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Review by Elisabeth Carey

Darwin’s Radio

by Greg Bear

Del Rey/Ballentine Books, 1999, ISBN 0-345-42333-X

Young women are getting a virus, which causes them, if they are pregnant, to miscarry. But then they get pregnant again–without sex. Immaculate conception, apparently. Meanwhile, an investigator for the Centers for Dise ase Control, looking for a disease scary enough to preserve CDC’s funding so that it will survive to fight the next big threat, finds evidence of strange massacres that have occurred in different parts of the world over the last fifty years: massacres of pregnant women and their husbands or partners. When their neighbors can be questioned about why it happened, they say that the women were bringing the devil’s children into the world. An American scientist has discovered evidence that long-latent “junk DNA” in human cells has become active, and is doing something.

And a disgraced paleontologist discovers three frozen corpses high in the Alps–a Neaderthal man, a Neaderthal woman, and a newborn baby, who appears to be Cro-Magnon, but also, when tissue samples a resequenced, appears to be definitely her child, and probably the man’s, as well.

This was fascinating to read, and I recommend it, but probably not to any woman who is pregnant.