Darwin's Radio

Cover of Darwin's Radio By Greg Bear
Del Rey, 1999
Note: Winner of the Nebula Award, Winner of the Endeavor Award, Nominated for the Hugo Award


November 2010: "Epigenetics, science fiction, and scientific fact" by Jim Kohl of Pheromones.com

In his book “Darwin’s Radio” (1999, Del Rey) and his sequel “Darwin’s Children” (2003, Del Rey), science fiction author and novelist Greg Bear successfully predicted that human endogenous retroviruses are involved in human speciation. His new subspecies of humans communicated with pheromones, as do other species from yeasts to non-human primates. This example of science fiction becoming fact contributes to a scientific understanding of epigenetics and human pheromones via a forward-thinking author’s grasp of molecular biology and his willingness to take the next logical step for his readers. Other fictional representations of human pheromones must also have some basis in fact; enough to be included on Wikipedia and other informative sources, if only to encourage forward-thinking by others. Indeed, in his November 2003 presentation before the American Philosophical Society, Greg Bear said: “What we [science fiction writers] write is far from authoritative, or final, but science fiction works best when it stimulates debate.” Moving forward as he spoke about epigenetic influences, he also said that chemical signals between organisms can change genetic expression. This allows the social environment to modify gene expression in individuals and in their offspring.

More than a decade has passed since Bear’s conceptualization of how pheromones might exert a powerful epigenetic influence on other species and on us. Those who are familiar with current works from molecular biology can now more fully recognize that Greg Bear was at least a decade ahead of his time. For example, see this article on human endogenous retroviruses and primate speciation. Also, my co-authors and I wrote about epigenetic influences and pheromones in 1996. The take home message that’s available through the integration of science fiction and scientific fact is that pheromones may be the most significant epigenetic influence of all. We are beginning to see this more clearly after our species sequenced the human genome and as we learn more about epigenetic facts predicted by Bear’s science fiction.

January 2006: Sci Fi Channel

DARWIN'S RADIO and DARWIN'S CHILDREN have been released by the Sci Fi Channel and will not be developed by them for a cable miniseries. Executives had changed the tone and emphasis on these books substantially—rendering the New Children into vicious mutant aliens with elf ears, blue blood, and telekinetic powers, something of a mix of "Village of the Damned" and "It's Alive." Eventually, creative differences became insurmountable. Producers Michael DeLuca, Howard Braunstein, and Created By's Vince Gerardis are now free to take the properties to other networks, or develop them as a feature film.

2000: Nebula Award!

DARWIN'S RADIO has won the prestigious Nebula award for best novel by the Science Fiction Writers of America announced April 28th, 2001. Click here for the full list of Nebula Award Winners!

2000: Endeavor Award!

DARWIN'S RADIO has won the ENDEAVOR award, a juried prize for the best novel of speculative fiction by Northwest author! It was given at OryCon in November of 2000.

2000: Hugo Nomination!

DARWIN'S RADIO has also been honored with a nomination for the Hugo Award!


The Cover Flap Text of the US Edition

Greg Bear's powerfully written, brilliantly inventive novels combine cutting-edge science and unforgettable characters, illuminating dazzling new technologies -- and their dangers. Now, in Darwin's Radio, Bear draws on state-of-the-art biological and anthropological research to give us an ingeniously plotted thriller that questions everything we believe about human origins and destiny -- as civilization confronts the next terrifying step in evolution.

A mass grave in Russia that conceals the mummified remains of two women, both with child -- and the conspiracy to keep it secret... a major discovery high in the Alps: the preserved bodies of a prehistoric family -- the newborn infant possessing disturbing
characteristics... a mysterious disease that strikes only pregnant women, resulting in miscarriage. Three disparate facts that will converge into one science-shattering truth.

Molecular biologist Kaye Lang, a specialist in retroviruses, believes that ancient diseases encoded in the DNA of humans can again come to life. But her theory soon becomes chilling reality. For Christopher Dicken -- a "virus hunter" at the Epidemic
Intelligence Service -- has pursued an elusive flu-like disease that strikes down expectant mothers and their offspring. The shocking link: something that has slept in our genes for millions of years is waking up.

Now, as the outbreak of this terrifying disease threatens to become a deadly epidemic, Dicken and Lang, along with anthropologist Mitch Rafelson, must race against time to assemble the pieces of a puzzle only they are equipped to solve. An evolutionary puzzle that will determine the future of the human race... if a future exists at all.

A fiercely intelligent, utterly enthralling novel of adventure and ideas, genetics and evolution, a fast-paced thriller that is grounded in the timeless human themes of struggle, loss, and redemption, Darwin's Radio is sure to become one of the most talked-about books of the year.

Publisher's Weekly

DARWIN'S RADIO was listed as one of the top novels of the year by Publisher's Weekly!

"Bear plays to his strength -- cutting-edge scientific speculation -- in this riveting SF thriller about possible evolutionary apocalypse. As three scientists discover a catastrophic threat within humanity's genes, Bear, a master of hard SF, explores the nature of evolution and, through well-developed characters, the nature of the species that would control it."


DARWIN'S RADIO was listed as one of the top science fiction novels of 1999 by Amazon.com!

"All the best thrillers contain the solution to a mystery, and the mystery in this intellectually sparkling scientific thriller is more crucial and stranger than most."

Additional Notes


Art from Darwin's Radio
Illustrations © 1999

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