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Darwin's Radio | [Greg Bear]

Darwin's Radio

In a cave high in the Alps, a renegade anthropologist discovers a frozen Neanderthal couple with a Homo sapiens baby. Meanwhile, in southern Russia, the U.N. investigation of a mysterious mass grave is cut short. One of the investigators, molecular biologist Kaye Lang, returns home to the U.S. to learn that her theory on human retroviruses has been verified with the discovery of SHEVA, a virus that has slept in our DNA for millions of years and is now waking up.
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Publisher's Summary

Greg Bear's fiction ingeniously combines cutting-edge science and unforgettable characters. It has won multiple Hugo and Nebula Awards and choruses of critical acclaim. Now, with Darwin's Radio, Bear creates a nonstop thriller swirling with provocative ideas about the next step of human evolution.

In a cave high in the Alps, a renegade anthropologist discovers a frozen Neanderthal couple with a Homo sapiens baby. Meanwhile, in southern Russia, the U.N. investigation of a mysterious mass grave is cut short. One of the investigators, molecular biologist Kaye Lang, returns home to the U.S. to learn that her theory on human retroviruses has been verified with the discovery of SHEVA, a virus that has slept in our DNA for millions of years and is now waking up. How are these seemingly disparate events connected? Kaye Lang and her colleagues must race against a genetic time bomb to find out.

Darwin's Radio pulses with intelligent speculation, international adventure, and political intrigue as it explores timeless human themes. George Guidall's masterful performance heightens the excitement and keeps you enthralled until the final fascinating word.

©2000 Greg Bear; (P)2000 Recorded Books

What the Critics Say

  • Winner, 2000 Nebula Award - Best Novel

"Centered on well-developed, highly believable figures who are working scientists and full-fledged human beings, this fine novel is sure to please anyone who appreciates literate, state-of-the-art SF." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (637 )
5 star
 (151)
4 star
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3.7 (279 )
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3 star
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1 star
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Story
3.9 (276 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
 (67)
2 star
 (12)
1 star
 (8)
Performance
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  •  
    Paul Krasner 01-04-14 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    357
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    "Really good science fiction"

    I really enjoyed this book. In my opinion, there are different kinds of science fiction: the futuristic, usually filled with tons of new gadgets, the war genre, and the biologic type. This is the biologic type and my favorite. The most famous and, probably best representative, is Michael Crichton books. This book comes very close to one of his books but not nearly as well written. However, the premise is compelling: That the Human genome contains the ability to change due to environmental forces in order to allow it survival. This, of course, borders on Lamarkianism but recent discoveries in genetics gives its more credibility. Many people don’t accept the premise that the living body is really only a vehicle for the genes and a book like this will turn them off. The book was excellent because it wove together several different controversial themes: the politics of disease, the status of humanity at the present time, xenophobia, the inability of governments to deal effectively with change, human rights and the place in science in government. All these are topics are worthy of a book and, the fact that Bear did so successfully, is to be praised. I disagree with most of the negative reviews and fear that their opinions were shaped by the daunting science explicated during the story in order to provide credibility. I have a high understanding of biology and, myself had to re-listen several times to these sections, in order to fully comprehend the meaning. When I look at the status of our world today, there are times that I would hope for a genetic change to remove the unbelievable hated, conflict negativity that seems to pervade almost every aspect of our lives. In my opinion, if a change doesn’t come soon, the homo sapiens branch of the tree of life will end up being a withered jin and another branch will continue to grow.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andre Ithaca, NY, United States 10-02-07
    Andre Ithaca, NY, United States 10-02-07 Member Since 2003
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    "Superb science fiction"

    The plot is clever, the science (although an invention) seems almost close to feasible, the reactions of human beings really accurate. The best science fiction story I've read for many years.

    12 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sue Amarillo, TX, United States 03-07-12
    Sue Amarillo, TX, United States 03-07-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Don't have to be a biologist to enjoy!"
    Any additional comments?

    Loved the book! At first, I almost gave up listening, but then decided to put my faith in the author - I was sure he wouldn't tell a story that required the reader to know all about genes, DNA, chromosomes, etc. So I decided to just listen to the story, and pick up the few facts that I could remember or that might be relevant to the story. Then I realized that was exactly what I needed to just enjoy the story - which is great! Don't let the technical jargon and explanations about genes, DNA, or chromosomes scare you off this book - you don't have to remember everything they tell you about them (but it's very interesting to learn a little about how they work). It's a great read - I would highly recommend it!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dc Englewood, OH, USA 03-24-08
    Dc Englewood, OH, USA 03-24-08 Member Since 2001
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    "excellent read"

    I ask 3 things of every novel I read: that it capture and excite me, that it entertain me and that it educate me. "Darwin's Radio" gets 4 stars in every catagory. Should you ask yourself during the course of your read, "is this feasible?" Think of this - if in 1980 you asked could there be a world wide network that connected every computer, or a cellphone with a 100 gig hard drive that was part of that network, or that the Soviet Union would collapse within a decade....none of these things would have seemed feasible either

    13 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bruce Knoxville, MD, United States 01-05-08
    Bruce Knoxville, MD, United States 01-05-08 Member Since 2007
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    "Infectious"

    I enjoyed this novel very much. Living near Fort Detrick, MD, I think about viral epidemics from time to time. My one complaint about the book is that Neanderthal Man and Cro-Magnon Man may have been able to interbreed. Also, to the best of my knowledge, Neanderthal Man left no evidence of funeral customs. I would have liked to have had those two issues discussed in the story since it was as much about pre-historic man as modern virology. As always, the narrator was excellent.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Gilbert, AZ, United States 10-12-11
    William Gilbert, AZ, United States 10-12-11 Member Since 2011
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    "Very good story. Very original"

    I really liked this story. Very original and well performed. I would highly recommend it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dean Brown Austin, Texas United States 07-13-11
    Dean Brown Austin, Texas United States 07-13-11 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting concept but brutally slow"

    Slow and repetitive.... The concept had potential but I nearly abandoned the book multiple times--something I never do. The author seems to be trying to build character, allow introspection, etc., but the writing is just too weak to pull off the strategy.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer NORTHLAKE, TX, United States 10-03-12
    Amazon Customer NORTHLAKE, TX, United States 10-03-12 Member Since 2008

    reader of books

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Lack of excitement"

    Well, I did like the story concept but for me the "big reveal" just did not satisfy me. Also, it seemed to drag on the last fourth of the book. Having said that, I have no plans to read he second one.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Springfield, IL, United States 05-14-12
    Chris Springfield, IL, United States 05-14-12 Member Since 2010
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    "A huge let-down"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    At first look this looked like an exciting book about the results of theoretical genetics gone wrong. The science behind it was facinating and well thought out, but the story itself is drier than a popcorn fart. Most of the book consists of scientist sitting around calmly over-explaining technical details and discussing ethical and legal concerns brought up by a genetic apocolypse. Meanwhile the fact that the human race is ending and society is falling to pieces around them is treated as a footnote. The story presents plenty of opportunity for emotion and human drama but instead spends the majority of its time slogging through tedious and largely unnecessary dialogue. I'm not a big fan of action stories but this book seriously needed something. It was like reading a text book except that by the time I was through it I hadn't learned anything. It's a great idea that never gets off the ground. Mind-numbingly dull. Skip it.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Greg Bear again?

    At this point, it seems unlikely.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    He added very little character or inflection. It was difficult to distinguish one characters dialogue from anothers, leading to a complete train wreck of boredom in a largely dialogue-driven book.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    The science seemed like an exciting notion and even seemed believable, but the the lack of humanity and story just made it like sitting through a 18 hour long genetics lecture. While there is nothing wrong with that, it's not what I expect from a work of fiction.


    Any additional comments?

    Don't waste your credits on this one.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rob Gilbert, AZ, United States 02-24-12
    Rob Gilbert, AZ, United States 02-24-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Medicore Story Ruined By Awful Narrator"

    The description intrigued me, so I bought the book. However, had I realized that it was read by George Guidall, I would not have. This is the same guy that reads all the Brad Thor and Vince Flynn books, and he's awful. Actually, awful only begins to describe his performance. An old guy with too much spit in his mouth, all of his characters sound the same, making it difficult to follow the story. He has four basic voices: male, female, Southern male and Southern female. His foreign accents helped in distinguishing those characters, but otherwise, they all sounded like an excessively-jowled old guy with too much saliva production. Additionally, his speech inflection is odd, and exactly the same for every character. I think the voice characterization for the male protagonist changed two or three times during the book.

    The story itself was average. It sounded like the author couldn't tell if he wanted to write a political thriller or a legal battle or a bio-med story or something that could be made into a movie for the LMN network. Some of this tediousness was caused by the narrator (did I mention he sucked?), but looking past that, it took far too long to tell this story. It dragged in places for no apparent reason, as if the telling of mundaneness was the purpose for writing the story in the first place.

    The description of this book makes it sound a lot more intriguing than it is and should have been half as long as it is. It's not an action or adventure story. It's basically a medical "thriller" with a lot of cruft thrown in.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
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