in the male body, which are communicated sexually to a female partner. Both partners then contract what is known as Herod's flu, and the eventual infant has 52 chromosomes [rather than the homo sapiens sapiens 46] - a new species, or subset of species, established in one generation, rather than the more-than-a-million years of trial-and-error Darwin originally proposed. The idea is that a) evolution is going on below the radar, we each carry not just our phenotype, but our own genetic R&D team; b) evolution is a two-person activity - men carry this flu and can communicate it only to steady female sexual partners; c) environmental stresses are experienced by humans as a species rather than strictly on the individual level, because of our social nature, thus programmed responses tend to take on a large base of action.Bear balances his science and his socialization very nicely in this novel, and doesn't overreach on either front. While there were a few phases where I really wished I had paid more attention to the genetics unit, I understood the science overall, and never had trouble suspending my disbelief for it.The only thing that bothered me at all about this book was the way Bear developed his female protagonist. Throughout the novel she's shown as brilliant and deductive, a scientist on the brink of earning a Nobel who is always well thought-out and deductive. She's charming and ambitious and her dialogue is both witty and measured. Then, inexplicably, she does the equivalent of a completely insane flipout in the context of the book. For the sake of plot, I won't say what, but man, it's unorthodox choice. and she never thinks twice about it, or considers the consequences. her scientific characterization is totally abandoned in the face of 'omghormonesandLOVE!'. I understand doing some weird things over hormones, but never thinking about them or considering the ramifications of what you're doing? That's the part that usually makes you feel so crazy for doing it - that you have thought about the consequences, and do it anyway. At any rate, it kind of felt like "here's this brilliant and independent female role model who OH SHE FLIPPED HER SHIT. Must be That Time of the Month".

  • Dan Guajars
    2019-01-22 10:54

    La encontré entre una pila de libros que me prestó mi padre hace algún tiempo y que tenía por olvidado. Con el gancho de ser ganadora del premio Nébula (dicen que es el equivalente al Óscar) y finalista del Hugo n el 2000, pues que me di a la lectura gustoso.El libro es un thriller bstsellereco que llora por la miniserie. La historia es simple y a causa de esa simpleza, el autor arroja toda su capacidad de novelista sobre el lector y desborda con una cantidad abrumadora de spam.Comienza presentando a un personaje, luego blabablá, quién amó a quién, pucha que hace frío, y un descubrimiento arqueológico sin precedentes. Luego otro personaje, más blablabá, política de países indoeuropeos, y un descubrimiento forense. Sigue oro personaje, mucho blablablá, y un descubrimiento científico. Y después… casi quinientas páginas de muuuuucho ripio, problemas conyugales, confabulaciones, dolores de un corazón torturado, derrepente una teoría, un atisbo de ciencia ficción, y luego flato tras flato de relleno hasta el desenlace.Es un infierno de páginas de relleno. Personalmente me atosiga leer una novela donde el autor dedica muchas páginas para describir a un personaje secundario que se muere o que no es un aporte a la historia, los crea y los destruye con el único fin de llenar páginas. Tal vez esos personajes aporten con una pista, pero bien podría haberme ahorrado la lata. Y la historia no se mueve, luego de las primeras cien páginas que enganchan, van trescientas que adormecen y las últimas cien resucitan.De las quinientas páginas que tiene mi versión de bolsillo, la historia bien podada habría dado para doscientas hojas de puro filete, con personajes robustos y un contexto verosímil. Pero como decía mi abuelita (todavía dice), el que mucho abarca poco aprieta.Sinopsis (SPOILER): Diversos descubrimientos científicos apuntan a que un antiguo virus escondido en el propio genoma humano, estaría produciendo abortos de fetos monstruosos. Estos fetos, se descubre después, son sólo un intermediario (capaz de producir un óvulo fecundado) entre la madre y el segundo embarazo sin concepción que sucede inmediatamente al aborto. Las autoridades enloquecen, algunos científicos anuncian que los niños que nazcan traerán un virus mortal, cosa que no se prueba pero que genera alarma pública. Y otros científicos más sensatos, entre ellos la mujer que descubrió el virus y que está embarazada de esta criatura, comprenden que se trata de un salto evolutivo con precedentes (de los simios a los neandertal y de ellos al homo sapiens) y deciden escapar.Para un tipo de gustos complejos como yo que no gusta de perder el tiempo con aserrín literario, resultó un libro aburridídimo. Y NO LEERÉ LA SECUELA.

  • Tim
    2019-01-28 08:49

    I listened to an audio version of this which was well read by Stefan Rudnicki. Darwin's Radio is a good example of hard scifi, i.e. fiction that is well rooted in legitimate and plausible science, even if the events that take place are probably impossible. The story follows two scientists, one a medical researcher named Kaye Lang, and the other Mitch Rafelson, some type of anthropologist or museum researcher who has run into trouble with the authorities. They are both on the trail of something weird, which turns out to be the biggest scientific event in decades, if not centuries.The story begins with the museum researcher discovering the corpse of a prehistoric humanoid in a high mountain cave. At the same time, Lang is researching a bizarre virus (Herod's Flu or SHEVA) that seems to cause women to become pregnant, regardless of whether they have been having sex. Another main character is a wiley Southerner, Christopher Dicken, who is one of the leaders of the Centers for Disease Control. As the virus begins to spread, political pressure starts to grow. Lang comes to believe that the virus is not an illness, but something that is triggering a leap forward in human evolution. She is overruled by her colleagues, who bow to public opinion, and begin treating the phenomenon like an illness that needs to be stamped out. The number of unusual pregnancies begins to grow, and Lang strikes up an affair with the anthropologist.Bear writes in a clear, cool, intelligent manner. His characterizations are not the richest, and there is not much lightness or humor, but these matters do not diminish the pleasures of the narrative. He creates a believable depiction of contemporary scientists confronting a bizarre new event, and is very good at depicting the bureaucratic maneuvering that transpires as the phenomenon begins to spread. He provides what sounded to my unscientifically trained critical faculty to be at least plausible, if not actually possible, scientific explanations. And that is, of course, what counts, because this is a work of fiction. I began describing the book to a scientist relative, and she cut me off, saying that she was only interested in real science, not loony, fictional science. This makes perfect sense, since this kind of book is meant not to educate in an entertaining manner, but to entertain in an educated manner - and it succeeds in doing so.

  • Kim
    2019-02-14 13:04

    This might be the most engaging sci-fi book I've read in months or possibly years.Although I had to fight my inclination to edit the book as I read (lots of extraneous details that hinder rather than help, and some clunky habits), the story was compelling enough to keep me reading at a rapid clip.In present-day end-of-the-millennium, a massive challenge to the accepted theory of gradual evolution threatens the entire human population's ability to understand itself. Bear's managing to take such a high-level view of a medical crisis while focusing on only a few key players is a wonderful feat.Scientists are by turns thrilled, baffled, supported and challenged, and they don't have enough time to find answers. Politicians are interested in politics, not as much in science (or they might be interested in science, but sometimes only if it reinforces their career). And the general public riots.Given my recent rantings about people's general inclination to believe what's convenient even if it contradicts what's true (see vaccination hysteria), I found this book to be thoroughly engrossing. Science is the clear winner, here.The characters are compelling, though I wasn't fully satisfied by the development of some. At times, Bear seemed lazy in his characterizations, and at others he approached the profound. I'd stop there, but I feel I must state this obvious bit: Mr. Bear, there's not a chance in hell Kaye Lang would, at any time, look fiercely into the eyes of someone threatening her and correct their address by saying, "It's *Mrs.* Lang." It's Ms. Lang, no doubt. Or, if the correction must be made, it's *Dr.* Lang.There's a sequel I hear isn't as extraordinary, but I do plan to read it. For now, I enthusiastically recommend Darwin's Radio to any hard sci-fi fan; anyone interested in evolutionary biology, genetics, anthropology, obstetrics, sociology or mob psychology; and folks who avoid sci-fi because they don't like spaceships and funny names.