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Dark Eden
Cover of Dark Eden
Dark Eden
A Novel
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On the alien, sunless planet they call Eden, the 532 members of the Family shelter beneath the light and warmth of the Forest’s lantern trees. Beyond the Forest lie the mountains of the Snowy...
On the alien, sunless planet they call Eden, the 532 members of the Family shelter beneath the light and warmth of the Forest’s lantern trees. Beyond the Forest lie the mountains of the Snowy...
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Description-

  • On the alien, sunless planet they call Eden, the 532 members of the Family shelter beneath the light and warmth of the Forest’s lantern trees. Beyond the Forest lie the mountains of the Snowy Dark and a cold so bitter and a night so profound that no man has ever crossed it.

    The Oldest among the Family recount legends of a world where light came from the sky, where men and women made boats that could cross the stars. These ships brought us here, the Oldest say—and the Family must only wait for the travelers to return.

    But young John Redlantern will break the laws of Eden, shatter the Family and change history. He will abandon the old ways, venture into the Dark…and discover the truth about their world.

    Already remarkably acclaimed in the UK, Dark Eden is science fiction as literature; part parable, part powerful coming-of-age story, set in a truly original alien world of dark, sinister beauty—rendered in prose that is at once...

Excerpts-

  • Chapter One

    John Redlantern

    Thud, thud, thud. Old Roger was banging a stick on our group log to get us up and out of our shelters.

    "Wake up, you lazy newhairs. If you don't hurry up, the dip will be over before we even get there, and all the bucks will have gone back up Dark!"

    Hmmph, hmmph, hmmph, went the trees all around us, pumping and pumping hot sap from under ground. Hmmmmmmm, went forest. And from over Peckhamway came the sound of axes from Batwing group. They were starting their wakings a couple of hours ahead of us, and they were already busy cutting down a tree.

    "What?" grumbled my cousin Gerry, who slept in the same shelter as me. "I've only just got to sleep!"

    His little brother Jeff propped himself up on one elbow. He didn't say anything, but watched with his big interested eyes as Gerry and I threw off our sleep skins, tied on our waistwraps, and grabbed our shoulder wraps and our spears.

    "Get your arses out here, you lazy lot!" came David's angry spluttery voice. "Get your arses out fast fast before I come in and get you."

    Gerry and me crawled out of our shelter. Sky was glass-black, Starry Swirl was above us, clear as a whitelantern in front of your face, and the air was cool cool as it is in a dip when there's no cloud between us and stars. Most of the grownups in the hunting party were gathered together already with spears and arrows and bows: David, Met, Old Roger, Lucy Lu . . . A bitter smell was wafting all around our clearing, and the smoke was lit up by the fire and the shining lanterntrees. Our group leader Bella and Gerry's mum, my kind ugly aunt Sue, were roasting bats for breakfast. They weren't coming with us, but they'd got up early to make sure we had everything we needed.

    "Here you are, my dears," said Sue, giving me and Gerry half a bat each: one wing, one leg, one tiny little wizened hand.

    Ugh! Bat! Gerry and me pulled faces as we chewed the gristly meat. It was bitter bitter, even though Sue had sweetened it with toasted stumpcandy. But that was what the hunting party was all about. We were having bat for breakfast because our group hadn't managed to find better meat in forest round Family, so now we were going to try our luck further away, over in Peckham Hills, where woollybucks came down during dips from up on Snowy Dark.

    "We won't walk up Cold Path to meet them," said Roger, "we'll go up round the side of it, up Monkey Path, and then meet Cold Path at the top of the trees."

    Whack! David hit me across the bum with the butt of his big heavy spear and laughed.

    "Wakey, wakey, Johnny boy!"

    I looked into his ugly batface--it was one of the worst batfaces in Family: it looked like he had a whole extra jagged mouth where his nose should be--but I couldn't think of anything to say. There was no fun in the man. He'd hit you hard for no reason, and then laugh like he'd made a joke.

    But just then a bunch of Spiketree newhairs arrived in our clearing with their spears and bows, walking along the trampled path that linked our group to theirs on its way to Greatpool.

    "Hey there, Redlanterns!" they called out. "Aren't you ready yet?"

    Bella had agreed with their group leader Liz that some of them could come along with us and take a share of the kill. They were the group next to us Redlanterns in Family and, for the present, they were keeping the same wakings and sleepings as us, which made it easy for us to do things together with them (easier than with, say, London group, who were having their dinner when we were just waking up).

    I noticed Tina was among them: Tina Spiketree, who cut her hair with an oyster shell to make...

About the Author-

  • CHRIS BECKETT is a university lecturer living in Cambridge, England. His short stories have appeared in such publications as Interzone and Asimov’s Science Fiction and in numerous “year’s best” anthologies. In addition to the Arthur C. Clarke award for Dark Eden, he won the Edge Hill Prize, the UK’s premier award for short story collections, for his collection the Turing Test.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 3, 2014
    On an alien world, the inbred descendants of a cop and a criminal grapple with their future, but predictability mars a solid concept. Teenager John Redlantern sees a future beyond waiting for voyagers from Earth to rescue the Family, but his battles against tradition and the elements lead to only minor losses, while technology is recreated too easily to be credible. Beckett (The Peacock Cloak) hews too closely to historical patterns, such as the change from communal matriarchy to aggressive territorial patriarchy. The use of multiple narrators is clever, as are creatures like singing leopards and the changes to English over generations, but it’s not enough. The ending just confirms what readers will have suspected from early on—the last in a long series of missed opportunities. Agent: Michael Carlisle, Inkwell Management.

  • Kirkus

    February 1, 2014
    Like Daniel F. Galouye's Dark Universe or Jack Vance's The Blue World, Beckett's (The Peacock Cloak, 2013, etc.) newest is a story of survivors in an alien environment who have more or less forgotten their origins. Planet Eden has no sun. In its place are huge trees pumping hot water up from subterranean volcanic rivers, which power the ecology. Both flora and fauna make their own tiny lights (but why wouldn't they adapt to the perpetual dark by evolving different senses or capabilities?). Two humans, Tommy and Angela, were stranded here, and now, six generations later, have incestuously bred a large family plagued by genetic disorders, held together by a deteriorating law and oral culture, which remembers without understanding such terms as lecky-trickity and Rayed Yo. Family members long for the bright sun of Earth (but how would they know? All lights on Eden are dim and feeble) and, since they believe Tommy and Angela's three companions returned to Earth to bring help, cling to the spot where the Landing Veekle will touch down, even though the valley they inhabit is too small to accommodate the growing population and starvation looms. Young John Redlantern wonders what lies beyond the ice-covered mountains that confine the valley and attempts to persuade the family's female rulers that they must migrate or die. In a bold yet calculated act, he destroys the circle of stones that mark the landing spot and is exiled for his trouble. John, though, has his supporters, including love interest Tina Spiketree, Gerry (who follows John like a dog), and club-footed, highly intelligent Jeff. Thus the stage is set for a parting of ways, exploration, conflict, murder and the erasure of accepted truths. The narrative unfolds via several first-person accounts, which allows Beckett to develop a perspective on his archetypal main characters. Absorbing if often familiar, inventive and linguistically adept but less than fully satisfying--there's no climax, and a sequel seems assured. Despite all this, the book was extravagantly praised in Beckett's native U.K. Enjoyable but no blockbuster.

    COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    March 15, 2014

    Eden is a planet far from Earth where 500 or so humans, all descended from two stranded astronauts, live together in a community they call Family. They tell tales of their family's founding 163 years ago and try to keep traditions alive so that they will one day be rescued and returned to Earth. But a lot can happen in six generations, even among those who all share the same ancestors, and teenager John Redlantern thinks it is time for Family to change. VERDICT The worldbuilding is what sets this sf novel by award-winning British author Beckett (The Holy Machine; Marcher) apart. The linguistic drift of the isolated community, the unique environment of sunless Eden, and the social arrangements of Family are all fascinating. The main character is skillfully drawn, but the addition of other point-of-view chapters help round out the picture of a society in the midst of upheaval.

    Copyright 2014 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from February 15, 2014
    Imagine a world called Eden populated by a mere 532 inhabitants, all descended from two common ancestors, Tommy and Angela, who came to the planet 163 years earlier by spaceship and stayed to populate a world. Imagine this, and you have the setting for British writer Beckett's superb novel of speculative fiction. Its protagonist is 15-year-old John Redlantern, whose act of rebellion defies sacred tradition and changes his world forever, resulting in his being banished from his rudimentary hunter-gatherer community. He will be joined in exile by three young friends, and theirs becomes a compelling story of both survival and discovery. It is told in a number of distinctive first-person voices that beautifully define character and reveal the fact that Eden's language has become corrupted; thus, anniversary becomes Any Virsry; radio, Rayed Yo; electricity, Lecky-trickity; and so forth. Beckett has done a brilliantly imaginative job of world building in both global concepts and quotidian details. The planet, for example, is sunless, the light being provided by trees and animals; leopards sing to their prey; time is measured in wombtimes thus, John, 15, is 20 wombtimes old. None of these specifics gets in the way of a suspenseful, page-turning plot, however, and the book is a superb entertainment, a happy combination of speculative and literary fiction. And it is not to be missed.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2014, American Library Association.)

  • The Guardian (UK) "A linguistic and imaginative tour de force."
  • Daily Mail (UK) "Captivating and haunting...human plight and alien planet are both superbly evoked."
  • Locus "Pure astonishment and pleasure, a storytelling ride full of brio and wonder."

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