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Dark Eden [Paperback]

Chris Beckett
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (170 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

1 Aug 2012

You live in Eden. You are a member of the Family, one of 532 descendants of Angela and Tommy. You shelter beneath the light and warmth of the Forest's lantern trees, hunting woollybuck and harvesting tree candy. Beyond the forest lie the treeless 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 you recount legends of a world where light came from the sky, where men and women made boats that could cross between worlds. One day, the Oldest say, they will come back for you. You live in Eden. You are a member of the Family, one of 532 descendants of two marooned explorers. You huddle, slowly starving, beneath the light and warmth of geothermal trees, confined to one barely habitable valley of a startlingly alien, sunless world. After 163 years and six generations of incestuous inbreeding, the Family is riddled with deformity and feeblemindedness. Your culture is a infantile stew of half-remembered fact and devolved ritual that stifles innovation and punishes independent thought. You are John Redlantern. You will break the laws of Eden, shatter the Family and change history. You will be the first to abandon hope, the first to abandon the old ways, the first to kill another, the first to venture in to the Dark, and the first to discover the truth about Eden.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Corvus (1 Aug 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848874642
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848874640
  • Product Dimensions: 3 x 12.5 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (170 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 38,318 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chris Beckett's third novel Dark Eden (published in 2012), follows two others, The Holy Machine (2010) and Marcher (2009). His short stories have been appearing in print in Britain and the US since 1990, and his short story collection, The Turing Test, won the Edge Hill Short Fiction Award in 2009, in a shortlist including collections by Booker and Whitbread prize-winners, Anne Enright and Ali Smith, a rare instance of a science fiction book winning a non-genre literary award.

More information about his fiction writing can be found at www.chris-beckett.com

Chris Beckett works part-time as a lecturer in social work, and he also writes text books. He tries to use his experience of story telling to make these books readable and lively, and to write in a realistic way about social work as it actually exists.

Product Description


`A classic theme, beautifully told' --Sunday Telegraph

`Brilliantly brought to life by Chris Beckett, a dazzlingly inventive science-fiction writer... superbly well paced and well written, packed with ideas' --A.N Wilson, Reader's Digest

'Human plight and alien planet are both superbly evoked in a captivating and haunting book'
--Daily Mail

Dark Eden is an incredible novel --SFBooks

'Dark Eden is stunningly written' --SciFiNow

'... a strong contender for science-fiction novel of the year...There's no justice if Dark Eden, with its beautiful, terrifying planet, slowly revealed, fails to bring Beckett awards.' --Sunday Times

'... a superior piece of theologically nuanced science fiction... I for one would relish reading a sequel' --Guardian

About the Author

Chris Beckett is a university lecturer living in Cambridge. He has written over 20 short stories, many of them originally published in Interzone and Asimov's. In 2009 he won the Edge Hill Short Story competition for his collection of stories, The Turing Test.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, haunting, powerful. 6 Jan 2012
Eden: a world of perpetual darkness, lit by fluorescent vegetation and headed by geothermal trees. Five hundred humans - the Family - live in an isolated valley. They are all descended from the same couple, Tommy and Angela, astronauts stranded on Eden one hundred and sixty years ago. As a result, genetic deformities and aberrations amongst the Family are commonplace. The Family is held together by the dream that one day Earth will send a rescue ship to pick them up and take them home.

For teenage hunter John Redlantern, this dream is a futile delusion. He believes that the Family must branch out to survive, as the valley's food stocks are dwindling. But the only way out of the valley is a dangerous ascent over an unlit, freezing mountain that has killed every person who has tried to climb it. John's determination to escape to a better place splits the Family apart, but how much is John's plan motivated by a desire for humanity to survive on Eden and how much to appease his own ego?

Dark Eden is a dark (thematically and literally) novel that uses an interesting SF concept - a world in perpetual darkness - to explore themes about human society and the impact of ideas, traditions and rituals on a small group of people. Chris Beckett, the author of the excellent Holy Machine, has been noted as an author who fuses SF subject matter and 'literary' ambitions together into something interesting. Whilst hardly new - there's a faint hint of Brian Aldiss or early Ballard to his work - it's something that Beckett does well, creating stories that work from a scientific viewpoint as well as a literary one.

Eden itself, with its luminous trees and vividly nocturnal wildlife, is a fine, stirring creation.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Eljon
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
What I love about that book that is so different. No aliens, no big spaceships, no wars, no proud human race. It's just story of forgotten small group of people, on very unusual planet, very dark. The whole story is very well constructed, picture of events is very very convincing, and it is hard to imagining it in other way. Darkness and strange mood of this book swallowed me straight away and kept until last pages. I couldn't get back to myself for a week after this book.
I can recommend it to every fan of S-F that want to try something different.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Eden is a planet without a sun. Instead, light is generated by Eden's humming trees and its strange animals. Scratching a living in one small area of the planet is a group of several hundred humans who are descended from two astronauts from Earth who settled on Eden approximately 160 years before. Five astronauts had landed but three left to try to make it back home. The remaining two, Tommy and Angela, stayed behind and in so doing became the mother and father, grandparents and great grandparents of every man, woman and child on Eden. Divided into different family groups, such as the Redlanterns, London and Brooklyn, the people wait for the astronauts to return and take them all back home to Earth. They have little but a shared mythology, a common memory handed down like Chinese whispers, to give them comfort. But as the years go by and no-one from earth has arrived, the youngsters, the New Hairs, led by John Redlantern, decide to turn an existence into a life.

Dark Eden is one of the most extraordinary novels I've read in quite a while. Almost immediately, the powers of Beckett's description and imagination have immersed the reader fully into this eerie, dark world which is both beautiful and menacing. Fierce leopards sing exquisitely before they strike, bats hang from trees with their arms folded, watching, bucks (like cattle) have lanterns growing on their heads. But the humans fare less well. Generations of inbreeding have created people with `batfaces' and `clawfeet'. Many babies die, especially boys. Language has degenerated, adjectives have been lost - now something is `cold cold' or `hot hot' and life centres around the stories told by Eldest about Tommy and Angela, their journey from Earth and the objects they left behind, such as Car, Plane, Rayed Yo and Lecky-trickity.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the dark fantastic 13 Feb 2012
By Jason
This is a brilliant story. I won't go over the details, as that has been covered well already.

This is a great comibination of planetary exploration and future primitive on a planet that seems to be travelling in interstellar space outside any solar system. A spaceship crashes on a the world they call Eden, and their descendents stay in the area waiting for Earth to rescue them. Chris Beckett explains how life might survive, and creates a wonderful ecosystem for the humans to explore that is both alien yet believable.

On top of that, the book is an allegory about the introduction of evil in the world (it's called Dark Eden for a reason), and about how change is painful but necessary.

All the characters are strong, and you can understand their point of view even if you do not agree with what they are doing. The main protagonist John Redlantern is a complex and not entirely sympathetic character that shakes up the old system without any clear idea what to replace it with. The only one-note character is the 'baddie', but even here, you can understand how he had become so bitter.

Great book, it's only February but can see this will be one of my favourite reads of 2012
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best SF I've read in the long while
One of the best SF I've read in the long while.Lots of new concepts and characters, well written and literate. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Polly
5.0 out of 5 stars First rate!
A good, solid, science fiction story that's a damned fine read. There really is nothing more to say.

Enjoy :)
Published 6 days ago by Aircool
3.0 out of 5 stars Incest and ableism
TRIGGER WARNINGS: Incest, ableism.

The US cover sparked my interest, and the setting of Eden includes flora and fauna of which some is colourful and some lights up. Read more
Published 21 days ago by Tez Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant.
Oh this was a fab read. Really enjoyed it and it's not something I'd usually go for (a book club choice). Definitely a winner.
Published 21 days ago by Tanya
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
compelling and original! is sequel?
Published 24 days ago by cherrybrixx
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read.
A clever plot with some interesting ideas and a bit of a twist at the end. I enjoyed the book and recommend it, though there were some typos scattered across the text.
Published 1 month ago by Hedgy
2.0 out of 5 stars Fairly dull
Contains some good ideas, but characters are hard to relate to and the story is not all that interesting. Read more
Published 1 month ago by J Biswan
4.0 out of 5 stars Lord of the Flies in space
My review title alludes to one of the more obvious (probable) influences on Beckett but it isn't remotely as simplistic as that might seem, as he attempts to explore how... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Thomas Ryan
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
I loved this book. So good on a number of levels, really memorable. Intelligent, well written, great plot and pace. Highly recommended.
Published 2 months ago by paj
4.0 out of 5 stars Immersion into a new world
I was lucky enough to buy the kindle version of this book for just 99 pence. Having read it, I think it is still worth reading at full price. Read more
Published 2 months ago by ZL
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