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Darwin's Radio [Mass Market Paperback]

Greg Bear
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (220 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 5 2000

Ancient 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.

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From Amazon

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. Why are people turning against their neighbors and their newborn children? And what is causing an epidemic of still births? A disgraced paleontologist and a genetic engineer both come across evidence of cover-ups in which the government is clearly up to no good. But no one knows what's really going on, and the government is covering up because that is what, in thrillers as in life, governments do. And what has any of this to do with the discovery of a Neanderthal family whose mummified faces show signs of a strange peeling?

Greg Bear has spent much of his recent career evoking awe in the deep reaches of space, but he made his name with Blood Music, a novel of nanotechnology that crackled with intelligence. His new book is a workout for the mind and a stunning read; human malignancy has its role in his thriller plot, but its real villain, as well as its last best hope, is the endless ingenious cruelty of the natural world and evolution. --Roz Kaveney, Amazon.co.uk --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In the medical/SF tradition of Robin Cook, Bear (Blood Music) spins an outlandish tale of evolutionary apocalypse. In an ice cave in the Swiss Alps, Mitch Rafelson, a renegade paleontologist, discovers a frozen Neanderthal family, including an oddly evolved infant. Meantime, in Soviet Georgia, Kaye Lang, a microbiologist, is investigating a massacre site, where pregnant women were exterminated. These events relateAby way of elliptical scientific reasoningAto a retrovirus being hunted by U.S. government scientist Christopher Dicken. Called SHEVA, it causes genetic mutations in embryos and may also be an agent of evolution, ushering into being a new race of humans. Is it a sexually transmitted disease? Or, more sinister, is it a God-sent means of delivering up a new Adam for the millennium? When Mitch and Kaye fall in love, then decide to bring their own SHEVA baby to full term, they are about to find out the truth firsthand. This complicated tale is read somberly by the deep-voiced Rudnicki, who works hard to keep the sense of drama high through all the mumbo jumbo. Simultaneous release with the Ballantine hardcover. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An evolutionary threat or a bold leap forward? July 17 2004
By Brian
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Greg Bear's Darwin's Radio was an intriguing look at humanity's grappling with a virus which apparently causes women to have an abortion, but a month after this abortion takes place, the women find they're pregnant again, often without even having had sex. In response to this, riots break out all over the world as people fear these strange occurences and a possible end to modern society as we know it. In the midst of all this is Dr. Kaye Lang, a molecular biologist who has some interesting theories on this supposed virus and its real purpose, and Mitch Rafelson, a palentologist who's discovered the remains of a man, woman and baby from thousands of years ago who may have been experiencing a similar evolutionary process.
The book does a very good job of giving the main characters proper attention. Each character is well defined and their complexities are explored. But, I have to say that the book may have went a little too far in this pursuit. I often found that I wanted more discussion of the attempts at studying and dealing with the virus, but instead much of the book focused on the personal lives of Kaye and Mitch. Although I must admit that the developments between them weren't completely immaterial, the description of the book on the back cover is rather misleading. I would hardly say that Kaye Lang and Christopher Dicken race to solve an evolutionary puzzle.
Despite the fact that the novel headed in a rather different direction than I had anticipated, it was fairly entertaining. The premise was really rather interesting and I liked the questions which were raised by the unfolding events. This novel really had much to do with human nature and questions concerning our own origins. Plus, I hadn't ever read a science fiction novel dealing with evolution so it was a nice change. Overall, I would say read this book if you're really interested. It may not be exactly what you expect, but that doesn't mean you won't like it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sheva Virus: disease or evolutionary event? March 21 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
When an apparent virus begins hitting pregnant women and destroying their unborn fetuses, panic ensues. But discoveries made in the Alps, and the Republic of Georgia, show it's happened before; right before a major evolutionary advance in the human species. Soon, healthy children with unusual characteristics are born in increasing numbers. Some insist that they are diseased with retroviruses that threaten all of humanity. Others fight to get the truth accepted: homo sapiens sapiens is not the final word in human evolution.
Darwin's Radio is entertaining and thought-provoking. His homo sapiens novus, the new children whose genomes are shaped by the Sheva virus, are not the usual pat "advanced humans" you find in pulp sf, with big heads and telepathic abilities. They are more realistic than that, tho endowed with unusual abitities from the perspective of society as a whole. The novel in many respects goes beyond its genre, and would interest people not generally into science-fiction.
As the government reacts with political calculation and brutality to the Sheva children, more enlightened minds must find a way to convince the world to live in harmony with them. Read this book, then Darwin's Children. Bear has also talked about writing a third book in the group. A great job; in my opinion the two novels are his best work to date.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
I used to try to convince myself that I was smart enough to read Greg Bear's books AND completely understand them. I was, of course, 16, so I knew everything. I decided I didn't like his books because they were so 'depressing'. Suuuurrreee they were depressing - they were far more of a blow to my ego (as I have come to realize now). Unfortunately, all hard Sci-fi that I read over the next year or so got tarred by that brush and to this day I've avoided it, avoiding most Sci-fi in the process.
Now that I'm 33, and am amply aware that I don't know everything, I only paused briefly before picking up Darwin's Radio. (Actually, I grabbed it off the shelf and was reading the description on the back before I even saw the author - I regularly judge books by their covers, you see, and I liked the title and color of this one.) When I saw the author, I put it back, recalling my teenage distaste for his books. I told my husband that I didn't like his end of the world books and that I sure wasn't going to get *that* book, but when we went to check out, I had it in my hand.

I've just finished it. I didn't understand some of it, but my feeble brain managed to grasp most of it. Tenuously, but there was a grasp all the same. I had to think about some of what I was reading, really think on it, and it's been a very long time since I've read a book that did that. It felt good, as crazy as that sounds, and I'm looking forward to thinking more in the coming year.
For anyone who stays away from hard sci-fi yet reads Robin Cook novels, pick this up. My only regret was that I didn't read the short biological primer at the back of the book and I didn't make use of the glossary. (note to self: always look at the back of the book before reading.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Clever Title. Story a little uneven April 13 2004
This was my first Greg Bear book, and I had some mixed feelings about it.
First of all the premise of the book was excellent! I appreciated the fact that Mr. Bear had done his research for the book. Because of the many biology terms used in the book, I found myself going back to the glossary many times. Right or wrong, Mr. Bear chose to use the biology terms in his book. At times during reading the book, I wondered to myself is Mr. Bear writing for biologists, or for the general public?
The first half of the book was intersting, then the last half was a bit boring and kind of dragged. I felt he spent too much time writing about the political side of things, explaining the political ramifications on the effects of SHEVA. He did write on some of the effects SHEVA had on society, but not enough.
I was really surprised when one of the main characters kind of dropped off until the end. I wished the Stella character appeared a little earlier, she was very interesting, and could have added another twist to the plot. Just my 0.02.
This is not a typical science fiction bang-bang shoot'em up type of novels. But a thought provoking story about man kind, his past and his future.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Simplistic and Irritating: Reads like a bad first novel.
Over the past few years I've devoured most of the writings of Isaac Asimov, Octavia E. Butler, Kim Stanley Robinson, Arthur C. Clarke, Ursula K. Read more
Published 19 months ago by CalltheDoctor
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor story line
I'm going to keep this review short. Just wanted to give a rating so that system is fair, meaning the ratings are not filled with all 5 star people telling you to buy it. Read more
Published on June 8 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars Great, great idea but a little bad in the execution
Why you should read this:
If you like virus thrillers like Preston's The Hot Zone or Crichton's The Andromeda Strain then you will really like this book. Read more
Published on June 4 2004 by Inchoatus.com
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent hard-core scifi!
Having loved scifi when young, I've become jaded over the years with the gendre. I guess it's because I love science, and so much of scifi strays pretty far from science and into... Read more
Published on May 28 2004 by Dennis S.
4.0 out of 5 stars "Hello, Mitch"
Hard science, not hard science - the point is it's fiction, and it's entertaining.
I think the book will be perceived as better when taken in conjunction with the sequel. Read more
Published on May 16 2004 by owookiee
4.0 out of 5 stars Great!
Not a scientist myself, I can't comment on whether what is discussed in this book is plausible scientifically. But as a fan of intelligent SF, this one is worth reading. Read more
Published on April 6 2004 by Jill Elaine Hughes
1.0 out of 5 stars Laughably ridiculous "science"
I must say, I was absolutely relishing reading this one because it sounded great. But be warned, if you know anything about retroviruses/retrotransposons, you will be sorely... Read more
Published on March 27 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars Stellar! Well, almost.
It's an enjoyable read, but the science is definitely rubbery. Only humans have these evolutionary retroviruses? Wouldn't that provide absolute proof of the non-existence of God? Read more
Published on March 6 2004 by Dr. Carstairs
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic New Look at Human Evolution
Mitch Rafelson is an anthropologist with a bad name. He's been accused of raiding burial sites by Native Americans and now he's in the Alps and finds three Neanderthals in an ice... Read more
Published on Jan. 6 2004 by B. Merritt
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