Bear, Greg Darwin's Radio

ISBN 13: 9780006511380

Darwin's Radio

3.67 avg rating
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9780006511380: Darwin's Radio

A terrifying disease, or the next step in human evolution? Three scientists must battle to find the truth in this heart-stopping technothriller.

Mitch Rafelson makes a major discovery high in the Alps – the preserved bodies of a Neanderthal family with a human child.

Kaye Lang investigates a mass grave in the Caucasus – the bodies are mutated.

Christopher Dicken tracks a mysterious flu-like disease that causes pregnant women to miscarry.

Together, these three scientists discover that so-called junk genes, dormant in our DNA for millions of years, are waking up. A signal from Darwin’s radio has triggered the next step in human evolution.
The women who miscarry become inexplicably pregnant again. However, this time they are carriers of Homo sapiens novus. But there is mass panic, official denial, draconian measures against the terrible ‘disease’. Only Mitch, Kaye and Dicken can solve the evolutionary puzzle that will determine the future of the human race, if a future exists at all.

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Review:

Greg Bear notoriously reworks traditional SF themes in his own special way. His first success, Blood Music (1985), features an intelligent plague which seems destructive but eventually recreates humanity in new, transcendent form--echoing Arthur C. Clarke's rough-hewn 1953 classic Childhood's End. Darwin's Radio revisits this territory but foregrounds scientific, medical and political reactions to disaster; it's reminiscent of a Michael Crichton technothriller. The menace is a "new" virus, SHEVA, which is in fact very old--embedded in a ancient human DNA sequences and now emerging as "Herod's 'Flu", which in pregnant women always forces miscarriage. Chillingly, US health aauthorities first see this threat as something to boost funding, while conservative scientists suppress research into the bizarre reality of what's happening. Evidence from Neanderthal remains and Stalin's mass graves hints that SHEVA is no disease but evolution in action. Human genomes everywhere, linked by the subtle network of "Darwin's radio", are activating Plan B: the creation of a new species. Then, with the world racked by panic, riots, death cults and martial law, SHEVA begins to mutate ... Tense stuff, though some biological info-dumps are tough going, and it's awkwardly paced towards the end when nine months are needed for the biologist heroine's own pregnancy, leading to... but that would be telling. This is a fearfully plausible scientific thriller. -- David L Langford

Review:

‘Whatever Bear touches turns epic… awesome momentum… rarely have I felt so much the presence of great events’
The Times

‘He has a soaring control of the language and dreams that belong to the visionary… Bear’s books map the future. They are required reading’
The Encylopaedia of Science Fiction

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