Greg Bear's Nebula Award-winning novel, Darwin's Radio, painted a chilling portrait of humankind on the threshold of a radical leap in evolution-one that would alter our species forever. Now Bear continues his provocative tale of the human race confronted by an uncertain future, where "survival of the fittest" takes on astonishing and controversial new dimensions. DARWIN'S CHILDREN 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.
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. (Apr. 1) Forecast: An eight-city author tour, plus national print advertising in both mainstream and SF/fantasy publications, should launch this into bestseller territory. Look for further award nominations for Bear, as well as the forthcoming Warner Bros. movie based on his novel The Forge of God. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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June 01, 2004
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Excerpt from Darwin's Children by Greg Bear
Spotsylvania County, Virginia
Morning lay dark and quiet around the house. Mitch Rafelson stood with coffee cup in hand on the back porch, dopey from just three hours of sleep. Stars still pierced the sky. A few persistent moths and bugs buzzed around the porch light. Raccoons had been at the garbage can in back, but had left, whickering and scuffling, hours ago, discouraged by lengths of chain.
The world felt empty and new.
Mitch put his cup in the kitchen sink and returned to the bedroom. Kaye lay in bed, still asleep. He adjusted his tie in the mirror above the dresser. Ties never looked right on him. He grimaced at the way his suit hung on his wide shoulders, the gap around the collar of his white shirt, the length of sleeve visible beyond the cuff of his coat.
There had been a row the night before. Mitch and Kaye and Stella, their daughter, had sat up until two in the morning in the small bedroom trying to talk it through. Stella was feeling isolated. She wanted, needed to be with young people like her. It was a reasonable position, but they had no choice.
Not the first time, and likely not the last. Kaye always approached these events with studied calm, in contrast to Mitch's evasion and excuses. Of course they were excuses. He had no answers to Stella's questions, no real response to her arguments. They both knew she ultimately needed to be with her own kind, to find her own way.
Finally, too much, Stella had stomped off and slammed the door to her room. Kaye had started crying. Mitch had held her in bed and she had gradually slipped into twitching sleep, leaving him staring at the darkened ceiling, tracking the play of lights from a truck grumbling down the country road outside, wondering, as always, if the truck would come up their drive, come for their daughter, come to claim bounty or worse.