Darwin's Radio (Darwin Series #1)

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Greg Bear's powerfully written, brilliantly inventive novels combine cutting-edge science and unforgettable characters, illuminating dazzling new technologies -- and their dangers. Now, in Darwin's Radio, Bear draws on state-of-the-art biological and anthropological research to give us an ingeniously plotted thriller that questions everything we believe about human origins and destiny -- as civilization confronts the next terrifying step in evolution.

A mass grave in Russia that...

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2003 Trade Paperback First Trade Edition Very Good+ 0345459814. Trade Paperback in Very Good+ condition. Tightly bound & unmarked with light cover wear. "In Darwin's Radio, Bear ... draws on state-of-the-art biological and anthropological research to give us an ingeniously plotted thriller that questions everything we believe about human origins and destiny--as civilization confronts the next terrifying step in evolution. "; Darwin; Vol. 1; 9.24 X 6.10 X 1 inches; 427 pages. Read more Show Less

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Darwin's Radio (Darwin Series #1)

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Overview

Greg Bear's powerfully written, brilliantly inventive novels combine cutting-edge science and unforgettable characters, illuminating dazzling new technologies -- and their dangers. Now, in Darwin's Radio, Bear draws on state-of-the-art biological and anthropological research to give us an ingeniously plotted thriller that questions everything we believe about human origins and destiny -- as civilization confronts the next terrifying step in evolution.

A mass grave in Russia that conceals the mummified remains of two women, both with child -- and the conspiracy to keep it secret…a major discovery high in the Alps: the preserved bodies of a prehistoric family -- the newborn infant possessing disturbing characteristics…a mysterious disease that strikes pregnant women, resulting in miscarriage. Three disparate facts that will converge into one science-shattering truth.

Molecular biologist Kaye Lang, a specialist in retroviruses, believe that ancient diseases encoded in the DNA of humans can again come to life. But her theory soon becomes chilling reality. For Christopher Dicken -- a "virus hunter" at the Epidemic Intelligence Service -- has pursued an elusive flu-like disease that strikes down expectant mothers and their offspring. The shocking link: something that has slept in our genes for millions of years is waking up.

Greg Bear is the author of twenty-four books, which have been translated into a dozen languages. He has been awarded two Hugos and four Nebulas for his fiction. He was called the "best working writer of hard science fiction" by The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. He lives in Lynwood, Washington.

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Editorial Reviews

Michael A. Goldman
Darwin's Radiois an entertaining, even riveting story, delivered poetically. It portrays scientist as real people, responding to the intense politics of the biomedical world, the funding imperative in public and private sector alike, and the terrifying challenge of a disease that threatens to decimate the human species. It takes a hard look at the challenges faced by a woman scientist with radical ideas, and the excitement of discovering a totally new way of looking at biological evolution. Whether you read it to pass a cold, snowy night by the fire, or to free your mind for the new paradigms that will emerge in the next millennium, I promise you an engaging journey.
Nature
Gary K. Wolfe
...[O]ne of the most intelligent and original thrillers of recent years....[Draws] on a significant amount of current research on evolution, the human genome, and particularly human endogenous retroviruses....[A]ll this is worked out with the kind of inevitability of a good scientific investigation...
Locus
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In the medical/SF tradition of Robin Cook, Bear (Blood Music) spins an outlandish tale of evolutionary apocalypse. In an ice cave in the Swiss Alps, Mitch Rafelson, a renegade paleontologist, discovers a frozen Neanderthal family, including an oddly evolved infant. Meantime, in Soviet Georgia, Kaye Lang, a microbiologist, is investigating a massacre site, where pregnant women were exterminated. These events relate--by way of elliptical scientific reasoning--to a retrovirus being hunted by U.S. government scientist Christopher Dicken. Called SHEVA, it causes genetic mutations in embryos and may also be an agent of evolution, ushering into being a new race of humans. Is it a sexually transmitted disease? Or, more sinister, is it a God-sent means of delivering up a new Adam for the millennium? When Mitch and Kaye fall in love, then decide to bring their own SHEVA baby to full term, they are about to find out the truth firsthand. This complicated tale is read somberly by the deep-voiced Rudnicki, who works hard to keep the sense of drama high through all the mumbo jumbo. Simultaneous release with the Ballantine hardcover. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
The discovery of a sexually transmitted retrovirus heralds a breakthrough in the understanding of the human genotype while spelling potential disaster for the human race--and the beginning of a new phase in evolution. As scientists and researchers wage a desperate battle to unlock the secrets of the virus known as SHEVA, a few far-sighted individuals attempt to cope with the possibility that something entirely new might replace humankind in the evolutionary pattern. Bear (Blood Music) remains in the forefront of speculative sf, displaying a genius for portraying the excitement of hard science through the struggles of his all-too-human characters. Filled with the author's lucid intelligence, this compelling novel should appeal to fans of science mystery as well as to hard-core sf readers. A priority purchase. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Russell Letson
The SF Idea that drives [the story] is an intriguing and nicely presented version of punctuated evolution....Bear is one of a handful of writers in the field who manage both the complexity of the intellectual material and the solidity and depth of feeling required for a "novel of ideas" to be a real novel.
Locus
Robert Killheffer
Darwin's Radio is far superior to other recent thrillers on similar themes, such as John Darnton's Neanderthal, Mark Canter's Ember from the Sun, and Phillip Kerr's Esau, not only because Bear creates fuller, more realistic characters and situations, but also because Bear understands the science behind his ideas more deeply. The implications of dozens of recent discoveries in molecular biology, DNA studies, anthropology, and epidemiology all contribute to the ideas that drive Darwin's Radio, and these roots in the details of current research (not simply the headlines) make Bear's premise more than just the engine of a plot.
Fantsy & Science Fiction Magazine
Kirkus Reviews
Contemporary SF about human evolution, from the author of Dinosaur Summer (1998), etc. In a high Alpine ice cave, dissident archaeologist Mitch Rafelson investigates three mummified corpses, perfectly preserved by the cold. The adults, male and female, appear to be Neanderthals•but their infant's a modern human! In the Republic of Georgia, microbiologist Kaye Lang probes an execution-style mass murder where all the female victims were pregnant. At the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, virus expert Christopher Dicken ponders SHEVA, a human endogenous retrovirus (it•s attached to human chromosomes) that causes miscarriages. SHEVA's ability to evade the body•s normal defenses alarms the Administration bigwigs. Shockingly, SHEVA causes•without sexual contact•a second pregnancy after the initial miscarriage. Kaye and Dicken agree that SHEVA isn't a disease and has been present in the human genome for millions of years. Stranger yet, Mitch's mummies also contain SHEVA, as do the Georgia dead. Mitch and Kaye conclude that SHEVA somehow causes an evolution event, mediating the appearance of a new type of human. But Dicken, jealously watching Kaye pair off with Mitch, switches sides to support the Administration. In this view, SHEVA, by shutting down human reproduction, represents a deadly threat to humanity, justifying extreme countermeasures. With Kaye deliberately pregnant, she and Mitch must become fugitives, while the country's social collapse parallels the beleaguered Administration's ever more savage policies. Absorbing and ingenious, but despite Bear's helpful afterword and glossary you'll need to be biologically literate to follow the argument. (Author tour)
From the Publisher
"A masterpiece . . . Fascinating."
--USA Today

"[A] RIVETING, NEAR-FUTURE THRILLER."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"VINTAGE BEAR . . . [His] characters are as complex as his ideas."
--The Seattle Times

"ABSORBING AND INGENIOUS."
--Kirkus Reviews

"BEAR IS ONE OF OUR VERY BEST, AND MOST INNOVATIVE, SPECULATIVE WRITERS."
--New York Daily News

"A WRITER FOR ANYONE CONCERNED WITH THE HUMAN CONDITION."
--Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"IF ANYONE IS THE COMPLETE MASTER OF THE GRAND-SCALE SF NOVEL, IT'S BEAR."
--Booklist

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345459817
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/4/2003
  • Series: Darwin Series , #1
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.04 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Greg Bear
Greg Bear is the author of twenty-four books, which have been translated into a dozen languages. He has been awarded two Hugos and four Nebulas for his fiction. He was called the "best working writer of hard science fiction" by The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. He is married to Astrid Anderson Bear. They are the parents of two children, Erik and Alexandra. Darwin's Radio is a 2000 Hugo Award nominee.
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Read an Excerpt

They had opened their mercenary little hearts to him back in Salzburg. They were ambitious but not stupid; Tilde was absolutely certain that their find was not just another climber's body. She should know. At fourteen, she had helped carry out two bodies spit loose from the tongues of glaciers. One had been over a hundred years old.

Mitch wondered what would happen if they had found a true Iceman. Tilde, he was sure, would in the long run not know how to handle fame and success. Franco was stolid enough to make do, but Tilde was in her own way fragile. Like a diamond, she could cut steel, but strike her from the wrong angle and she would come to pieces.

Franco might survive fame, but would he survive Tilde? Mitch, despite everything, liked Franco.

"It's another three kilometers," Tilde told him. "Let's go."

Together, she and Franco showed him how to climb the frozen waterfall. "This flows only during midsummer," Franco said. "It is ice for a month now. Understand how it freezes. It is strong down here." He struck the pale gray ice of the pipe organ's massive base with his ax. The ice tinked, spun off a few chips. "But it is verglas, lots of bubbles, higher up--mushy. Big chunks fall if you hit it wrong. Hurt somebody. Tilde could cut some steps there, not you. You climb between Tilde and me."

Tilde would go first, an honest acknowledgment by Franco that she was the better climber. Franco slung the ropes and Mitch showed them he remembered the loops and knots from climbing in the Cascades, in Washington state. Tilde made a face and retied the loop Alpine style around his waist and shoulders. "You can front most of the way. Remember, I will chiselsteps if you need them," Tilde said. "I don't want you sending ice down on Franco."

She took the lead.

Halfway up the pillar, digging in with the front points of his crampons, Mitch passed a threshold and his exhaustion seemed to leak away in spurts through his feet, leaving him nauseated for a moment. Then his body felt clean, as if flushed with fresh water, and his breath came easy. He followed Tilde, chunking his crampons into the ice and leaning in very close, grabbing at whatever holds were available. He used his ax sparingly. The air was actually warmer near the ice.

It took them fifteen minutes to climb past the midpoint, onto the cream-colored ice. The sun came from behind low gray clouds and lit up the frozen waterfall at a sharp angle, pinning him on a wall of translucent gold.

He waited for Tilde to tell them she was over the top and secure. Franco gave his laconic reply. Mitch wedged his way between two columns. The ice was indeed unpredictable here. He dug in with side points, sending a cloud of chips down on Franco. Franco cursed, but not once did Mitch break free and simply hang, and that was a blessing.

He fronted and crawled up the bumpy, rounded lip of the waterfall. His gloves slipped alarmingly on runnels of ice. He flailed with his boots, caught a ridge of rock with his right boot, dug in, found purchase on more rock, waited for a moment to catch his breath, and humped up beside Tilde like a walrus.

Dusty gray boulders on each side defined the bed of the frozen creek. He looked up the narrow rocky valley, half in shadow, where a small glacier had once flowed down from the east, carving its characteristic

U-shaped notch. There had not been much snow for the last few years and the glacier had flowed on, vanishing from the notch, which now lay several dozen yards above the main body of the glacier.

Mitch rolled on his stomach and helped Franco over the top. Tilde stood to one side, perched on the edge as if she knew no fear, perfectly balanced, slender, gorgeous.

She frowned down on Mitch. "We are getting later," she said. "What can you learn in half an hour?"

Mitch shrugged.

"We must start back no later than sunset," Franco said to Tilde, then grinned at Mitch. "Not so tough son of a bitch ice, no?"

"Not bad," Mitch said.

"He learns okay," Franco said to Tilde, who lifted her eyes. "You climb ice before?"

"Not like that," Mitch said.

They walked over the frozen creek for a few dozen yards. "Two more climbs," Tilde said. "Franco, you lead."

Mitch looked up through crystalline air over the rim of the notch at the sawtooth horns of higher mountains. He still could not tell where he was. Franco and Tilde preferred him ignorant. They had come at least twenty kilometers since their stay in the big stone Gaststube, with the tea.

Turning, he spotted the orange bivouac, about four kilometers away and hundreds of meters below. It sat just behind a saddle, now in shadow.

The snow seemed very thin. The mountains had just passed through the warmest summer in modern Alpine history, with increased glacier melt, short-term floods in the valleys from heavy rain, and only light snow from past seasons. Global warming was a media cliché now; from where he sat, to his inexpert eye, it seemed all too real. The Alps might be naked in a few decades.

The relative heat and dryness had opened up a route to the old cave, allowing Franco and Tilde to discover a secret tragedy.


Franco announced he was secure, and Mitch inched his way up the last rock face, feeling the gneiss chip and skitter beneath his boots. The stone here was flaky, powdery soft in places; snow had lain over this area for a long time, easily thousands of years.

Franco lent him a hand and together they belayed the rope as Tilde scrambled up behind. She stood on the rim, shielded her eyes against the direct sun, now barely a handspan above the ragged horizon. "Do you know where you are?" she asked Mitch.

Mitch shook his head. "I've never been this high."

"A valley boy," Franco said with a grin.

Mitch squinted.

They stared over a rounded and slick field of ice, the thin finger of a glacier that had once flowed nearly seven miles in several spectacular cascades. Now, along this branch, the flow was lagging. Little new snow fed the glacier's head, higher up. The sun-blazed rock wall above the icy rip of the bergschrund rose several thousand feet straight up, the peak higher than Mitch cared to look.

"There," Tilde said, and pointed to the opposite rocks below an arête. With some effort, Mitch made out a tiny red dot against the shadowed black and gray: a cloth banner Franco had planted on their last trip. They set off over the ice.

The cave, a natural crevice, had a small opening, three feet in diameter, artificially concealed by a low wall of head-size boulders. Tilde took out her digital camera and photographed the opening from several angles, backing up and walking around while Franco pulled down the wall and Mitch surveyed the entrance.

"How far back?" Mitch asked when Tilde rejoined them.

"Ten meters," Franco said. "Very cold back there, better than a freezer."

"But not for long," Tilde said. "I think this is the first year this area has been so open. Next summer, it could get above freezing. A warm wind could get back in there." She made a face and pinched her nose.

Mitch unslung his pack and rummaged for the electric torches, the box of hobby knives, vinyl gloves, all he could find in the stores down in the town. He dropped these into a small plastic bag, sealed the bag, slipped it into his coat pocket, and looked between Franco and Tilde.

"Well?" he said.

"Go," Tilde said, making a pushing motion with her hands. She smiled generously.

He stooped, got on his hands and knees, and entered the cave first. Franco came a few seconds later, and Tilde just behind him.

Mitch held the strap of the small torch in his teeth, pushing and squeezing forward six or eight inches at a time. Ice and fine powdered snow formed a thin blanket on the floor of the cave. The walls were smooth and rose to a tight wedge near the ceiling. He would not be able to even crouch here. Franco called forward, "It will get wider."

"A cozy little hole," Tilde said, her voice hollow.

The air smelled neutral, empty. Cold, well below zero. The rock sucked away his heat even through the insulated jacket and snow pants. He passed over a vein of ice, milky against the black rock, and scraped it with his fingers. Solid. The snow and ice must have packed in at least this far when the cave was covered. Just beyond the ice vein, the cave began to slant upward, and he felt a faint puff of air from another wedge in the rock recently cleared of ice.

Mitch felt a little queasy, not at the thought of what he was about to see, but at the unorthodox and even criminal character of this investigation. The slightest wrong move, any breath of this getting out, news of his not going through the proper channels and making sure everything was legitimate ...

Mitch had gotten in trouble with institutions before. He had lost his job at the Hayer Museum in Seattle less than six months before, but that had been a political thing, ridiculous and unfair.

Until now, he had never slighted Dame Science herself.

He had argued with Franco and Tilde back in the hotel in Salzburg for hours, but they had refused to budge. If he had not decided to go with them, they would have taken somebody else--Tilde had suggested perhaps an unemployed medical student she had once dated. Tilde had a wide selection of ex-boyfriends, it seemed, all of them much less qualified and far less scrupulous than Mitch.

Whatever Tilde's motives or moral character, Mitch was not the type to turn her down, then turn them in; everybody has his limits, his boundary in the social wilderness. Mitch's boundary began at the prospect of getting ex-girlfriends in trouble with the Austrian police.

Franco plucked a crampon on the sole of Mitch's boot. "Problem?" he asked.

"No problem," Mitch replied, and grunted forward another six inches.

A sudden oblong of light formed in one eye, like a large out-of-focus moon. His body seemed to balloon in size. He swallowed hard. "Shit," he muttered, hoping that didn't mean what he thought it meant. The oblong faded. His body returned to normal.

Here, the cave constricted to a narrow throat, less than a foot high and twenty-one or twenty-two inches wide. Angling his head sideways, he grabbed hold of a crack just beyond the throat and shinnied through. His coat caught and he heard a tearing sound as he strained to unhook and slip past.

"That's the bad part," Franco said. "I can barely make it."

"Why did you go this far?" Mitch asked, gathering his courage in the broader but still dark and cramped space beyond.

"Because it was here, no?" Tilde said, voice like the call of a distant bird. "I dared Franco. He dared me." She laughed and the tinkling echoed in the gloom beyond. Mitch's neck hair rose. The new Iceman was laughing with them, perhaps at them. He was dead already. He had nothing to worry about, plenty to be amused about, that so many people would make themselves miserable to see his mortal remains.

"How long since you last came here?" Mitch asked. He wondered why he hadn't asked before. Perhaps until now he hadn't really believed. They had come this far, no sign of pulling a joke on him, something he doubted Tilde was constitutionally capable of anyway.

"A week, eight days," Franco said. The passage was wide enough that Franco could push himself up beside Mitch's legs, and Mitch could shine the torch back into his face. Franco gave him a toothy Mediterranean smile.

Mitch looked forward. He could see something ahead, dark, like a small pile of ashes.

"We are close?" Tilde asked. "Mitch, first it is just a foot."

Mitch tried to parse this sentence. Tilde spoke pure metric. A "foot," he realized, was not distance, it was an appendage. "I don't see it yet."

"There are ashes first," Franco said. "That may be it." He pointed to the small black pile. Mitch could feel the air falling slowly just in front of him, flowing along his sides, leaving the rear of the cave undisturbed.

He moved forward with reverent slowness, inspecting everything. Any slightest bit of evidence that might have survived an earlier entry--chips of stone, pieces of twig or wood, markings on the walls ...

Nothing. He got on his hands and knees with a great sense of relief and crawled forward. Franco became impatient.

"It is right ahead," Franco said, tapping his crampon again.

"Damn it, I'm taking this real slow, not to miss anything, you know?" Mitch said. He restrained an urge to kick out like a mule.

"All right," Franco said amiably.

Mitch could see around the curve. The floor flattened slightly. He smelled something grassy, salty, like fresh fish. His neck hair rose again, and a mist formed over his eyes. Ancient sympathies.

"I see it," he said. A foot pushed out beyond a ledge, curled up on itself--small, really, like a child's, very wrinkled and dark brown, almost black. The cave opened up at that point and there were scraps of dried and blackened fiber spread on the floor--grass, perhaps. Reeds. Ötzi, the original Iceman, had worn a reed cape over his head.

"My God," Mitch said. Another white oblong in his eye, slowly fading, and a whisper of pain in his temple.

"It's bigger up there," Tilde called. "We can all fit and not disturb them."

"Them?" Mitch asked, shining his light back between his legs.

Franco smiled, framed by Mitch's knees. "The real surprise," Franco said. "There are two."

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    Posted May 23, 2011

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    Posted January 22, 2010

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    Posted December 15, 2010

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