Review

Darwin's Children

by Greg Bear



As medical science and the media continue to grapple with the
spreading SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) virus, Greg
Bear's recently released DARWIN'S CHILDREN seems to read less like
speculative fiction and much more like well-informed
prophecy.

The emergence of a generation of children with striking new
physical traits and communication techniques causes a vast negative
backlash resulting in a nationwide hunt and their resulting
incarceration in remote "schools" (read concentration camps) where
even their parents can't track them. And when a strange new illness
attacks the general population after seeming to start among these
"different" children, the latter become targets of political and
religious extremism that would make apartheid and ethnic cleansing
look benign.

Although Bear conceived and executed his medically based plot long
before SARS was even a whisper in the back corner of a Hong Kong
hospital, he is one of the few science fiction writers active today
to take medical research seriously and painstakingly produce
material that is both good reading and competent science. He cares
so much about the reality underpinning his work that the personal
afterword, glossary and bibliography at the end of the volume
emphatically should not be missed. Even the casually interested
reader is sure to experience a few "wow, I didn't know..." moments
after dipping into this fascinating and concise information.

In DARWIN'S CHILDREN, Bear eloquently combines his career-long
interest in biological "otherness" --- not only as encountered in
alien species, but also in the challenges of human evolution ---
and weaves it into a gripping story of parental love overcoming
daunting societal paranoia and discrimination. Through it all, the
underlying implications of genetic engineering and near-future
humanity's increasing vulnerability to catastrophic pandemics can
bring you up short, for this is all hitting fearfully close to
home. This is a must-read for anyone following current scientific
and ethical issues in biogenetics, and a very good read even for
those who aren't.

Reviewed by Pauline Finch (paulinefinch@rogers.com) on January 21, 2011

Darwin's Children
by Greg Bear

  • Publication Date: April 1, 2003
  • Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey
  • ISBN-10: 0345448359
  • ISBN-13: 9780345448354