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Title: Mother of EdenSpring Book Review Button
Author: Chris Beckett
ISBN: 9780804138703
No. of Pages: 480
Genre: Science Fiction
Origins: The Crown Publishing Group
Release Date: 12 May 2015


“Just a few generations ago, the planet’s five hundred inhabitants huddled together in the light and warmth of the Forest’s lantern trees, afraid to venture out into the cold darkness around them.

Now, humanity has spread across Eden, and two kingdoms have emerged. Both are sustained by violence and dominated by men – and both claim to be the favored children of Gela, the woman who came to Eden long ago on a boat that could cross the stars, and became the mother of them all.

When young Starlight Brooking meets a handsome and powerful man from across Worldpool, she believes he will offer an outlet for her ambition and energy. But she has no inkling that she will become a stand-in for Gela herself, and wear Gela’s fabled ring on her own finger—or that in this role, powerful and powerless all at once, she will try to change the course of Eden’s history.”

Thoughts on the Novel: Mother of Eden continues the story of the inhabitants of Eden. First explained in Dark Eden, it is the planet on which several humans crashed hundreds of years ago, a planet that has no sun but obtains its warmth and light from the plant and animal life that exists there. Taking place roughly three generations after the events in that first novel in the series, humanity is no longer bound by fear to one location but has spread out around the planet. Mother of Eden is the story of how these clusters of humanity differ and yet remain the same.

One of the things Mr. Beckett does so well is capture the evolution of language and society throughout the generations. He did this superbly in Dark Eden and takes it one step further in this second novel because now he gets to play with different locations and the changes they encourage. Because of that, the story becomes an anthropologist’s dream, as he details the subtle and not-so-subtle differences between the societies plus there ongoing evolution into patriarchal rule. In essence, Eden is a microcosm for Earth’s own history of civilization, bringing to life our own messy path throughout history.  The best part is that he does not hit readers over their heads with obviousness. Instead, he incorporates the changes in such a way that they are a part of the descriptive narrative necessary for one to visualize this strange world. For readers to be able to recognize evolution in progress is as added bonus.

What Mother of Eden is, more than anything, is the story of the birth of a modern civilization. Human curiosity allowed the descendants of the original survivors to leave the protection and comfort of the familiar. Three generations later, there is a burgeoning monetary system, governments, caste systems, industry, and, of greatest importance to the story, violence. Just as he did in Dark Eden, Mr. Beckett draws on the recognizable to best explain the unrecognizable. This time, however, it is the planet itself which is familiar to readers, while the customs, rules, and language are yet again different. Starlight, coming from a group most like those original descendants, highlights these differences for readers and becomes the mouthpiece through which readers voice their concerns. Moreover, she proves to be an excellent foil for recognizing the inconsistences among the different societies. Given her propensity for wisdom and rational thought, as well as her desire to make a difference, there is no doubt that her story is not quite at a close at the end of Mother of Eden. What role she will play, and just how much more change the inhabitants of this planet will incur, remains a tantalizing secret.

Mother of Eden by Chris Beckett

BOTTOM LINE: Creative, compelling, and linguistically/sociologically fascinating.

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