Greg Bear's Nebula Award--winning novel, Darwin's Radio,
painted a chilling portrait of humankind on the threshold
of a radical leap in evolution—one that would alter our
species forever. Now Bear continues his provocative tale of
the human race confronted by an uncertain future,
where "survival of the fittest" takes on astonishing and
controversial new dimensions.
Eleven years have passed since SHEVA, an ancient
retrovirus, was discovered in human DNA—a retrovirus that
caused mutations in the human genome and heralded the
arrival of a new wave of genetically enhanced humans. Now
these changed children have reached adolescence . . . and
face a world that is outraged about their very existence.
For these special youths, possessed of remarkable, advanced
traits that mark a major turning point in human
development, are also ticking time bombs harboring hosts of
viruses that could exterminate the "old" human race.
Fear and hatred of the virus children have made them a
persecuted underclass, quarantined by the government in
special "schools," targeted by federally sanctioned bounty
hunters, and demonized by hysterical segments of the
population. But pockets of resistance have sprung up among
those opposed to treating the children like dangerous
diseases—and who fear the worst if the government's
draconian measures are carried to their extreme.
Scientists Kaye Lang and Mitch Rafelson are part of this
small but determined minority. Once at the forefront of the
discovery and study of the SHEVA outbreak, they now live as
virtual exiles in the Virginia suburbs with their daughter,
Stella—a bright, inquisitive virus child who is quickly
maturing, straining to break free of the protective world
her parents have built around her, and eager to seek out
others of her kind.
But for all their precautions, Kaye, Mitch, and Stella have
not slipped below the government's radar. The agencies
fanatically devoted to segregating and controlling the new-
breed children monitor their every move—watching and
waiting for the opportunity to strike the next blow