Dark Eden : Dark Eden (Beckett)

  • by Chris Beckett
  • Narrated by Matthew Frow, Jayne Entwistle, Ione Butler, Robert Hook, Heather Wilds, Nicholas Guy Smith, Hannah Curtis, Bruce Mann
  • Series: Dark Eden (Beckett)
  • 15 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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


Audible Editor 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


What the Critics Say

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

Couldn't buy into it.

I normally have a pretty easy time buying into a story, but this one just had too many things that broke my suspension of disbelief. Once I got used to the narrators (there are several to match the point of view of each chapter) I tried to get into the story. It was farfetched but I was willing to go with it. I just kept finding myself distracted and wondering whether or not people in that situation would act that way instead of wondering about the story or the characters. Generally I came to the conclusion, there were several things that are basic human nature, that would have happened long before in this world.

I also didn't think the story was very original. It's basically Lord of the Flies on another planet. I also really didn't care for most of the characters. It maybe because the story is told from several people's point of view that we never really get to know any of them, I'm not sure.

This obviously this was the start of a series but I won't be listening to the rest.
Save your time and listen to something else.



Here are few of the my problems with the plot:

You figure out the big surprise at the end pretty early into the story. The space ship ended up crashing back on the planet, no one from earth is coming and they are stuck on the planet forever. It was so obvious that when it happens I just thought it was just a sub plot put in for character development. But That's it, the story ends. I guess the author was going for a big dramatic Planet of Apes ending, but it just fizzled for me.

In the story we are supposed to believe in 160 years, no one has explored this planet beyond the one little valley they live in. No one has pushed building tools, boats or other things beyond the most basic, basic level. I get it was such a lush forest that no one really had to work for anything until the population grew but these people knew all about earths technology and didn't try to duplicate things as simple as the wheel.

Everyone sleeps with everyone and no one really cares. Yeah sure they are a little jealous but it's just accepted. No one even knows who the fathers of the children are. I understand in world with no diseases people may have lots of free love, but I couldn't buy there were no monogamous couples, no family units at all.

In a 160 years no one has killed another person.

In a 160 years no one has raped another person, even though the "Batface's" and "Clawfeet" men weren't popular with the women and didn't get to "Slip" like the other guys.

Then after 160 years of all of this going on one boy changes everything and within a couple years people start acting like people.
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- Wilson

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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- Mark "I love listening to books when cycling, paddleboarding, etc but I press pause when I need to concentrate. Its safer & I don't lose the plot!"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-01-2014
  • Publisher: Random House Audio