- Non Fiction
Dark Eden by Chris Beckett
List Price: £8.99
Paperback: 400 Pages.
Published: 2012 by Corvus
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.
An interesting society
Living on Eden is a group of descendants from a crashed space ship. Generations of inbreeding from the two individuals who are the common ancestor of them all have left many of them with physical and mental deformities. Living on a world without light except that which is generated by the vegetation has made for a simple, hunter gatherer society. Memories of their beginning has left them with a mythology based on a rapidly disappearing historical memory and a rigid society. The community is obviously close to an end whilst it hangs on awaiting the return of those who left.
This is a book full of clever ideas. The society that has been created seems believable based on the history and the way that communities work. Eventually, however, someone is going to challenge the norms and mythology and in this story John Redlantern raises together a group of young people who are prepared to travel away from the existing habitation and look to do something new. In doing so, they challenge many ideas of what is acceptable and other factions arise and challenge them.
I thought that the set up was good and I accepted that this is a possible society that could have grown up in the circumstances. I thought that the challenges to the community and what happened made sense. I didn't, however, really like John Redlantern or his ethos. I didn't admire his reasoning or some of the ways that he went about things. I did, whoever, like Tina Spikehair whose story is also part of the plot and I sympathised more with her. The fact that I didn't really like John or the way he worked spoiled my total enjoyment of this story but I will be interested to see where the author takes it next.