Dark Eden: A Novel

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Dark Eden: A Novel

by Chris Beckett

Crown/Archetype | April 1, 2014 | Trade Paperback

Dark Eden: A Novel is rated 4 out of 5 by 1.
On the alien, sunless planet they call Eden, the 532 members of the Family take 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 United Kingdom, 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 and rendered in prose that is at once strikingly simple and stunningly inventive.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 448 pages, 8.18 × 5.48 × 0.95 in

Published: April 1, 2014

Publisher: Crown/Archetype

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0804138680

ISBN - 13: 9780804138680

Found in: Science Fiction and Fantasy

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Arthur C. Clarke winner I don't read a lot of science fiction, but I quickly became intrigued from the opening pages of Chris Beckett's award winning novel - Dark Eden. (It was the 2013 winner of The Arthur C. Clarke prize). A runaway ship from Earth crashes on an unknown planet, along with the Orbit Police chasing them. Four men and one woman. Two of the five decide to stay on the planet they've named Eden, while the other three attempt to make it to Earth and send back help. That was 163 years ago - and they're still waiting. All 532 people. They've lived and waited at the same landing spot, telling tales of the mother and father of their Family, fondling the few relics they have, acting out the past as they know it, and simply surviving. Because they believe that they will be rescued and taken to Earth - they just have to wait. "We'll make a Circle of Stones here to show where Landing Veekle stood. That ways we'll always remember the place and know to stay here. And we'll tell our children and our children's children , they must always stay here, and wait, and be patient, and one waking Earth will come.' But young John Redlantern believes there is more to this planet they call Eden, more over the snowy passes, more on the dark side, more than the small same life the Family has been living for so many years, more than waiting....... Beckett's world building is imaginative. There is no sun on this planet, but the trees themselves provide the light. Alien creatures abound, but with some similarities to ones we know. His descriptions paint a vivid picture of an alien land. The language initially annoyed me - for emphasis, the inhabitants repeat a word - 'sad sad' or 'pretty pretty'. Some phrases took a bit of deciphering as they are evolved from original Earth words or phrases, such as Lecky-Trikity. But I quickly caught on and was caught up in Beckett's imaginings of a society started from two individuals. Two that really didn't like each other. What I really wanted to see was what was beyond and over the mountain and after The Dark. What would they find? Beckett tells his story from the viewpoint of more than just John. There are three young protagonists. John is the driving force behind the changes, but he wasn't my favourite. I found myself much more drawn to gentle Jeff, a young 'clubfoot', who is quiet, thoughtful and inventive. Many other characters, old and young, have a voice and a chapter as well, giving alternative views on the life and times of The Family. Beckett has created an imaginative tale of 'what if'. I enjoyed the exploration of Eden, the society of The Family and what might be. But I almost wanted to stop reading during the last bit of the book. Dark Eden is also a sad reminder of human nature and that history does indeed repeat itself. A different read for me - one I enjoyed.
Date published: 2014-04-28

– More About This Product –

Dark Eden: A Novel

Dark Eden: A Novel

by Chris Beckett

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 448 pages, 8.18 × 5.48 × 0.95 in

Published: April 1, 2014

Publisher: Crown/Archetype

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0804138680

ISBN - 13: 9780804138680

Read from the Book

1John RedlanternThud, 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 th
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From the Publisher

On the alien, sunless planet they call Eden, the 532 members of the Family take 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 United Kingdom, 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 and rendered in prose that is at once strikingly simple and stunningly inventive.

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.

Editorial Reviews

Winner of the 2013 Arthur C Clarke Award for the Best Science Fiction Novel of the Year

“Poetic…Beckett renders the terror of the darkness beyond the forests with a riveting deftness that evokes all primordial fears of the unknown…There’s plenty here to intrigue and entrance.” New York Times Book Review
 
“A linguistic and imaginative tour de force.” —The Guardian (UK)

“Captivating and haunting…human plight and alien planet are both superbly evoked.” —Daily Mail(UK)

“A stunning novel and a beautiful evocation of a truly alien world.”  —Sunday Times

“Pure astonishment and pleasure, a storytelling ride full of brio and wonder.” Locus 

“Dazzlingly inventive… superbly well paced and well written… packed with ideas.”  —Reader’s Digest

“Brilliantly imaginative…a superb entertainment, a happy combination of speculative and literary fiction. Not to be missed.” Booklist (starred)
 
“A fantastic novel…Beckett has created a bizarre world of astounding imaginative vision, grounded by fundamental human conflicts.” Shelf Awareness
 
“Riveting…a keenly imagined vision of the interaction between human nature and a truly alien world.” BookPage
 

Bookclub Guide

US

1. How have the origins of Eden shaped the society it has become? 

2. Why has it been mainly women who have run things in Eden up to the time of the story and why are men taking over in the world of Dark Eden?  Is this what happened in the history of Earth?   

3. The first woman on Eden was faced with the choice of (a) attempting a return to Earth that would almost certainly end in death or (b) remaining on Eden with a man she didn’t know well and was not sure that she liked.  What would you have done, faced with this choice? 

4. Why did Angela pass on the Secret Story to her daughters?  Why not also to her son? 

5. What is your sense of the relationship between the original couple on Eden?  How is it remembered by the people of Eden?  How has it affected the development of Family generations on? 

6. The third generation on Eden could only exist if the second generation committed incest: what kind of consequences did this have, genetic and social? 

7. How do you think language would develop in a society that began as this one did? 

8. How would time be experienced in a world with no day and no night, no year and no seasons? 

9. Did John Redlantern do the right thing?  If not, who had the better idea? 

10. John is a leader, as is David, but so are Caroline Brooklyn (the Family Head), David, Mehmet, Bella, and, in a way, Tina and Jeff as well.  Who would be their counterparts in the contemporary world?    

11. Do you have to be an egotist to be a leader?  What is John’s motivation for wanting to break away from Family? 

12. Is John Redlantern a hero or a menace?  Is he a Moses or a Cain? 

13. How might the belief system of Eden evolve in future generations?  What is the book’s view of the way that belief systems evolve over generations, and do you agree with it? 

14. What does the future hold for Eden at the end of the book?  Has progress been made?  Could things have taken a different or better course? 

15. What are the parallels and differences between this Eden story and the original biblical one? 

16. The story is told primarily by John and Tina, but also by several other narrators.  What are the advantages and disadvantages of telling a story in this way? 

17. Could life really evolve on a planet without a sun? 

18. The relationship between the present, the past, and the future is important in this book.  What does it say about how we deal with the past? 

19. The author of this book is a professional social worker.  Do you see any reflection of that background in the way the book is written? 

20. As in Tolkein’s famous trilogy, a ring is very powerful in this story.  What are the similarities and differences between the roles of the two rings? 

21. The author has identified William Golding’s Lord of the Flies as an influence on this book, as well as Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker.  What are the similarities and differences?