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Darwin's Children Hardcover – April 1, 2003

3.1 out of 5 stars 101 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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

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.

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Product Details

  • Series: Bear, Greg
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; First Edition edition (April 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345448359
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345448354
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,599,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First off, don't even consider reading this novel before reading its predecessor "Darwin's Radio"; there is simply too much plot and science to attempt to pick up without the benefit of reading the first novel. Secondly, while there is some serious science discussed in both books, the reader shouldn't feel that a lack of formal biology education will prevent them from understanding and enjoying these books (although it certainly won't hurt). Bear does an excellent job of working the necessary science into the flow of the narrative, and he even provides a fairly comprehensive glossary at the end of the book.

That said, I found 'Darwin's Children" to be every bit as engaging and every bit as frustrating as "Darwin's Radio". The premise, that a new branch of human evolution is beginning, is an intriguing one, and the idea of following this new species as it grows to maturity has the potential to be fascinating. And to a degree, it is; unfortunately, Bear all to frequently takes the reader down literary dead-ends, and makes temporal jumps just when the story is getting interesting.

First the good, though, and there is plenty. To begin, Bear's characters are a step above the first novel. That's not to say that the were lacking previously, but the author has taken this opportunity to instill them with a deep pathos that is truly memorable. The characters, operating under horribly strenuous circumstances represent the full range of human emotion. Moreover, their philosophies are well defined and realistic; they absolutely fit the situation at hand, and nicely mirror historical precedent. Secondly, Bear has created a dystopian near future that is all too believable. He draws nicely on the subtle but pervasive daily fear of the post 9/11 world to create a U.S.
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By A Customer on April 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I'd enjoyed Greg Bear's fisrt novel in this series, Darwin's Radio, tremendously - evolution, physical anthropology and neaderthals, with a new race of humans being born. What's not to like?
In Darwin's Children, the first generation of new humans are growing up, and there's enormous government tension engendered by their presence, the fear of them as a contagious virus that needs to be contained, etc. (In the real world, I suspect the response to 'new' humans would be far more savage and deadly, but perhaps the author didn't want to go there.)
Mitch and Kay, and their new human daughter Stella, are key protagonists in this novel, but not the only players: every chapter in the book switches - irritatingly - from one character point of view to another.
As is so often the case with science fiction, the science becomes the protagonist, with the human characters often little more than mouthpieces for lengthy disserations on various scientifica topics - in this book for example, evolutonary and viral biology (though Bear provides a glossary at the back for the jargon-challenged).
I suppose this would have all been fine, except nothing really happens in Darwin's Children. There are tensions. Stella grows up. Mitch and Kay have relationship issues. There's a very touching archaeological find of mixed races buried in 30,000 years of old lava (CAN two races of humanoids work together???). Oh, and Kay has an epiphany - which is all very interesting - but ultimately has little bearing on either the story or the development of Kay's character.
In short, after rushing out to buy the book in hardcover, I was left feeling flat. Perhaps this was a book Bear didn't want to write anyway - but his publisher made him....
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Format: Hardcover
I usually like Greg Bear's work, but "Darwin's Children" was surprisingly dull. A lot of talk, not many new ideas (just rehash of the genetic stuff in "Darwin's Radio"), uninvolving characters, and a strangely irrelevant Divine Intervention. Plowing through this book felt like a tedious homework assignment. It's a case of competent storytelling without much to say.
I was also a little annoyed at an undertone stuck solidly in A.D. 2003: Bear takes swipes at Fox News, the Evil Republicans, American voters as sheep. Hey, I'm a Democrat, too, but I see enough of this political sniping in the real world. The best science fiction weaves social commentary into the plot and assumes the reader is intelligent enough to make their own comparisons to current events.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Greg Bear is one of my favorite SF authors but I must say Darwin's Children is a real let down. Darwin's Children, the sequel to Darwin's Radio, continues the story of a species of hominids born as result of genetic mutations caused by retroviruses. The theory behind the story is that great leaps in human evolution have occurred suddenly as a result of these mutations - the first being a leap from Neanderthals to present day humans in the distant past. The story's focal point is Stella Nova Rafelson who was born in the previous novel. Society, frightened by these new offspring create what are essentially concentration camps for these children and all are required to be placed in them. Stella's parents, Kaye and Mitch, have been hiding out from the authorities but are eventually caught. We see how society treats these children and how they interact with one another throughout the novel as Bear attempts to explore a new species and conjectures about what the future holds for their assimilation into and obviously in the long term, absorption of the human species into something new.

The key problem with the novel is that the characters are not that believable and a bit rigid. The story really meanders and gets very tedious and frankly doesn't really go anywhere until the end of the story. Kaye Rafelson, who has an "epiphany" or religious experience, is a dead-end thread of the story and poorly explored.

I'm a bit disappointed in this novel.
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