Article ID: CBB654555495

Life Decoded: State Science and Nomad Science in Greg Bear’s 'Darwin’s Radio' (2016)

unapi

Idema, Tommy (Author)


Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society
Volume: 36
Issue: 1
Pages: 38-48


Publication Date: 2016
Edition Details: Special Issue: Science and Science Fiction - Volume II: Subjectivities
Language: English

In Greg Bear’s critically acclaimed science fiction novel Darwin’s Radio, the activation of an endogenous retrovirus (SHEVA), ironically located in a “noncoding region” of the human genome, causes extreme symptoms in women worldwide, including miscarriages. In the United States, a task force is assembled to control the pandemic crisis and to find out how SHEVA operates at the genomic level. However, as the story unfolds, it becomes manifest that SHEVA is too complex to decode in this way and, moreover, that it is not a disease at all. Biologist Kay Lang speculates that SHEVA is triggered by signals from the environment, and that newborn SHEVA children will be a new variation or species of Man. In this essay I analyze Bear’s literary experiment with science along Deleuze and Guattari’s important, but largely overlooked, concepts of State science and nomad science. Bear’s novel gives narrative form to nomad-scientific ideas about life, notably Lynn Margulis’s theory of endosymbiogenesis, which holds that a species’ DNA is an assemblage of many genomes acquired in symbiotic relations. The import of Bear’s informed speculations, I argue, is not crass prediction but a nomadic vision of life as always already different (impure, infected) and in becoming—a counterpoint to the image of the double helix as the bedrock of human identity. Darwin’s Radio is a key example of how fiction can be an excellent partner for science, technology, and society, analyzing and intervening in debates about life and laying bare epistemological and biopolitical tensions of technoscience.

...More
Included in

Article Alexander I. Stingl (2016) Introduction: “Give Me Sight Beyond Sight”: Thinking With Science Fiction as Thinking (Together) With (Others). Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society (pp. 3-27). unapi

Citation URI
https://data.isiscb.org/isis/citation/CBB654555495/

Similar Citations

Article Andreas Folkers; Sven Opitz; (June 2022)
Low-carbon cows: From microbial metabolism to the symbiotic planet (/isis/citation/CBB874316885/)

Book Adriana Giannini; (2021)
Lynn Margulis: la scoperta dell'evoluzione come cooperazione (/isis/citation/CBB331490226/)

Book Minelli, Alessandro; Pradeu, Thomas; (2014)
Towards a Theory of Development (/isis/citation/CBB001510363/)

Article Pierrick Bourrat; Paul E. Griffiths; (2018)
Multispecies Individuals (/isis/citation/CBB336701257/)

Book Russell Winslow; (2017)
Organism and Environment: Inheritance and Subjectivity in the Life Sciences (/isis/citation/CBB178727188/)

Article Brook W.R. Pearson; (2015)
The Soviet Nomad: Tarkovsky’s Science Fiction War Machine (/isis/citation/CBB505692562/)

Book Weingart, Peter; Huppauf, Bernd; (2008)
Frosch und Frankenstein: Bilder in und über Wissenschaft---Popularisierungen und Mythenbildung (/isis/citation/CBB001024125/)

Article Bollinge, Laurel; (2010)
Symbiogenesis, Selfhood, and Science Fiction (/isis/citation/CBB001031068/)

Article Lorenzo Servitje; (2019)
Gaming the Apocalypse in the Time of Antibiotic Resistance (/isis/citation/CBB410779509/)

Article Sara Giordano; (May 2018)
New Democratic Sciences, Ethics, and Proper Publics (/isis/citation/CBB369714455/)

Article Ryan Higgitt; (June 2021)
Neanderthal and the fossilization of the Third World (/isis/citation/CBB331843092/)

Article Charles Dupras; Katie Michelle Saulnier; Yann Joly; (October 2019)
Epigenetics, ethics, law and society: A multidisciplinary review of descriptive, instrumental, dialectical and reflexive analyses (/isis/citation/CBB595581322/)

Article Joanna Goven; Vincenzo Pavone; (May 2015)
The Bioeconomy as Political Project: A Polanyian Analysis (/isis/citation/CBB364077671/)

Book Marianne Sommer; (2016)
History Within: The Science, Culture, and Politics of Bones, Organisms, and Molecules (/isis/citation/CBB646077894/)

Essay Review Narveson, Jan; (2000)
Evolutionary Biology, Altruism, and Moral Theory (/isis/citation/CBB000110348/)

Article Flavio D'Abramo; Sybille Neumeyer; (2020)
A Historical and Political Epistemology of Microbes (/isis/citation/CBB158989443/)

Article Christopher M. Kelty; (2018)
Robot Life: Simulation and Participation in the Study of Evolution and Social Behavior (/isis/citation/CBB821237689/)

Article Perru, Olivier; (2011)
Le mutualisme biologique, concepts et modèles (/isis/citation/CBB001250033/)

Authors & Contributors
Andreas Folkers
Sven Opitz
Adriana Giannini
Bourrat, Pierrick
Saulnier, Katie Michelle
Joly, Yann
Journals
Social Studies of Science
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Science, Technology, and Human Values
Science-Fiction Studies
Osiris: A Research Journal Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Centaurus: International Magazine of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Publishers
L'Asino d'oro Edizioni
University of Chicago Press
Transcript
Routledge
Oxford University Press
Lexington Books
Concepts
Biology
Evolution
Science and society
Symbiosis
Science fiction
Science and technology studies (STS)
People
Margulis, Lynn
Deleuze, Gilles
Butler, Octavia Estelle
Tarkovsky, Andrei
Guattari, Felix
VanderMeer, Jeff
Time Periods
21st century
20th century
20th century, late
19th century
20th century, early
Places
Great Britain--Colonies--America
Italy
Europe
Soviet Union
India
Institutions
National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Great Britain)
Comments

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment