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Darwin's Children Library Binding – Jun 2004
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Darwin's Children, Greg Bear's follow-up to Darwin's Radio, is top-shelf science fiction, thrilling and intellectually charged. It's no standalone, though. The plot and characters are certainly independent of the previous novel, but the background in Darwin's Radio is essential to nonbiologists trying to understand what's going on. The next stage of human evolution has arrived, announced by the birth of bizarre "virus children." Now the children with the hypersenses and odd faces are growing up, and the world has to figure out what to do with them. The answer is evil and all too human, as governments put the kids in camps to protect regular folks from imagined dangers. Mitch and Kaye, scientists whose daughter Stella is swept up in the fray, become unwillingly involved in the politics that erupt around the issue of the new humans. Harrowing chases, gun battles, epidemics, and tense meetings about civil rights ensue, all brilliantly narrated. But just when you think you've got the book figured out, Bear throws a massive curveball by introducing... religion. That's right, a good old-fashioned epiphany, plopped down in the middle of a hard science fiction novel. But even skeptical readers will be swept along with Kaye as she tries to deal with what's happening to her and how it relates to the fate of her daughter's species. Keep reading past the words that make you uncomfortable--the hot science, the cool spirituality--and you'll be rewarded with a story of complete and moving humanity. --Therese Littleton --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
In this masterful sequel to his Nebula Award-winning Darwin's Radio, Bear takes us into a near future forever changed by the birth of millions of genetically enhanced babies to mothers infected with the SHEVA virus. These children may represent the next great evolutionary leap, but some fear their appearance rings a death knell for traditional humanity. Geneticist Kaye Lang, archeologist Mitch Rafelson and their daughter, Stella Nova, have been hiding from an increasingly repressive U.S. government that wants to put the so-called "virus children" in what are essentially concentration camps. Eventually, the family is captured, and when Mitch resists he's arrested on a trumped-up charge of assaulting a federal officer. In later years, Kaye returns to genetics and Mitch, once he's out of jail, to archeology, but neither gives up hope of finding and freeing their daughter. Meanwhile, Stella, imprisoned but surrounded by her own kind, begins to explore the full significance of what it means to be post-human. Though cast in a thriller mode, like much of Bear's recent work, this novel may contain too much complex discussion of evolutionary genetics to appeal to Michael Crichton or Robin Cook fans. Nonetheless, Bear's sure sense of character, his fluid prose style and the fascinating culture his "Shevite" children begin to develop all make for serious SF of the highest order.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The topic matter at hand truly could lend itself to very interesting story-telling, but in this text Bear does not seem to push hard enough. What it lacks is a penetrating insight needed to take expository texts into the realm of worthwhile fiction.
Also, I think that a chief problem in the plot arcs is that they do not cohere very well. Much is left out and context is often absent, with the result for me being that I really didn't follow the story - as it were - too closely. I found myself skipping/skimming over large portions of the text.
The "science is good" in the text, sure, but the "science is good" also in Scientific American. In the SF genre, good science absent good ploting means, ultimately, a less fruitful yield.
What perhaps irks me the most is that the actual payoff of the text is so asymmetrical with the tout & hype.
Put another way, if this is considered "masterful" science fiction, then we are in a dark period of science fiction writing. My view is that the science fiction genre, emblazoned as it used to be with irreverance and occasional iconoclastic brilliance, is now almost completely subject to creativity-dampening strictures of political correctness. Bear's work is almost a monment to P.C. in writing.
Put anoyther way: P.C. and S.F. are utterly incompatible. Since the publishing industry will not publish those texts which do not jibe with current notions of what's P.C., and since the American readership is evidently so docile and easily pleased, then we may predict an extended dark age for the SF genre.Read more ›
Both novels make use of an iconoclastic theory of evolution in which elements of the "junk DNA" found in humans as well as other creatures responds to stresses in the environment by bringing about changes in the genomes of the species'off-spring. When these human up-grades are born in increasing numbers, society reacts with predicable fear and panic. The children are removed from their parents, who are oftentimes not told where they are, or what's happened to them, and forced to live in concentration-camp type "schools", where they grow to adolescence in a society which seems to resent their existence. At first, there are legitimate fears that these children may harbor dangerous viral diseases; later the policy is continued for reasons of political expediency.
Both novels follow the main protagonists Kaye and Mitch, who, with their daughter Stella, one of the Homo Sapiens Novus, struggle to keep their family together, and to bring about a more humane societal response to the new humans in their midst.
The books, which should be read one story, are informative, suspenseful, and very moving. In my opinion, the story as a whole is Bear's best.
The trauma faced by society as a whole, who's leaders mistakenly believe that these children pose a disease risk to the society, is exceeded by that of the parents, who find their children forcibly taken away from them, often without any follow-up word on where they are, or what their condition is. And the new children themselves have to deal with a world that seems to resent their existance, forced into concentration camp type "schools", and kept there even after evidence clearly indicates there is no danger, for reasons of political expediency.
The two main characters, Kaye and Mitch, and their daughter Stella, one of the Homo Sapiens Novus, contend with forces seemingly beyond their control, trying to keep their family together, and to help bring about a more humane response to the new type of human being in our midst. The story,again including both books, is genetically informative, suspensful, and very moving. Get both books and read them as a single work. I highly recommend both of them!
Most recent customer reviews
I've been a fan of Greg Bear for sometime, it started, I think, with Eon. Like Orson Scott Card, another favourite, Bear writes stories about people, draped over a science fiction... Read morePublished on Oct. 27 2004 by Neil Tabbenor
This sequel tells the story of Kaye's daughter up to about 16 years of age. The new species of man Bear creates proves to be not all that different. Read morePublished on June 25 2004 by owookiee
Greg Bear was my favorite writer, period. If I saw a new novel from him, I'd buy it, no questions asked. But Darwin's radio falls short. Read morePublished on June 25 2004 by Franklin
This isn't really a bad book, but it is almost a rehash of the second X-Men movie. Here you have a school (or a series of schools) for gifted children beset by government officials... Read morePublished on June 7 2004
Why you should read this:
Many of the devoted fans of Bear who read with relish Darwin's Radio will eagerly look forward to buying this book. Read more
I do not like to read, and was forced to read a book for an english class I took. I chose this book randomly off of the libray shelves judging only by the science fiction label on... Read morePublished on March 24 2004 by Debora Stinner
I read the first book. Like, read it, on paper. I enjoyed it. So, on a whim, I picked up the sequel to Darwin's Radio on the iTunes Music Store. Boy, it was just awful. Read morePublished on Feb. 22 2004 by Jane Avriette
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 morePublished on Jan. 23 2004 by Thomas Atkins
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. Read morePublished on Dec 6 2003 by Stephen A. Haines