Thursday, December 11, 2008

Review: Darwin's Radio by Greg Bear (4 stars)

Great Bio-Science Fiction. Incredible Look at Humanistic Behavior as Well

Note: Review originally posted at Amazon on July 30, 2006. I am back posting a couple of reviews to see how the "tags" and sorting works.

Greg Bear explores an area of science fiction that is not often written about - biology. There is a significant amount of science revolving around evolution, genetics, virology, and mutation. Bear crafts a magnificent story about these subjects as they apply to the mass population and how we as humans might react to biological issues. What would humans do if the homo sapien species was threatened? What kind of politics would unfold in the local and national level? These are some of the most important issues that Bear addresses and chronicles. It is interesting to read about the hard-science behind the genetics and "viruses" but some of the most facinating parts of the story are the human interactions and watching the loyalties shift and change.

However, there are some suspect parts of this book. One thing that truly bothered me about DARWIN'S RADIO has to do with the writing style. Bear attempts to create cliff-hangers and suspenseful moments that are immediately interrupted with chapter breaks, and then we usually learn about the climax of each incident from a past perspective. I found it difficult to regain the excitement that was built around some particular incidents after a chapter ended only to read about how the incident unfolded five pages later from a character listening to the news or talking to someone who heard about the incident. I wanted Bear to actually write about these parts and not to "recollect" these parts.

There were also some strange scenes (and unnecessary characters) that I could have done without simply because they did not add anything to the content of the book or the development of the characters.

Overall, this is a wonderful work of science fiction. I did have a difficult time getting into the story simply because of some of the extraneous characters (i.e. Saul). However, soon thereafter the biology picked up and the science paved the way to the humanistic encounters and the societal developments.

I certainly recommend this book for science fiction fans and biologists.

Good reading,

Plants and Books

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