Evolution is no longer just a theory -- and nature is more of a bitch goddess than a kindly mother -- in this tense science thriller from the author of the Nebula Award-winning Darwin's Radio Stella Nova is one of the 'virus children', a generation of genetically enhanced babies born a dozen years before to mothers infected with the SHEVA virus. In fact, the children represent the next great evolutionary leap and a new species of human, Homo sapiens novus, but this is officially denied. They're gentle, charming and persuasive, possessed of remarkable traits. Nevertheless, they are locked up in special schools, quarantined from society, feared and reviled. 'Survival of the fittest' takes on a new dimension as the children reach puberty. Stella is one of the first to find herself attracted to another 'virus child', but the authorities are watching and waiting for the opportunity to strike the next blow in their escalating war to preserve 'humankind' at any cost.