Darwin's Radio, by Greg Bear

Thriller with a mutant virus that is spread by sexual contact, and appears to cause 100% of affected women to miscarry.

This reminded me a bit of John Wyndham stories like The Day of the Triffids and The Kraken Wakes: while story is ostensibly about the virus and its effects, in fact a large part of the book concerns how society reacts, as well as telling the individual stories of certain key players.

It is never in any doubt (to the reader) that what we're looking at is some kind of evolutionary event, and so most of the tension comes from the heroes' battle with the authorities who are determined to treat the virus as a disease and an excuse to segregate people shown to be affected.

I'm not sure how plausible the idea is: the author certainly seems to have done a lot of research, and there are glossaries and primers to help you understand some of the concepts (would have been useful if these had been at the start of the book though!), but it was a good enough story to read without getting too bogged down in this stuff, and I didn't concentrate too hard on all the explanations of retro-virus and DNA.

I was quite gripped by the book and, along with one of the characters, one particular incident had the hairs on the back of my neck rising.

There's a sequel called "Darwin's Children" which I think would be worth reading.

Completed : 07-May-2004

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