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Darwin's Radio (Darwin's Radio #1)
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Darwin's Radio

(Darwin's Radio #1)

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  12,564 ratings  ·  714 reviews
Molecular biologist Kaye Lang's theory--that ancient diseases encoded in the DNA of humans can return to life--has become a chilling reality. The shocking evidence: a "virus-hunter" has tracked down a flu-like disease that kills expectant mothers and their offspring.
Paperback, 448 pages
Published March 4th 2003 by Ballantine Books (first published May 4th 1999)
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3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  12,564 ratings  ·  714 reviews

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May 22, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
So I keep on reading Bear novels, feeling disappointed, waiting a while, then rinse and repeat.

This time I've clarified why I am so ambivalent about this guy: he has fascinating ideas then writes dull books about them. The premise here is an extreme example. Our "junk" DNA turns out to be a collection of emergency rapid-response evolutionary accelerators - and the emergency response has just been triggered. Cue mysterious pregnancies, peculiar facial mutations and a really big scientific mystery
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The first time I read this I felt horrified and dazed for weeks. I still consider this a masterpiece of horror/sci-fi. The characters are somewhat memorable, but more memorable is their pain; indeed, the pain of the whole world was felt in the back of my mouth, preparing it rise up from my stomach, up the pipe, out the maw, to hang onto my lip and smack me thrice on my face, wink, and then jump off to slither under the door-jam and horrify someone else.

Don't get me wrong, this is a pure sci-fi n
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
An excellent idea sadly marred by poor writing, the impression is that Greg Bear came up with a great idea for a novel, researched it and then decided to tell everyone look at what I have learned.
The main problem is the there is a distinct clumpiness to the story a few pages of story followed by look at what I learned today, a rushed ending just as the book begins to take shape.

It borderlines on being turgid. If we look at Andy Weir's The Martian, which is undeniably a well written novel, it co
3.5 stars. Excellent concept and great science highlight this very good "hard" SF story.

Winner: Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction Novel
Nominee: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel
Nominee: Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel
Nominee: John W. Campbell Award for Best Science Fiction Novel
Oct 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: started, fiction
An interesting look at what might possibly be the next stage of evolution. Greg Bear's Hugo nominee is a wonderful mix of scientific and political thriller as well as a study of human reactions and relationships. Beautifully laid out and written in an interesting manner.

After I finished this book I sat back and thought, my god, I know all about viruses and diseases and retroviruses now. Greg Bear does not dumb down the science to make sure his audience gets it, instead he explains everything sev
Mina Villalobos
Sep 21, 2008 rated it liked it
The first 200 pages or so of this book are incredibly engaging and interesting. I wasn't put off by the science talk, though there was too much of it -someone who truly understood it would probably find a lot of holes in it, and someone who didn't get it beyond the basics didn't really need to read so extensively about it- but after the first half, the book starts taking a plunge south. I stopped caring about the characters at some point in the middle, the female lead turning into quite a trope ...more
Oct 20, 2014 rated it did not like it
As warned by a friend, the ideas here are pretty fascinating -- the book might be fifteen years behind in terms of science, but there's nothing inherently ridiculous about the idea based on the scientific knowledge of the time -- but the actual narrative is pretty deadly boring. Some of the writing is just... why would you let that slip past, editor? Hard SF isn't just about the cool ideas: there has to be some element of execution there as well, or there's no point in writing it as a novel -- t ...more
Aug 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. The author obviously researched the subject matter thoroughly, and there was a good balance of science and engaging plot line. I found it to be an easy and fun read, and I will definitely be reading more books by this author in the future.
Aug 13, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: science-fiction
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Dec 28, 2008 rated it liked it
A CDC disease chaser discovers a virus that seems to be asymptomatic in everyone but pregnant women, and mass graves in Georgia (the country) and a newly discovered family of forty thousand year old mummies suggest this isn’t the first outbreak. And our heroes -- that CDC disease hound, a successful biologist, and an anthropologist with questionable ethics -- begin to suspect it isn’t an outbreak at all.

Okay, so it’s not actually a ‘read a textbook instead’ science fiction book. I mean, the scie
Sep 07, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of hard science fiction
Shelves: sci-fi
Darwin’s Radio is a pleasure for someone who loves hard science fiction, as I do. Here’s the premise: SHEVA, a retrovirus long-buried in our genes, suddenly awakens and begins to attack pregnant women, forcing them to miscarry after three months. But that’s just the beginning – after the miscarriage, these same women spontaneously become pregnant again, this time developing a fetus that’s not quite human. The federal government, led by the science establishment, after first denying the truth, th ...more
Kathy Bell
Mar 06, 2011 rated it liked it
Actually 3.5, were that possible on GoodReads.

I really enjoy science fiction with lots of science, and especially evolutionary concepts, so this book appealed to me immensely in theory. In practice, I found myself skipping huge amounts of text so I could move the plot along. The science behind the concept was intriguing and well developed, but the rest of the story dragged on longer than I thought necessary. For those who like their scifi with indepth descriptions of every character and their ev
Althea Ann
Jun 09, 2010 rated it it was ok
A fast-paced, page-turning sci-fi/medical thriller, with an acknowledged nod to Robin Cook's "Outbreak." However, the interesting (although improbable) scientific ideas in the book lift it above the run-of the-mill bestseller.
An unusual discovery is made - two Neandertal mummies, with a seemingly normal, Homo Sapiens infant. Is the child theirs?
Meanwhile, a new transmissible retrovirus is discovered - although it might seem to be nothing more than a cold, one of its side effects in pregnant wome
Rachel (Kalanadi)
Nov 21, 2016 marked it as did-not-finish
Shelves: winners-nebulas
Wrong book at a very wrong time for me, but given the bit about mass miscarriages and deformed fetuses and etc. I doubt I would want to stomach this during even a good time.
NC Stone
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Nicely done hard SciFi. It went a big heavy on the data dumps regarding the behaviors of genes and other aspects of inherited traits, disease, and evolution but the plot and characters were strong enough to keep the pages turning.
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
second read - 1 August 2002 - ***** Darwin's Radio is a 1999 science fiction novel by Greg Bear. It won the Nebula Award in 2000 for Best Novel and the 2000 Endeavour Award. It was also nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2000. It was followed by a sequel, "Darwin's Children", in 2003. In the novel, a new form of endogenous retrovirus has emerged, SHEVA. It controls human evolution by rapidly evolving the next generation while in the womb, leading to speciation. The novel follows seve ...more
Neal Wilson
Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fascinating hard Sci-Fi speculation on what a new state of evolution might be like. Parts of his microbiology descriptions were a bit heavy but the plot was interesting enough you could breeze through the overly complicated passages and easily stay with the story. I see there's a sequel but I'm thinking I don't feel the need to see anything else happen with this particular story.
Apr 08, 2014 rated it did not like it
Oh man. This was basically a DNF, as I did a lot of skimming.

I picked this up expecting a sort of virus-thriller (like Contagion, or the Andromeda Strain, I imagine). And besides, it was about things hiding in our genes and I have a keen academic interest in evolution.

But I could NOT get through this.

Firstly, the science. Bear actually started out solidly, talking about lysogenic viruses and how our genome could contain parts of these viruses. Okay, so far so good. Suddenly they could be activat
Sep 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
This sci-fi "thriller" never really worked for me. The basic premise -- there is a virus that allows the human genetic code to undergo a massive change to a higher lifeform -- provides a reasonable basis for the novel, but as a story it never comes together.

The details of the new virus slowly emerge, as more people become infected and scientists start to study it. Instead of building dramatically in the novel, it gets slowly dished out with enough hints as to where it is going that I started to
Jul 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
I've been trying to figure out if I've read this one before, or if it just seems familiar because I've read the second book in the series. I think I remember the second book being a lot more engaging, perhaps because there are a lot of very smart children in it, and who doesn't enjoy little kids showing up adults?

This start is a little drier, and it's very science heavy, so if you're not into DNA and genetics, you might want to skip this one. I have a passing interest, and I was decently able to
Jun 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book could have been considerably better, but the execution was just way off. The idea is interesting, but has significant overtones of the misunderstanding that evolution is in some way directed towards improvement - more really needs to be done to emphasize why this is not a problem, otherwise you're going to lose me in magical thinking.

The other issue is that the story and the characters don't seem particularly compelling, and the whole book kinda goes nowhere. I found jarring (view spoi
Jul 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
I liked it. I started it as an audiobook for a long weekend drive up to Eugene and I liked it enough to check out the book and finish reading it once I got back-I thought about finishing it through the cds but that would have taken too long and I HAD to know what would happen. It's really like two books in one. The first part has lots of science and a slower pace, then the book starts to go down an entirely different and unexpected path, raising some interesting ethical issues along the way. The ...more
This is the second book I've read this year about the evolution of humanity, though this one was a little less apocalyptic than The Girl with All the Gifts. Though I didn't find the book itself compelling, the topic was and reading this did inspire me to want to read on to discover what happens to Darwin's Children.
Nov 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Vaguely scifi...a current day medical science intrigue. Cool idea. The story is really a thriller about the world's reaction to scary disease-like symptoms resulting in aborted babies and immaculate conceptions, which has occurred many times before in human history, and even before. The main characters are magnificently drawn; I really cared for them or at least could empathize with those I did not like. There were no cardboard cutout placeholders. The writing was magnificent, even if it wasn't ...more
Mar 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
If I could give half stars, this would be a 2 1/2. It’s ok. The premise is interesting, but the story itself is disjointed and unclear. There doesn’t seem to be any cohesive story. There are interesting ideas strewn about, but this could have been handled in a lot fewer pages.

I’ll still read the sequel. I’d like to know where Bear was headed.
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: guardian-1000, owned
4* for this audiobook edition, 3* for the book itself. It probably deserves better than that but the politics, while scarily believable, formed too much of the book for me without giving me the feeling of a complete picture. ...more
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fascinating read on discovery of the next step forward for homo sapiens. And it's not pretty. Good characters
and hard SciFi without getting too deep into the weeds.
Roddy Williams
‘Darwin’s Radio: the missing link thriller

The discovery of a mass grave of mutated villagers in the Caucusus; a mummified prehistoric family revealed by ice-thaw high in the Alps; a mysterious new disease that strikes only pregnant women, resulting in miscarriage – three disparate facts that will converge into one science-shattering truth.

So-called junk genes that have slept in our DNA for millions of years are waking up; the women who miscarry become spontaneously pregnant again without sexua
Davyne DeSye
Nov 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Love this book!

First, and despite it being a “hard” science fiction with lots of science, it is very much centered on the characters – I love that. I read to get into a character’s head – to feel their fear, frustration, happiness, lust, pain – and this book gives all of that.

I also enjoy when the science in science fiction feels real and is made interesting. The science in this book focuses on genetics and biological evolution which are topics I’ve always been interested in, and it is presented
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Greg Bear is one of the world's leading hard SF authors. He sold his first short story, at the age of fifteen, to Robert Lowndes's Famous Science Fiction.

A full-time writer, he lives in Washington State with his family. He is married to Astrid Anderson Bear. He is the son-in-law of Poul Anderson. They are the parents of two children, Erik and Alexandra.

Other books in the series

Darwin's Radio (2 books)
  • Darwin's Children (Darwin's Radio #2)
“For years I’ve been waiting for nature to react to our environmental bullshit, tell us to stop overpopulating and depleting resources, to shut up and stop messing around and just die. Species-level apoptosis. I think this could be the final warning—a real species killer.” 0 likes
“In a world of fragile self-justification, the truth made no one happy.” 0 likes
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