Location: Provo Utah
Dear Mr. Bear,
I'm yet another of the students from the science and literature course at BYU.
I wanted to ask about your thought process as you created the character of Kaye Lang in "Darwin's Radio". As I read, I couldn't help but notice that she seemed to undergo multiple sort of mini-revolutions - from wife to widow to lover to Eve figure, from an independent scientist to a pawn and back again, from pro-choice activist to the voice for letting babies be born, among others. The one that was most interesting to me was her role as kind of a new mother/Eve figure that had never been before. (This is possibly because my first baby is six months old.)
My question for you is simply this: why was she married at the beginning of the book? Did she need to have experienced the "traditional" sort of marriage with Saul and then progress to a relationship that was new to her in order to make her fit for the job as Stella Nova's mom? Was it essential to her character to have been through so many of the phases of a woman's existence before she could be an "Eve"?
From: Greg Bear
There are lots of currents back and forth in Kaye's life, and I think most of us--male and female--go through similar loop-the-loops before we find out who and what we actually are. Saul, Kaye's first husband, is both partner in her biotech endeavors and a man suffering from severe stress, which pushes him over the edge. Later, Kaye and Mitch will learn that the overwhelming stress of the 20th century helped push the human race into speciation. Saul is a microcosm reflecting the larger issue--we're having a hard time getting along with each other. We don't communicate all that well.
Mitch is a hardier breed, but has gone through his own failures and tough rites of passage before Kaye meets him--at which point, their quests intersect. Is Kaye using Mitch? Perhaps--but it's definitely love, and they will be put through their severest test in DARWIN'S CHILDREN.
Most of my novels take advantage of smaller instances of character reflecting the larger themes of history and humanity.
It's a peculiar fact of life that sometimes our mistakes or missteps--even our broken and troubled relationships--are not so much failures, as necessary stages. They give us the perspective necessary to reach our full maturity.
Every aspect of human experience is both derived from, and reflected in, biology. We learn as individuals, as a culture, as a species--and the genome learns as well.