Monday, December 17, 2007

Darwin's Children by Greg Bear

Bookcover imageDarwin's Children comes to continue the story from Darwin's Radio.

My general feeling is that this is not a very good book or series. The basic ideas that started it are interesting, although pretty hard to advocate to a scientist, certainly interesting from a literary point of view, giving multiple opportunities for tension, drama, unexpected, etc. Unfortunately, Greg Bear failed to capitalise those ideas, writing a book that has only a few characters that kind of stumble upon the most important clues for the book subject; it all happens in the USA, with almost no regard to what could or would have happened elsewhere. In a time of a great crisis, the international situation is put on hold, like every nation would take a time-out and ignore its neighbours. And the style is really not touching any emotional chord whatsoever.

Let me summarize: the sudden leap in human evolution is treated by the politicians as a disease, the new species being imprisoned in what could only be described as concentration camps. The entire U.S. democracy and freedom collapses like a giant soap bubble, while the fear of every child bearing family transcends to racism and fascism in no time. The few enlightened people that understand what is going on and try to protect the evolved offspring are also persecuted and surveillanced.

So here we have the eternal American obsession with children in distress and terrified families combined with concentration camps for some of their children, racism and civil disobedience, a newly discovered and frightening evolutionary mechanism, cutting edge genetics and archaeology. This could have been a fantastic story! But no, what came out was an impersonal account of hard to believe actions or feelings coming from emotionally stunted characters. And what was worse is that whenever the tension grew and there was a hint of a great thing happening, the author would make a sudden leap in time, after all had already happened, without describing much anyway.

Also, Darwin's Children is the last book of the series, while the story (as far as I am concerned) stopped halfway through, with no reasonable conclusion. Bottom line: not worth the time.