Fear and hatred of the virus children have made them a persecuted underclass, quarantined by the government, targeted by bounty hunters, and demonized by the population. But pockets of resistance have formed among those opposed to treating the children like dangerous diseases.
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 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, waiting for the opportunity to strike the next blow in their escalating war to preserve "humankind" at any cost.
© 2003 Greg Bear; (P)2003 Books on Tape, Inc.
"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." (Publishers Weekly)
"Top-shelf science fiction, thrilling and intellectually charged." (Amazon.com)
I like Bear's books, and I am sure that I would enjoy this one, but the narrator is dismal. He singsongs through the whole thing, as if he is bored of the story. It doesn't matter what he is saying, the cadence never changes, and it certainly doesn't reflect (let alone enhance) the story. He sounds petulant, like a father reading a book to a child he desperately wants to put to sleep.
Is it just this book? No. I made the mistake of picking up another by this same narrator (Paul of Dune - don't do it!) I lasted about 5 minutes in that one. It took about 90 minutes in this one before I just couldn't take it any more. I think the book has a lot of promise, but not in this format.
This may be a good book (Greg Bear's books usually are) but the narrator gave so many wrong and obnoxious inflections to the words and sentences, that I couldn't stand to listen to the whole thing. Odd, because I've heard Scott Brick read other books where he doesn't do this. Sad that he did here, and that the director, or producer let it go through. It ruins the book.
The Book Conjurer
I've read other Bear (Blood Music, and Forge of God many years ago) and remember them fondly, so I was overjoyed when I found his newer material on Audible. However, despite the fact that the central idea is interesting, I was deeply disappointed by Darwin's Children.
First, the science is questionable. Bear gets some minor details about retrotransposons wrong, but what really bugged me was the SHEVA-infected women who become virus factories (a hypothesis that's sure to fail the parsimony test). Finally, Bear seems to believe the Victorian notion that evolution is a progression towards perfection.
Sometimes inconsistencies in Bear's characters are so irritating that they interrupt the flow of the story. For instance, Kaye does nothing by weep in the car outside the house where Stella has been abducted; most mothers would charge in to save their child. And Mitch, who used to be some kind of anthropologist, says that he respects Native Americans so much, he's dug up their sacred gravesites.
In all, this book was either a hurried or sloppy effort that could have been improved with the help of a good editor and fact checker.
The second part of Darwin's Radio, the book is very timely in the exploration of US Government Agency's response to new dangers real and imagined. With a hopeful message of hope that a people caught up in fear of the unknown regain their footing and return to the values of our founding fathers.
This book has an interesting premise. It follows a long line of other titles that have a "Me against the World" theme. It is definitely a good listen since it is well read. I found the book a bit uneven in parts, but that is why they call them unabridged versions.
I got into this book with the synopsis sounding interesting. I, however, found this to be a thinly diguised effort to criticise the current government with the story line somewhere between responses to AIDS and the war against Islamic Terrorists. If you liked " An Inconvenient Truth", you will probaly fall for this one too.
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