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Editorial Reviews

Editors Select, May 2014 - It's been a long time since I've been this excited about a new sci-fi novel, and when I heard Chris Beckett’s Dark Eden had already made a splash in the UK – winning the 2013 Arthur C. Clark award for best novel - I knew I had to listen immediately. What I found was a fascinatingly original story set in a very unique world. Dark Eden is a sunless alien planet populated by strange creatures that was reminiscent to me of deep sea Earth. There lives the Family - the hundreds of direct descendants from the first humans to be marooned there ages ago. The Family never leaves their home in the forest, patiently waiting for the day when Earth will return to take them back home - until one day a young boy named John dares to wonder what's beyond the great expanse they call Snowy Dark. One of the most fascinating thing about this novel was Beckett’s use of language: the Family has evolved with an almost exclusively oral history, giving them a unique English dialect. This novel hit on all the aspects I love in a sci-fi story, including a beautifully imagined world, religious undertones, and complex politics. But at its heart this is a character-driven story about self-awareness and evolving as humans – making for a great listen for any fan of great fiction. —Sam, Audible Editor
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Publisher's Summary

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 strikingly simple and stunningly inventive.
Reader List:
"John Redlantern" Read by Matthew Frow
"Tina Spiketree" Read by Jayne Entwistle
"Sue Redlantern" Read by Lone Butler
"Gerry Redlantern" Read by Robert Hook
"Gela Brooklyn" Read by Heather Wilds
"Mitch London" Read by Nicholas Guy Smith
"Carolyn Brooklyn" Read by Hannah Curtis
"Jeff Redlantern" Read by Bruce Mann
©2012 Chris Beckett (P)2014 Random House Audio
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Critic Reviews

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

"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])
"Captivating and haunting…human plight and alien planet are both superbly evoked." (Daily Mail [UK])
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Mark on 04-23-14

A Ripping Yarn

I don’t read a lot of fiction, and I can count the number of science fiction books I’ve read on the fingers of one hand, so I was quite curious to see how much I would enjoy Dark Eden. The answer was ‘a lot’. Forgive me if I don’t know the genre well enough to judge whether this is truly a good example of sci-fi, but I loved it.

The story takes place some time in the not too distant future, when humans are able to travel into distant space, but they still have some familiar old technology such as radio, television, electricity and police vehicles. We only know this secondhand, however, because we are told about this technology by ancestors of 3 earth colonists who crash landed there and then formed a ‘fee-amily’ of about 500 people by interbreeding with each other.

They have heard about radios and television, but never seen them for themselves.
They are very simple souls who live a hunter-gatherer existence living off the exotic flora and fauna of this dark planet. There is no sun, and the only light comes from trees and animals who generate it through their evolved 'lee-anterns’, supplemented by a little bit of starlight and the light from human fires. There is a high incidence of birth deformities in this community, such as hair-lip ('Bat Face') and claw-foot resulting, presumably, from the interbreeding.

They all believe in a kind of creation story about their ancestors, and harbour a quasi- religious belief that earth will one day return to Dark Eden to fetch them back, even though it is about 150 years since their ancestors landed there. In order not to miss being picked up by earthlings, they all feel obliged to stay close to the original landing spot in a crater on the planet’s surface called ‘Circle Vee-ally’, even though the area has been over-hunted and food is growing too scarce to feed the growing Fee-amily.

But there is one character, John Red-Lee-Antern, who is different to all the rest. He doesn’t believe that the Fee-amily is destined to stay in this one small part of the planet waiting to be picked up. He wants to go on a dangerous trip over the top of ‘Snowy Dark’ in search of richer pastures. He has the courage and the vision to explore this unknown terrain, with exciting consequences for the rest of the story.

It is very appealing the way the fee-amily has evolved its own dialect and customs. They have become quite a primitive community, even though they are descended from advanced humans.

The characterisation and dialogue are very convincing and interesting. I found the book compelling from the beginning to the end and will now be keen to give sci-fi another go.

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32 of 33 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By L'Ara on 04-18-14

A Masterpiece in Science Fiction and Fiction

I have just finished this wonderful book. The characters are so well delineated and described, and the tour de force is the special language so well performed by the numerous narrators/actors. It is easy to believe and shows in a simple yet very complex way so many things that we think about in profound moods: the role that gender plays in our decision making and the course of history, the "telephone game" way that oral history is passed forward through time, the ways that major incidents can be changed through lies and prejudices, biology and inbreeding, and more. The language that is created is infectious, both easy and hard to understand. I highly recommend this novel because it is thought provoking, and the journey it takes you on is both obvious and convoluted. It helped me to understand my life in some ways, and it took me into the "Family" and offshoots who brave a dark world in different ways through fear, pride, eloquence and deep character development. The narrators are spectacular compared to many books I've listened to. No one in the book is perfect, no one is too hard to understand either, and the interactions between the inhabitants of this Dark Eden are understandable, unpredictable and fascinating. The ending is a bit confusing, honestly, but perhaps opens us for a second book from Dark Eden?? A+++ book! Great read! I hope this is helpful to other readers. I couldn't put the book down. Was up all night listening! Enjoy:) and learn in a different way than most books are configured.

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12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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