, 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
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.