Darwin's Radio

by Greg Bear | Science Fiction & Fantasy |
ISBN: 0345435249 Global Overview for this book
Registered by TomHl of Pewaukee, Wisconsin USA on 2/10/2009
Buy from one of these Booksellers:
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7 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by TomHl from Pewaukee, Wisconsin USA on Tuesday, February 10, 2009
I first read Darwin's Radio from the Waukesha Library in November 2001, and really liked it. So, when I saw this copy in a used bookstore in May 2002, I brought it home for re-reading. In August 2002, I did read this copy too.

Then today, I bought a trade-size copy to upgrade my collection, so this one is now available for bookcrossing or paperbackswap. Click here on Darwin's Radio to read a review by me, and to see what is happening with my new copy.

Journal Entry 2 by TomHl from Pewaukee, Wisconsin USA on Friday, July 3, 2009
I have formed an international bookray for this book. The book is US mass-market size 6 3/4" x 4 1/8" x 1" (17.2cm x 10.5cm x 2.6cm), weighing approximately 9oz (0.25kg). There are 524 pages of reading, and a glossary of biomedical terms used. It is still possible to add more to the end of the list. If you Private Message me to join, please inform me if there are restrictions on where you can ship.

For those who have not participated in a bookray before, it works like this: You will receive a Private Message from the bookcrosser before you requesting your mailing address, and then the book will be sent to you. When it arrives, make a journal entry so everyone knows where it is. While you have the book, make whatever journal entries you like, especially after you've finished the book. Photos of the book having an adventure are fun too! Please try to read the book within 3 or 4 weeks. When you're done, send a Private Message to the bookcrosser after you requesting their mailing address. It is ALWAYS acceptable to mail using the least expensive method, even if it is slower. Create one last journal entry when you send it, so everyone knows where it is. If anything unexpected happens, send a Private Message to me for direction. That's all! Enjoy!

Flight Plan for Darwin's Radio:
1 TomHl (Pewaukee, Wisconsin, USA) international
2 perryfran (Rockville, Maryland, USA) international
3 KiwiinEngland (Dublin, Co. Dublin, Ireland) prefer EU
4 samulli (Weimar, Thüringen, Germany) international
5 hyper7 (Secunda, Mpumalanga, South Africa) wherever
6 jeskawest (Bellevue, Washington, USA) international
7 Kappa1991 (Brooklyn, New York, USA) prefer US

Journal Entry 3 by TomHl at -- Mail or by hand-ring, RABCK, meetings, Wisconsin USA on Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Released 12 yrs ago (7/28/2009 UTC) at -- Mail or by hand-ring, RABCK, meetings, Wisconsin USA



I launched the bookray towards perryfran in Rockville Maryland USA today, from the Pewaukee post office. By media mail, it should arrive in about a week.

Here's some discussion questions each reader can answer if they like -
1) Why did you like this book or not?
2) Compare it to some other Greg Bear book you might have read.
3) In this book, where does the science end, and the speculation begin?
4) and the random fun question - Is there any kind of food grown right near where you live?

In the picture, the book can be found hiding in the branches of the pear tree I planted a few years ago in my backyard. The pears are still quite small, but I'm looking forward to picking them when ripe in about 2 months. Yum yum.

Journal Entry 4 by wingperryfranwing from Elk Grove, California USA on Monday, August 3, 2009
Received today. I seem to be getting a glut of bookrings but hope to get to this one soon. Thanks Tom!

Journal Entry 5 by wingperryfranwing from Elk Grove, California USA on Friday, August 28, 2009
This book reminded me a lot of one of Robin Cook's medical "Outbreak" novels with maybe some Michael Crichton thrown in. While I liked the overall premise of the story about expedited evolution and I also liked the main characters Kaye and Mitch, I thought the novel contained too much scientific jargon and could have been edited quite a bit. Some of the story seemed to be very repetitive and it sometimes lost my interest. I also thought the NIH and CDC characters were somewhat clichéd and uninteresting. But the book did throw out some very interesting ideas and was very thought-provoking. The reaction of society to SHEVA and it's possible consequences also seemed to be sadly on the money. I'm not sure how accurate the science in the book is so I can't really comment on that. I also thought the ending was rather abrupt and left a lot hanging. I know there is a sequel to this book, but I'm not sure I would want to continue the story. I did recently read Greg Bear's "Blood Music" which I thought was much more compelling and interesting. I would still give "Darwin's Radio" a mild recommendation mainly for the interesting concept.

Thanks Tom for sharing this one. I have KiwiinEngland's address and will be getting it in the mail.

Journal Entry 6 by wingperryfranwing at Bookring/Bookray, -- By post or by hand/ in person -- Canada on Friday, August 28, 2009

Released 12 yrs ago (8/28/2009 UTC) at Bookring/Bookray, -- By post or by hand/ in person -- Canada



Heading to Ireland to continue this bookray. Enjoy!

In the picture is the book with a small pile of my TBR's.

Journal Entry 7 by wingkiwiinenglandwing from Wellington City, Wellington Province New Zealand on Thursday, September 3, 2009
This has arrived safely in Ireland, thanks TomHl for starting the ring and thanks perryfran for sending over in a brilliant waterproof envelope.

This book is at the top of my TBR and will be read when I have finished my present book.

NB: I have the address of the next person

Journal Entry 8 by wingkiwiinenglandwing from Wellington City, Wellington Province New Zealand on Tuesday, September 15, 2009
The premise of this book is really interesting, and I enjoyed the idea of scientific theory getting a major shakeup and how it would affect so many aspects of the modern American life – the political fall out, the rejection or acceptance of religious beliefs, people’s changing attitudes to the opposite sex.

This book felt that it was written in two parts.

The first half I found was like reading lecture notes for a university course you didn’t remember signing up too and which you had missed the first month of…at times I couldn’t be bothered wading through pages of scientists discussing differing theories that were filled with acronyms. And the acronyms were not always defined…or in one case of sloppy editing was defined four pages further into the novel.

In the second half the plot become like a cat and mouse game, and the book become easier to read. I especially enjoyed the last part when the differences between people now and the next generation were outlined.

There were a couple of things that really grated on me about this book. WARNING - CONTAINS SPOILERS

- The authors sexist attitude to the main scientist…I do not need to know that she was dressed in a white bra and panties set before going to an important meeting.

- The leap of faith we are expected to think Kaye made in being determined to have a child and “knowing” it would be healthy. This was despite the fact that Kaye was used to working in a world where data was analysed and outcomes defined from results. When all other second stage pregnancies were producing a dead child why were we expected to believe that Kaye would ignore the facts and just “know” she would produce a healthy child.

- It was so American centric. This virus was global, and while there were references to Georgia and Japan in the book it was going to be America who solved the problem by creating the vaccine.

While I found this book at times a slow read, it left me with lots to think about and I’m pleased I read it.

And in answer to TomHl’s fourth question there are some fish in the tidal canal opposite my apartment, and some trees which are possibly fruit trees in the small park next door.

Journal Entry 9 by wingkiwiinenglandwing at Manchester, Greater Manchester United Kingdom on Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Released 12 yrs ago (9/18/2009 UTC) at Manchester, Greater Manchester United Kingdom



Posted via Royal Mail to Germany - Printed Paper rate.

Journal Entry 10 by samulli from Weimar, Thüringen Germany on Friday, September 25, 2009
Some people claim bookrings travel in packs. Apparently this is true, since this is the second one I received this week. :) But since the other one is a picture book (a.k.a. graphic novel) it shouldn't take me too long to get to this book. It certainly looks interesting.

Journal Entry 11 by samulli from Weimar, Thüringen Germany on Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Well, this certainly was an interesting read. The story took some time to get going and first it developed quite a bit different to what I was expecting from reading the blurb. But once it got all the exposition out of the way it got really interesting. The ending was a little abrupt, but if there is a sequel (which, I guess, was already planned at the time of writing this book), it is understandable.

My review will probably contain SPOILERS, so better read it only after reading the book itself.

Personally, I had a bit of a problem with the science parts. Not with understanding them, since I do have a degree in biology and have obviously heard of retroviruses before. But I imagine for someone without advanced biology knowledge this book would be terribly confusing, not to mention boring, for the first half. It shows that Mr. Bear did a lot of research on the topic and I'm convinced he did his best to make it accessible to his readers, but it is a terribly complex topic and all the scientific mumbo-jumbo is not really helping his storytelling. The predilection of the scientists to talk in acronyms is not helping either, although it is very realistic and he actually did tone it down quite a bit. Real scientific discussions among experts would be quite a bit longer and led in a much harder to comprehend shorthand form than in this book, so kudos for trying.
I can't say if the glossary and the "short biological primer" section in the back of the book help much with the understanding. They both seemed pretty basic to me, but the topic he is discussing in the book is a much more advanced one.

In hindsight I wonder why he made the first part of the book, about the discovery of the mummies and the whole Georgia phage research thing with Kaye Lang, so long. Yes, both things play a small part in the latter stages of the story, but especially the Georgia connection is tenuous at best.

One thing that really bugged me were Mitch's dreams, but that's probably a matter of personal taste. I have a strong dislike to dream sequences in books and often just skip them. I understand that it was done as a way to give those mummies some personality of their own, but since the rest of the book is so heavy on science it felt jarring to me to put some "spiritual connection to your ancestors"-fluff in there. Just didn't fit in with the rest of the story.

The same goes for Kaye's completely unfounded belief that her baby would be the first one to be born alive and healthy. From what I know of normal pregnancies, most mothers develop quite a paranoia as to what all could go wrong with their baby and are pretty much constantly worrying. But he wants me to believe that a first-time mother, going through a completely not-normal pregnancy in a very confusing time, surrounded by mountains of evidence (consisting of thousands of dead babies) of what all can go wrong with her foetus, would just be completely unfazed and just "know" that her precious child would be ok. Seriously? I don't think so.

As to the idea of an evolutionary shift itself, I thought that was pretty well done. The reactions of the population and the politicians seemed spot-on to me. There would be a lot of fear and panic and stupid mistakes being made in such a case. And the prevalence of nutty religious beliefs in the face of a crisis is exactly what I would expect to happen in America.
Yes, the story is very America-centric, but I guess us non-americans are pretty used to this nowadays. But to be fair, it had to be set somewhere and since the author presumably is american, and all the characters are americans, they would all concentrate mostly on what goes on in America.
The automatic assumption that an american lab would be the first to come up with a vaccine just made me smile. Again, very realistic: americans actually do have this assumption that the rest of the world is just there to follow their glorious leadership in everything. I think that's quite charming, actually.

If an actual evolutionary shift is at all possible, and moreover, would result in anything like those SHEVA-babies I don't know. Nobody does, which is the whole point of the controversy in academic circles about this topic. Personally, Bear lost me when Stella started speaking right after birth. I can suspend my disbelief about the chromatophores and the 52 chromosomes, I can even grudgingly go along with the physiological changes in the parents (although that part seemed kind of wonky to me), and I know that he needed some way to show that the new babies are superior to us in some spectacular way. But basically saying "Hi, dad." right after slipping out of the birth canal? Nah, too blockbuster movie for me, sorry. After that I was expecting her to get up and walk on her own right out of the hospital.

Also, am I the only one who doesn't get the "Darwin's Radio" metaphor? I get the Darwin reference, since his name always gets dragged into every topic that's connected to evolution. But the radio? Maybe my mind is just too literal, but I don't see any resemblance to a radio in the way those retroviruses work.

All in all it was an entertaining read and it put up some questions as to how every one of us would handle such a drastic change in society. Personally, I would love to have some new race of Human 3.0 turn up and make the old ones finally realize that, gee, we aren't actually the apogee of creation. Oh shock, horror. But that's probably just me. :o)

Thanks Tom, for making this available. I haven't read any other books by Greg Bear before, but I'll keep my eyes open for his other books from now on.
I will contact the next person on the list right away and hope to get the book travelling again within the week.

I just put the book in the mailbox earlier today.

Journal Entry 12 by hyper7 from Secunda, Mpumalanga South Africa on Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Yeah, bookrings DO travel in packs. I received 3 of them today. So this one is on the pile, I'll send it on soon. Thanks!

Journal Entry 13 by hyper7 at Bellevue, Washington USA on Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Released 12 yrs ago (12/1/2009 UTC) at Bellevue, Washington USA



Thanks, that was a very good book. Lots of interesting technical detail, and the plot was good enough.
Thanks for sharing!

The book is on its way back to the US.

Oh, and I decided to answer the bonus question: I live in the middle of rural South-Africa. There are cornfields around me as far as the eye can see. :o)

Journal Entry 14 by jeskawest from Long Beach, California USA on Saturday, March 13, 2010
Just received this one. I have a couple others I'm reading before I can get to this one, but I'm looking forward to reading science fiction again!

Journal Entry 15 by jeskawest from Long Beach, California USA on Saturday, April 3, 2010
I really enjoyed this book, more than I expected to, actually. I have had it on my to-read list forever, so I'm glad I finally got a chance to read it. I love speculative science fiction, and this book did a great job of merging the science with the speculation, making it a great read, without being unbelievable. I have never read any other Greg Bear books, but his writing reminded me of Kim Stanley Robinson for some reason. I will have to check out some other Greg Bear books in the future.

Journal Entry 16 by jeskawest at Exchange/Trade, A Bookcrossing member -- Controlled Releases on Thursday, April 8, 2010

Released 11 yrs ago (4/8/2010 UTC) at Exchange/Trade, A Bookcrossing member -- Controlled Releases



on its way to Kappa1991 to continue the bookray

Journal Entry 17 by Kappa1991 at Brooklyn, New York USA on Sunday, June 5, 2011
I received this book so long ago, and put it in my tbr pile. I just picked it up to read, and realized I never noted the book here. I'm reading it now. Will post again when I am done reading it.

I'm last on this bookray. Does anyone know if there is someone else who would like to join? If not I'm going to post it on paperbackswap.com.


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