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Darwin's Children

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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 r 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 to break 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.


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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 r 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 to break 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.

30 review for Darwin's Children

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sandi

    This duology (Darwin's Radio and Darwin's Children) is what hard SF should be. It takes some really out-there science, in this case biology and evolution, adds a great story and characters you care about, and makes you really think about what could be. As a Christian who loves science and thinks that Christians who deny all evolutionary theory are off-base, I really appreciated that Bear didn't use his story to declare that there is no God and that people who believe in Him are stupid. Instead, This duology (Darwin's Radio and Darwin's Children) is what hard SF should be. It takes some really out-there science, in this case biology and evolution, adds a great story and characters you care about, and makes you really think about what could be. As a Christian who loves science and thinks that Christians who deny all evolutionary theory are off-base, I really appreciated that Bear didn't use his story to declare that there is no God and that people who believe in Him are stupid. Instead, he leaves that up to individual interpretation. With the growth of radical atheism, that seems to be rather daring. I really liked his position that an extreme evolutionary shift doesn't mean that the new species of hominid has to usurp the old one. The two can live together once the older species gets over its initial fear. That was pretty cool.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ireney Berezniak

    Flat characters, flat story, unappealing premise ... the second book of Greg Bear's "Darwin's Radio" series made me question what it was exactly that I enjoyed in his first book. Part 1 of "Darwin's Children" was particularly tedious, and I had contemplated abandoning the read altogether. The drudgery of various legal proceedings and political discourses effectively eliminated any interesting character or story development. I persevered, and the novel improved slightly in parts 2 and 3. Initially Flat characters, flat story, unappealing premise ... the second book of Greg Bear's "Darwin's Radio" series made me question what it was exactly that I enjoyed in his first book. Part 1 of "Darwin's Children" was particularly tedious, and I had contemplated abandoning the read altogether. The drudgery of various legal proceedings and political discourses effectively eliminated any interesting character or story development. I persevered, and the novel improved slightly in parts 2 and 3. Initially, the premise of sudden evolutionary jump instigated by a retrovirus was interesting to me. Perhaps that is the reason that I had enjoyed Darwin's Radio, the first work in the series. However, the result of that sudden evolutionary jump was underwhelming at best, and downright ... disgusting. Yes, the idea of communication through scents does not appeal to me in the slightest. This communication also involves persuasion, most commonly utilized by the new breed of humans to manipulate others. On one occasion, the art of persuasion involves the crumpling of paper, dabbing the resulting ball in some excretion behind the instigator's ear, and tossing that pheromone bomb near the target, while verbally coercing the aforementioned target to the instigator's point of view. Often, the new humans are described as smelling each other, or touching the excreting areas of their bodies and smelling their fingers. Hardly an evolutionary jump ... certain humans today are known to stick their hands under their armpits and enjoy the sensory stimuli afforded by their noses afterwards. I certainly hope that our next evolutionary jump does not regress us to this form of communication, where we smell each others butts to say hello or to ask how our day is going. Theology also finds its way into this novel, particularly towards the second half of the novel, as if thrown in as an afterthought, just before the novel went to the presses. It's awkward, not particularly compelling, and unnecessary. If I was to judge Bear on this work, I would not credit him with mastery in story telling. While it would be unfair for me to say that this book reads more like a scientific dissertation, rather than a literary work of fiction, it does come close. The enjoyment of this title ultimately rests with personal preferences. ib.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Devin

    For all its trappings as a thriller that keeps the reader turning the pages this is a deeply researched science fiction tale that speculates upon the social upheaval caused by accelerated evolution. This is the sequel to the equally thrilling _Darwin's Radio_, and it is remarkable how fresh that read felt and how easy it was to get re-engaged with these characters after more than ten years reading that prequel. Taken together, the Darwin novels mix together a heady concoction of speculative biol For all its trappings as a thriller that keeps the reader turning the pages this is a deeply researched science fiction tale that speculates upon the social upheaval caused by accelerated evolution. This is the sequel to the equally thrilling _Darwin's Radio_, and it is remarkable how fresh that read felt and how easy it was to get re-engaged with these characters after more than ten years reading that prequel. Taken together, the Darwin novels mix together a heady concoction of speculative biology and political intrigue guided along by a core set of likable characters.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    Wow. Another excellent book by Greg Bear. This guy writes about hard science in a way that keeps the reader engaged and edified, and writes scenes and characters that really resonate. He's helped in this regard by the fact that I just read Darwin's Radio a few weeks ago, and am still very familiar with the characters and situations he's building upon here. But wow. This book just flows. well though-out, intriguing and beautifully written. Wow. Another excellent book by Greg Bear. This guy writes about hard science in a way that keeps the reader engaged and edified, and writes scenes and characters that really resonate. He's helped in this regard by the fact that I just read Darwin's Radio a few weeks ago, and am still very familiar with the characters and situations he's building upon here. But wow. This book just flows. well though-out, intriguing and beautifully written.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jerry Brabenec

    A seamless continuation of the previous novel "Darwin's Radio". Characterization, dialogue, and mood are strong points in these novels. They are NOT space operas. Point of view is important and Greg gives us the individual's perspective, not an omniscient explanation. The science is well researched, wish I'd discovered the "Primer on Biology" and glossary at the back of the book. Another science fiction novel with a recommended reading list. Humans and post-humans struggle to reach an understandi A seamless continuation of the previous novel "Darwin's Radio". Characterization, dialogue, and mood are strong points in these novels. They are NOT space operas. Point of view is important and Greg gives us the individual's perspective, not an omniscient explanation. The science is well researched, wish I'd discovered the "Primer on Biology" and glossary at the back of the book. Another science fiction novel with a recommended reading list. Humans and post-humans struggle to reach an understanding in the context of the fear that either could be involuntarily breeding contagions that might exterminate the other. Much of the specific plot involves political, scientific, and cultural ramifications of that fear, and tries to answer the question, "What would a panicked government and societal reaction to a potential pandemic really look like in 21st century America?" The science in this novel was pretty deep for me, though when I talked about it with my wife and son they both seemed to know something about eukaryotes and ribosomes. Neither was explained in the glossary to my annoyance. One characteristic of good science fiction is it extrapolates a possible world from current speculative science, then draws logical conclusions about that world that relate back to ours. In this way a whole science fiction novel is just a big metaphor for the world we really inhabit. Greg Bear has created an enormous metaphor here, I haven't even touched on the subplot about paleoanthropology or the principal character who is being visited by God. The metaphor is really about diversity and tolerance, and is very humane. Matter of fact "Darwin's Children" takes humanity to a new level. But my enjoyment of it boils down to individuals in the end. I care about his characters.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mandy Moody

    Darwin's Children is the sequel to Darwin's Radio. As I've found with most sequels, it wasn't quite as good as the original. It was very, very good - it's just that Darwin's Radio was outstanding. This story picks up about 10 years after the first. Stella Nova is a pre-teen, gently rebellious as a result of being isolated from other "new children". The book begins with her running away from home. Much of the story is dedicated to her and her counterparts. Kaye and Christopher Dicken are back, of c Darwin's Children is the sequel to Darwin's Radio. As I've found with most sequels, it wasn't quite as good as the original. It was very, very good - it's just that Darwin's Radio was outstanding. This story picks up about 10 years after the first. Stella Nova is a pre-teen, gently rebellious as a result of being isolated from other "new children". The book begins with her running away from home. Much of the story is dedicated to her and her counterparts. Kaye and Christopher Dicken are back, of course, and their storylines deal with the effect these children will have on society and civilization - from health repercussions to how they will build their own societies. Mitch is digging again, and I found his sections very interesting. Many of the storylines in Darwin's Children are a little underdeveloped, in my opinion. Normally I'm all for a little mystery - I like it when an author will allow the reader to think, rather than spell every last thing out. This time, however, I felt like Bear rushed through a few things. I would have liked to see Mitch's dig, Stella's relationship with Will and the others at the commune and the Mrs. Rhine story played out a bit more. Still, this was an excellent read overall.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    Very disappointing. Darwin's Radio was clearly an incomplete book which left me hanging, but the conclusion in Darwin's Children was not as satisfying. The book is told in three sections that each jump ahead a few years. The jumps make the story disjointed and leave cahracter's experience's glossed over and unexplained. The second section, the bulk of the book, had Kaye going from one meeting to anther spouting scientific/biological jargon that did not help me understand anything. Mitch's anthro Very disappointing. Darwin's Radio was clearly an incomplete book which left me hanging, but the conclusion in Darwin's Children was not as satisfying. The book is told in three sections that each jump ahead a few years. The jumps make the story disjointed and leave cahracter's experience's glossed over and unexplained. The second section, the bulk of the book, had Kaye going from one meeting to anther spouting scientific/biological jargon that did not help me understand anything. Mitch's anthrological discovery seemed irrelevent and unrelated to the plot. And I did not care for the mysticism that crept in. Kaye's strange experieince was unexplained and never related to the main plot. Stella's experieinces were most interesting, but they were glossed over and skipped in the jumps forward in time.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Calen

    I enjoyed it simply as a conclusion to Darwin's Radio, but it was an awfully long conclusion concerned mostly with humanity's (or at least american's) inability to deal with change and the incredible ineptitude and corruption of our political system, while abandoning, or at least ceasing to elaborate on, the concepts explored in the first. It was a little frustrating that several of the main characters loose ends were never really wrapped up and an unexpected religious element was introduced that I enjoyed it simply as a conclusion to Darwin's Radio, but it was an awfully long conclusion concerned mostly with humanity's (or at least american's) inability to deal with change and the incredible ineptitude and corruption of our political system, while abandoning, or at least ceasing to elaborate on, the concepts explored in the first. It was a little frustrating that several of the main characters loose ends were never really wrapped up and an unexpected religious element was introduced that didn't really add anything aside from the fear that aliens were involved in an otherwise hard science plot. They weren't, but I was ready to throw the book away in an instant if it went that direction.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk

    There were times I wanted to abandon this book, there were other times it showed real potential. I do not understand what it is about Americans but they almost have an orgasmic relationship with their politicians and sub-committees and so-called personal liberties, and religious experiences... and that seemed to play a big role in this neo-"The Chrysalids" tale. Lots of lost potential. There were times I wanted to abandon this book, there were other times it showed real potential. I do not understand what it is about Americans but they almost have an orgasmic relationship with their politicians and sub-committees and so-called personal liberties, and religious experiences... and that seemed to play a big role in this neo-"The Chrysalids" tale. Lots of lost potential.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Roddy Williams

    'Evolution is no longer just a theory 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 r 'Evolution is no longer just a theory 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 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.' Blurb from the 2004 HarperCollins paperback edition. 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. So far Kaye Lang and Mitch have kept their daughter with them by fleeing from town to town. Stella however is keen to meet others of her kind and escapes. This results in her capture and incarceration in one of the isolated schools. 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 ‘Darwin's Children’ 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. There is an upbeat ending in which society has grudgingly accepted its children and they live in their own communities. More and more Shivites are being born among the general population in waves every few years. It’s hard to see how Bear could get a third novel from this idea but one suspects that there is another story in there somewhere, waiting to be hatched.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    This is the sequel to Greg Bear's 1999 Darwin's Radio. It is just as exciting and unique as the first book, if not more. The story opens with Stella, the "virus" daughter of the two scientists from Darwin's Radio, who is now eleven years old and living a highly protected life off the grid with her two parents. Though they have given her the best parenting they cannot give her what she wants most at that age: the freedom to move freely in the world and to have friends her own age. More than a deca This is the sequel to Greg Bear's 1999 Darwin's Radio. It is just as exciting and unique as the first book, if not more. The story opens with Stella, the "virus" daughter of the two scientists from Darwin's Radio, who is now eleven years old and living a highly protected life off the grid with her two parents. Though they have given her the best parenting they cannot give her what she wants most at that age: the freedom to move freely in the world and to have friends her own age. More than a decade after these amazing new children were first being born, the American government still regards them as a dangerous element who could start a plague at any time. Severe legislation, denying these kids any form of human rights, has been put in place. The general public have also been taught to revile and fear what they call the "virus" children. Stella decides to run away and find out about life herself, because her parents have not told her everything and she is intelligent enough to realize this. She is also innocent of how much danger is out there. Her action brings on acute repercussions for all three of them. The rest of the story tells how they each deal with those repercussions. It is heart stopping and while I hoped it would work out in the end, I never knew if it would until the end. Greg Bear's ability to make the results of fear, ignorance, government and financial dishonesty as well as the hunger for power completely realistic, keeps the suspense high. He also teaches us a good deal of cutting edge science and approaches the subject of evolution in its most current stage. He even gets into spiritual questions and makes you wonder how you would react if the newest generation really was an advancement over your own. I recommend reading Darwin's Radio first, if you want to full impact of this volume. Both are great reading.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    As a sequel, I wanted the novel to be everything that Darwin's Radio was: horrifying and hopeful, amazing speculation and memorable characters. What I did get was a pretty cool adventure with a whole new race of humanity trying to adjust with the old species, and the ideas and development were quite good. This one felt more like a regular sci-fi, and unfortunately, it felt like a long epilogue. Taken on it's own, the novel holds up and is fascinating and very enjoyable, memorable characters and a As a sequel, I wanted the novel to be everything that Darwin's Radio was: horrifying and hopeful, amazing speculation and memorable characters. What I did get was a pretty cool adventure with a whole new race of humanity trying to adjust with the old species, and the ideas and development were quite good. This one felt more like a regular sci-fi, and unfortunately, it felt like a long epilogue. Taken on it's own, the novel holds up and is fascinating and very enjoyable, memorable characters and a difficult adjustment. As a follow-up to a very high-class novel, I don't think it quite made it. I still enjoyed it, but I had a problem because my expectations where so high. This is a reader problem, not a novel problem. I suppose I wanted to see the novel go in other directions than it went, or try to one-up the pervading horror that was such a palpable mess in the previous novel. That's neither here nor there. What I do remember was a solid novel that deserves a great rating, even if it doesn't quite match with the one it follows.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tresuiri

    I think this book was better than the first. There is a lot less science in the sequel, and a lot more drama. Unfortunately after a lot of build up and a peak, the other side of the dramatic peak lets off very quickly. I wouldn't say it is a disappointment just that Mr. Bear elected not to flesh out a bit more chapters that he clearly could have. So it is a bit of a jump, but adding those chapters would have made the book a lot longer. As a fluff book to kill commuting time, I would have liked t I think this book was better than the first. There is a lot less science in the sequel, and a lot more drama. Unfortunately after a lot of build up and a peak, the other side of the dramatic peak lets off very quickly. I wouldn't say it is a disappointment just that Mr. Bear elected not to flesh out a bit more chapters that he clearly could have. So it is a bit of a jump, but adding those chapters would have made the book a lot longer. As a fluff book to kill commuting time, I would have liked to have those chapters fleshed out. Mr. Bear certainly puts his main characters through a lot of trouble; I would not characterize this book as a happy read. If you like science fiction drama, you've hit jackpot. I appreciate Mr. Bear sketching out what a quantum leap in evolution might look like for us as humans. True to my belief: we would make it enormously more difficult for ourselves than it need be.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Matt Shaw

    Closer to 4.5 stars, there are some continuity issues in here, some clunky anthropology, and some overwrought bureaucracy showdowns that keep it from a full 5. Having said that, I very much enjoyed this book. The first book, "Darwin's Radio" was a blast of creativity and a fantastic scenario, while its sequel here really examines the very human aftereffects. It's of interest that, in the face of the SHEVA crisis, Bear writes (in 2002) of an American right-wing administration fanning xenophobia a Closer to 4.5 stars, there are some continuity issues in here, some clunky anthropology, and some overwrought bureaucracy showdowns that keep it from a full 5. Having said that, I very much enjoyed this book. The first book, "Darwin's Radio" was a blast of creativity and a fantastic scenario, while its sequel here really examines the very human aftereffects. It's of interest that, in the face of the SHEVA crisis, Bear writes (in 2002) of an American right-wing administration fanning xenophobia among voters to a fever pitch, children seized from their families and held in detention centers, and a concerted effort to discredit science. Yeah....real far-out SF stuff, right? This is a credible ride for the most part, and well-told.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tomislav

    This is the sequel to Greg Bear's award-winning Darwin's Radio. Mitch and Kate have gone underground with their New daughter Stella Nova, and are living a quiet existence in a rural southeastern part of a US descending slowly into fascism. One day Stella can't stand the isolation any longer and goes out for a walk, only to be caught be a bounty hunter, and the chase is on. The story is set in several segments spread out through Stella's teen-age years, and explores the culture invented by the Ne This is the sequel to Greg Bear's award-winning Darwin's Radio. Mitch and Kate have gone underground with their New daughter Stella Nova, and are living a quiet existence in a rural southeastern part of a US descending slowly into fascism. One day Stella can't stand the isolation any longer and goes out for a walk, only to be caught be a bounty hunter, and the chase is on. The story is set in several segments spread out through Stella's teen-age years, and explores the culture invented by the New children. This is still fascinating reading, but without the scientific drama of the original Darwin's Radio.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mark Heptonstall

    Excellent book. I found it really emotive (having two young children) and thought provoking in many parts. Read it in about three days as I couldn't put it down. I really can't get my head around how Greg Bear can move from hard sci-fi to such a deep technically explained true science based novel such as this. Awesome awe for him! Excellent book. I found it really emotive (having two young children) and thought provoking in many parts. Read it in about three days as I couldn't put it down. I really can't get my head around how Greg Bear can move from hard sci-fi to such a deep technically explained true science based novel such as this. Awesome awe for him!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    it is a tense book. Well written and completely different from anything else I have read (aside from Darwin's Radio, of course). it is a tense book. Well written and completely different from anything else I have read (aside from Darwin's Radio, of course).

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jane Dugger

    This book is a sequel to "Darwin's Radio." Read both. A very different tale about evolution. I found them very thought provoking. This book is a sequel to "Darwin's Radio." Read both. A very different tale about evolution. I found them very thought provoking.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tim Pendry

    Sequel to 'Darwin's Radio' (1999), 'Darwin's Children' (2003) takes the story of the SHEVA children, a proposed evolutionary leap in humanity based on stretching a number of then novel evolutionary and related theories, through to their late teenage, mating and pregnancies. Unfortunately the story of the children themselves is often overshadowed by a more half-hearted attempt (than in the previous book) to tell a fundamentally political story and by some unnecessary messaging that must have seeme Sequel to 'Darwin's Radio' (1999), 'Darwin's Children' (2003) takes the story of the SHEVA children, a proposed evolutionary leap in humanity based on stretching a number of then novel evolutionary and related theories, through to their late teenage, mating and pregnancies. Unfortunately the story of the children themselves is often overshadowed by a more half-hearted attempt (than in the previous book) to tell a fundamentally political story and by some unnecessary messaging that must have seemed both necessary and right at the time of writing. In literary terms, it lacks the sustained thriller-like quality of the first book. It even becomes a little dull and stodgy as the story lines that flowed in and out of each other in the first book become far more separated, much as the human hero and heroine become separated for much of the book. It starts well with the failed attempt to protect a SHEVA child and picks up again much later with some intriguing and surprisingly underdeveloped anthropological speculations about what a new species of human might be like in terms of its ability to communicate with its own kind. I think Bear actually underplays what this could mean for us all unless he was planning to save such speculations for a further sequel which never came. As it stands, it is an extension of theorising that the advantage our own species had was our ability to communicate with each other. In some ways, it is an impressive book. Bear certainly blinds us with science when it comes to evolutionary biology and virology and he adds intelligent dashes of archaeology and anthropology. He then rather ruins the effect with some somewhat mystical stuff involving God. The God stuff problem is compounded by the archaeologist Mitch's apparent ability to uncover important human remains by imagining prehistoric scenarios, a gift extended from his imaginings in the first book. This sounds too much like a psychic version of dowsing to me. So we have a hard science book that has some quite well written soft theo written into it. Puzzling. What is going on here? And then you remember - this is America and the book was written in the early 2000s in the wake of the sensitive religion versus science debate triggered by neo-Darwinism. The two extreme sides - neo-Darwinians and creationists - faced each other off polemically. The nice tolerant literary-minded liberal intellectuals were trapped in the middle, not wanting to abandon their prior allegiance to science but also wanting to be inclusive. There was a flood (as I recall) of attempts to 'reconcile' the two traditions which, of course, is daft because they belong to entirely different mind-worlds. A whole series of almost desperate muddy liberal compromises appeared to try and hold things together. This was, after all, America. Within that effort, 'Darwin's Children' may be regarded as a 'success', reasserting hard science at every point but giving space to private experience of the numinous (carefully detached from this world) and yet polemically standing up against tribal claims to block knowledge. This soft polemical effort is why the book becomes a little dull and worthy and perhaps not enormously convincing as credible components of related sciences and disciplines are drawn together to make a story using a method that is, frankly, associated with conspiracy theory. If only Bear had walked away from this ultimately trivial religion/science debate and stuck to the theme that gave his first novel in the series such verve - the socio-political problem of how common humanity will react to the emergence of a new species, both human and post-human. That theme does continue. A specific reference to the 'X-Men' comic book series suggests what may have triggered Bear's interest. The new species are, from the point of common humanity, mutants that are potentially dangerous not in themselves but in bringing new pathogens into the world. But one feels he was stuck with the characters he had developed in the first novel and now wanted them to express the different facets of his hard science diamond - essentially a polemic on the value of science, tolerance and a morality beyond science. Like many socially aware science fiction writers, he tries to say and do too much in too much detail. One chapter with officials and scientists riffing on extremely advanced virology was both impressive but also, frankly, over played in showing off the research done for the book. We could have done with more exploration of the SHEVA children and their development as well as their difficult relationship with common humanity and a little less of the pandering to religion and perhaps of the archaeology with its rather obvious (final) slightly post-hippie messaging. This messaging was laid on with a trowel, even giving us a happy ending of sorts suggesting that, somehow, whatever bad things happen in America, it will always correct itself and come out right. Perhaps this is what America has to keep telling itself to sleep soundly in the dark.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    I'm waffling between a 4 or a 5. I can't help but think that I am reacting to the end of the book when wanting to give it a 5. Overall, the book exemplifies the author, Greg Bear's, excellent writing and construction of story. In this particular case, the story is loosely based on some scientific possibilities and while it is part of a series (*&^%#$%%) it worked well as a stand alone. Great back matter and I loved the whole premise. The story's almost 20 years old but does not appear to date it I'm waffling between a 4 or a 5. I can't help but think that I am reacting to the end of the book when wanting to give it a 5. Overall, the book exemplifies the author, Greg Bear's, excellent writing and construction of story. In this particular case, the story is loosely based on some scientific possibilities and while it is part of a series (*&^%#$%%) it worked well as a stand alone. Great back matter and I loved the whole premise. The story's almost 20 years old but does not appear to date itself. I enjoyed it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mitchell

    A re-read. And a bit different than book one. Way more focused on the next generation. And the author makes a bunch of leaps which science certainly hasn't supported at this point. But interesting possibilities. It does get lost in the weeds in multiple directions. But readable. And imaginative extrapolations aren't a bad thing. But not always believable. Certainly got a little lost. 3.5 of 5. A re-read. And a bit different than book one. Way more focused on the next generation. And the author makes a bunch of leaps which science certainly hasn't supported at this point. But interesting possibilities. It does get lost in the weeds in multiple directions. But readable. And imaginative extrapolations aren't a bad thing. But not always believable. Certainly got a little lost. 3.5 of 5.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Phil

    Not Mr. Bear's finest work. I felt there were a lot of loose ends here. I give him points for something unique and novel but too much science speak and not enough plot. Not Mr. Bear's finest work. I felt there were a lot of loose ends here. I give him points for something unique and novel but too much science speak and not enough plot.

  23. 4 out of 5

    prcardi

    Storyline: 3/5 Characters: 4/5 Writing Style: 3/5 World: 4/5 I didn't really want to read this. I was somewhat ambivalent about the first in the series, Darwin's Radio, and I really thought I'd have been happier if a sequel had not been written. The first ended with adequate closure, and the thought of a follow-up novel was not in the least enticing. But when a sequel is available I have a hard time saying no. So I read, and I was surprised by what I read. This was one of those rare cases where the Storyline: 3/5 Characters: 4/5 Writing Style: 3/5 World: 4/5 I didn't really want to read this. I was somewhat ambivalent about the first in the series, Darwin's Radio, and I really thought I'd have been happier if a sequel had not been written. The first ended with adequate closure, and the thought of a follow-up novel was not in the least enticing. But when a sequel is available I have a hard time saying no. So I read, and I was surprised by what I read. This was one of those rare cases where the sequel was as good as - and perhaps better than - the original. This too shelves in the medical thriller section alongside books such as Michael Crichton's Andromeda Strain. The "thriller" component was catchy in that adrenaline-suspense-political-maneuvering way of such books. The "medical" part was fun because it was so very different from the type of hard science I usually read. The descriptions of phenotypes and receptor sites were leagues beyond my competencies, but Bear did a great job blending it into and making it a major part of the story. I'm in no way qualified to determine if any of it was sensible or realistic, but I believed it to be so as I was reading. I also liked that the epidemiology lingo was limited to the scientist characters and did not bleed into the narration and description; another area in which he did a good job balancing between hard science fiction and storytelling. At about the halfway point I realized I was reading a dystopia and that I was really enjoying it. Dystopias are great, and that evolution kindled a new enthusiasm for me toward the story and the series. This aspect had the additional bonus of alleviating some of the weaknesses of near-future science fiction books. I could recognize the political parties, politicians, and commentators, and I could see how and why Bear thought they would react given the real prospect of a devastating epidemic. But this political critique, this speculation on the present origins of future dystopia, survived the era of the writing. It is timeless in that there will always be conservative and reactionary elements that lash out in fear. The novel as dystopia, however, washed out as the medical thriller proceeded. The heroes were obviously in the right and the fearmongers were obviously backward and selfish. There were no hard choices for the reader - every decision and alignment was clear-cut with no grey areas to explore or feel uncomfortable with. The path to the end of the novel was a monotonous march to a oneness, togetherness, kumbaya, lets-all-be-friends, progressiveness in which any holdouts are all ignoramuses. There's also an odd and incomplete biological-religious substory that runs through all of this but carries with it the same universalist tone. Both of these elements gave the story a slight overdose of predictability. On the whole, however, Darwin's Chldren was an unexpectedly pleasant read. The highlight of the book was undoubtedly the Shiva children and the worldbuilding associated with them. I don't think I would read a lot from the medical thriller shelf, and I'm not well-read enough to know if this was original, but Bear presented realistically menacing medical and political possibilities that were fun to navigate in a novel.

  24. 4 out of 5

    David

    This novel picks up with the characters from Darwin's Radio several story-years later. One I will say, Bear sure knows how to put the screws to his characters! Their situation continues to worsen through most of the story. Even more than with the first of the series, this novel is a study of how American society suffers a loss of civil rights and degradation of the integrity of its legal and political systems under world-changing stress. As such, it is clear allegory for recent events as well as This novel picks up with the characters from Darwin's Radio several story-years later. One I will say, Bear sure knows how to put the screws to his characters! Their situation continues to worsen through most of the story. Even more than with the first of the series, this novel is a study of how American society suffers a loss of civil rights and degradation of the integrity of its legal and political systems under world-changing stress. As such, it is clear allegory for recent events as well as 20th history. I was also somewhat surprised by the strong spiritual element to enters the story. It is fitting, though, and ultimately tied up in the stories resolution. Recommended for young adults and above. No particularly strong language, violence or sex.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jojo

    I found Darwin's Radio 1 to be an enjoyable book, especially as to how parts of it mirrored what occurred during the Covid scamdemic that we are just exiting. I guess human fear of the unknown and not understood is universal. I was looking forward to what would happen in DC2 but found that by the middle of the book, it was fizzling out, meandering all over the place to no good purpose. The ending was especially disappointing. I had expected something exciting to come from the "new" children that o I found Darwin's Radio 1 to be an enjoyable book, especially as to how parts of it mirrored what occurred during the Covid scamdemic that we are just exiting. I guess human fear of the unknown and not understood is universal. I was looking forward to what would happen in DC2 but found that by the middle of the book, it was fizzling out, meandering all over the place to no good purpose. The ending was especially disappointing. I had expected something exciting to come from the "new" children that our virus partners/DNA felt now was the time to release human 3.0. Perhaps help advance society to the next level? Instead what we got were some 1960's hippies with an enhanced ability to smell and an inconclusive ending.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    Darwin's Children is not compelling. The characters fall flat in Darwin's Children, just as they did in Darwin's Radio. Darwin's Children is essentially the same characters grown older. They face issues with integrating into society and with government running amok with fear and power; there is no new science introduced and there is nothing novel or compelling about the integration or fear issues (tragic, yes; compelling, no). I think the first book is absolutely worth reading; I would skip Darwi Darwin's Children is not compelling. The characters fall flat in Darwin's Children, just as they did in Darwin's Radio. Darwin's Children is essentially the same characters grown older. They face issues with integrating into society and with government running amok with fear and power; there is no new science introduced and there is nothing novel or compelling about the integration or fear issues (tragic, yes; compelling, no). I think the first book is absolutely worth reading; I would skip Darwin's Children altogether unless you really connected with the characters in the first book and want to find out what happens next.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kae Cheatham

    Second of a series OVER WRITTEN, with pages of conversation that aren't important and characters who could have been left out. The head hopping (jumping of POV) was quite distracting. No flow. I never could relate to anyone. Read it all, as an exercise in determination. Second of a series OVER WRITTEN, with pages of conversation that aren't important and characters who could have been left out. The head hopping (jumping of POV) was quite distracting. No flow. I never could relate to anyone. Read it all, as an exercise in determination.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Veronica

    I was very disappointed with this novel. I found it too long and filled with complex scientific ideas that I really didn't understand. At the end, I found that it made no difference and a simpler story would have been more enjoyable. I was very disappointed with this novel. I found it too long and filled with complex scientific ideas that I really didn't understand. At the end, I found that it made no difference and a simpler story would have been more enjoyable.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Excellent read! I was really on the edge of my seat through many parts of the book. Greg Bear adds such intelligence to his books but in a way that readers new to Sci-Fi can grasp.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mal Warwick

    The tagline on the cover of Darwin’s Children reads “Evolution has changed the face of the world.” In the sequel to his brilliant 1999 novel, Darwin’s Radio, Greg Bear now spells out the ways in which a dramatic event in the evolution of the human race has laid the foundation for a posthuman future. Not through human agency such as implanted chips or genetic editing, but naturally, by means of an evolutionary process that responds to the growing stress in the human environment. While it may be po The tagline on the cover of Darwin’s Children reads “Evolution has changed the face of the world.” In the sequel to his brilliant 1999 novel, Darwin’s Radio, Greg Bear now spells out the ways in which a dramatic event in the evolution of the human race has laid the foundation for a posthuman future. Not through human agency such as implanted chips or genetic editing, but naturally, by means of an evolutionary process that responds to the growing stress in the human environment. While it may be possible to read Darwin’s Children as a standalone effort, I don’t recommend it. If Bear’s thinking on this subject intrigues you, start with his Nebula-Award-winning novel, Darwin’s Radio. Be careful. If you do opt to read that book first, this review will spoil the story for you. If you haven’t already read my assessment of Darwin’s Radio, begin there. Four characters confronting the posthuman future In Darwin’s Children, the cast of characters shifts. CDC Director Mark Augustine has been sidelined by bureaucratic infighting and plays only a minor role. Of the four original principals, three continue to bring focus to the story: Kaye Lang Rafelson, Mitch Rafelson, and Christopher Dicken. And now Kaye and Mitch’s eleven-year-old daughter, Stella Nova Rafelson, enters center stage. She is one of the first wave of SHEVA children demonized and incarcerated by a terrified and vengeful government. And it is really she who is the protagonist of this sequel to the story in which she was born. “I am not human” Darwin’s Children opens at “SHEVA + 12,” or a dozen years since the emergence of the SHEVA virus in America. Stella is eleven and on the run with her parents. The draconian forces of the Right-Wing government, riding a wave of fear and hatred fanned by hysterical media reports, is rounding up all the SHEVA children. (“The last thing Mark Augustine had ever imagined he would be doing was running a network of concentration camps.”) And in the midst of the chaos, “For the first time, Stella had formally proclaimed: ‘I am not human.'” As the story proceeds, we encounter increasing detail about the many changes that make this claim credible. And despite everything—despite the widespread abortions of SHEVA fetuses, the massacres of SHEVA children by terrified people, and all the efforts of governments everywhere to suppress the growth of the new species—Stella is far from alone. “Worldwide, in two waves separated by four years, three million new children had been born.” Thus we gain our first glimpse of the posthuman future. Genus homo has taken another step forward. The book’s Part Two is set at “SHEVA + 15,” and Part Three at “SHEVA + 18.” Thus, we follow Stella’s life until she reaches the age of seventeen. Then, she has found her way into a community of young people like herself. Meanwhile, we observe Kaye and Mitch’s frantic efforts to relate to their ever-stranger daughter as the posthuman future begins to emerge. “An infinitely devious shell” As the end of the story approaches, Kaye reflects, “Nearly all her life, [she] had believed that understanding biology, the way life worked, would lead to understanding herself, to enlightenment. Knowing how life worked would explain it all: origins, ends, and everything in between. But the deeper she dug and the more she understood, the less satisfying it seemed, all clever mechanism; wonders, no doubt, enough to mesmerize her for a thousand lifetimes, but really nothing more than an infinitely devious shell.” And she concludes, “Nature is a bitch goddess.” About the science in this novel In a section labeled “Caveats” at the conclusion of Darwin’s Children, Bear writes, “Much of the science in this novel is still controversial. . . However, all of the speculations found here are supported, to one degree or another, by research published in texts and in respected scientific journals. I have gone to great pains to solicit scientific criticism and make corrections where experts feel I strayed over the line.” And he adds, “The theological speculations presented here are also based on empirical evidence, personal and culled from a number of key books.”

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