Normal view MARC view ISBD view

Mother of Eden / Chris Beckett.

By: Beckett, Chris, 1955-.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookSeries: Dark Eden ; 02. Publisher: London : Corvus, an imprint of Atlantic Books Ltd, 2015Copyright date: ©2015Description: 468 pages ; 24 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9781782392347 (paperback).Subject(s): Life on other planets -- Fiction | Space colonies -- Fiction | Abnormalities, Human -- FictionDDC classification: 823/.92 Summary: Civilization has come to the alien, sunless planet its inhabitants call Eden. Just a generation ago, the planet's five hundred inhabitants huddled together in the light and warmth of the forest's lanterntrees, 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 favoured 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.
Fiction notes: Click to open in new window
Item type Current location Collection Call number Status Date due Barcode Item reserves
Default Sydenham Library
Fiction BECK Available IA1308914
Total reserves: 0

Civilization has come to the alien, sunless planet its inhabitants call Eden. Just a generation ago, the planet's five hundred inhabitants huddled together in the light and warmth of the forest's lanterntrees, 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 favoured 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.

Excerpt provided by Syndetics

Glitterfish Brooking The trouble began on the waking I left Mikey with his dad on the Sand for the first time, and went out gathering bark with my uncle Dixon, my brother Johnny, and my sister Starlight. Johnny had just come back over from Nob Head, and as we paddled through the trees, he told us the news he'd heard there. "I'll tell you a really interesting thing," he said. Hmmmph hmmmph hmmmph went the tall trees in the water all round us. Everything was the same as it had always been. The sky was black above us. The treelanterns shone. The wavyweed glowed beneath the water. "Yeah, a really strange thing," Johnny said. "I didn't know what to make of it. I was speaking to that guy Harry over there--you know, old clawfoot Harry with the missing fingers?--and he said that blokes have been coming over to Mainground lately from right across far side of Worldpool. Not to Nob Head itself, mind you, but further down alpway to places like Veeklehouse and Brown River. And, if you can believe this, he said they bring metal with them. Not bits of metal from Earth, but metal they've found for themselves in the ground here in Eden." "Oh, Gela's heart," I whispered, suddenly full of dread. Johnny's news felt to me like the breeze that came in from Deep Darkness before a storm: It was nothing in itself--all it did was make the lanternflowers sway a little on their branches--but you knew it was just the start. Metal meant change. Metal was something to fight over, like the followers of John and David used to fight and fight over that metal ring from Earth. I thought of my little Mikey back on the Sand, and I imagined a storm of blood breaking over him. But Dixon just laughed. "You don't want to believe everything Harry says. He'd tell you a starship had come from Earth if he thought you'd swallow it." Splash splash splash went our paddles. And behind the rhythm of our paddles, which was a sound that stopped and started, came and went, was that older rhythm, which never never changed. Hmmmmph hmmmmph hmmmmph went the trees, as they pumped their sap down to the heat of Underworld, far far below. "It could be true, Uncle," Starlight said. She looked at our uncle with those beautiful, sharp gray eyes of hers that always seemed to see right through you. People told me mine were the same, but of course I'd never seen them. "We know John Redlantern set out to cross Worldpool, don't we?" she pointed out. "Him and some other Johnfolk. When they got tired of all the fighting on Mainground after Breakup." Dixon snorted. "Yeah. They set out in little log-boats to cross Deep Darkness. But you know what it's like out there, Starlight. You know how big the waves are. No way could they have made it. No way. Their bones are somewhere out there on the bottom, no doubt about it, along with John's precious ring." "We've always thought that," Starlight said, "because no one has heard from them since. But perhaps they made it after all?" A little jewel-bat came darting by us just above the water, trailing its tiny fingertips in the smooth surface. "Yeah, that's what I thought," said Johnny. "And it wasn't just Harry who told me. Another guy said the same thing: John and the others did make it across Worldpool, and they figured out how to get metal from the ground." "And who was this other bloke, exactly?" Dixon asked with a knowing smile. "Not Harry's batfaced friend Dave, by any chance?" Johnny's face went a bit red. "Well, yeah, it was Dave, actually. But still. It could be true." Again Uncle Dixon snorted. "It could be. Anything could be, but I'm sure it's not. Even if John's lot did make it to the other side, which I'm sure they didn't, why would they come back? Whole point of going there was to make a new start without the Davidfolk to fight against." Splash splash splash. We paddled on. All around us the tall knee trees rose up, straight at first, then bending over toward Mainground and letting down their greeny-yellow lanternflowers over the shallow water. They made me think of mothers bending down over their children. But that waking, when I'd left Mikey behind for the first time, everything made me think of mums and kids. Johnny had had me worried for a moment, but Dixon made me feel better. It was just a silly story, I decided, and I started to enjoy myself again, out on the water with the lanternflowers and their reflections all around me. When we were kids, Mum used to tell us to half close our eyes and pretend we were in a starship with the lanternflowers as stars. And in few wombtimes, I would play that same game with Mikey. I imagined him screwing up his little eyes, just like Starlight used to do when she was little. It felt good good, thinking about those childhood pleasures coming round again, specially when I knew I'd give Mikey many many more of them than our mum had been able to give to us. Uncle Dixon stopped paddling. "That's the first one," he said. "That ought to be good and ready." There was a tree ahead of us that had a long oval cut into its bark right at the place where the trunk bent over: the knee, as we called it. We took the boat up to it and Uncle Dixon heaved himself over the side while the three of us leaned the other way to keep the balance. "Come on then, you lot," he said. "Let's get on with it." There were pegs driven into the trunk. He put his foot on the lowest one, his hand on the highest one he could reach, and, big guy though he was, hauled himself nimbly straight up, carefully avoiding touching the hot trunk itself. Straight away, while we climbed out of the boat, he began tap-tap-tapping at the oval of bark, his white belly hanging out over the rough buckskin tied around his middle, and his face beginning to sweat and redden with the heat. Harummmph sighed the tree and, from an airhole high above us in its eighty-foot trunk, it released a puff of steam. Hmmmph hmmmph went the trees all around, merging together into that deep, steady hmmmmmm that you could hear when you drew near to the Grounds from the open water beyond. I imagined Mikey learning how to make boats when he grew older. I imagined him coming out here one waking with his kids and telling them to half close their eyes and pretend they were floating through the stars. Starlight Brooking My sister was different different from me. Soon as she heard Johnny tell that story about the metal and the people from across the Pool, you could see the dread in her face. Soon as Uncle Dixon said it wasn't true, you could see her relax. Me, I was the other way round. When Johnny told the story it was like a way out opening up. I felt excited, and my head filled up at once with thoughts about new possibilities. And when Dixon laughed it all off, it was like that way out had been closed off and I was trapped once more in boring boring Knee Tree Grounds. Uncle Dixon knocked carefully with his round stone, pausing after every few taps to wipe his hands on his buckskin waistwrap. Cut off from the hot sap that flows through the bark, the oval had shrunk away from the harder wood beneath and from the live bark around it. If we'd left it long enough, it should just come away. "Shifting yet?" I called up to him. "Nearly there, I reckon." The sweat on his face glistened in the treeshine. "Let's give it a go. Ready to catch?" I cupped my hands to receive the heavy stone and placed it carefully in the boat. Stones were valuable things on sandy Knee Tree Grounds. Dixon put his fingers into the crack in the bark and began to pull gently. "Easy," he muttered to himself under his breath. "Easy. Ah, here we go! You lot ready? It's coming down." With a slow rasping sound, the long oval pulled away from the trunk: a whole new boat, or at least it would be once it had been scraped and rubbed smooth, and layers of sap and fatbuck oil spread over it to fill up the tiny holes. "There we go," Uncle Dixon said. He had the same satisfied tone he used every single time a bark came cleanly away from a tree. However many times he did it, the pleasure was just the same. "Okay, get ready for it." Panting with the effort and heat, he lowered the bark, carefully carefully, until the three of us could reach the bottom edge and hold it up out of the water. Then he clambered quickly down the tree. "Jeff's sharp eyes," he sighed gratefully as he slipped back into the coolness, "that feels good good." He splashed his face and his pudgy body while we placed the hot piece of bark carefully into the spare boat. He must have said the same thing a thousand times. "Came away nice and clean, that one. And there's not one blemish on it. It'll be a good good runner. Take it to Nob Head and it should get us five six glass knives at least." "I reckon we've been getting more trade lately than anyone else on Grounds," Johnny said. Uncle Dixon nodded comfortably as we all got back into the boat. "Yeah. Well, that's down to experience, isn't it? I've been doing this since I was a little kid. I know a good knee, and I know when bark's ready. These youngsters try to pull bark too early, thinking it'll save them time, but of course it never does. What time have you saved if you rip a hole in your boat and have to start again? I've seen good trees ruined that way, too. Bark never grows back as cleanly, and . . ." This was our whole life, I suddenly thought. This was what we did, these were our pleasures: bark that came away cleanly, a boat that was good runner, a trip once in a while to just one other little place, only a few miles across the water. "Why don't we go down to Veeklehouse?" I said as we finally paddled back toward the Sand. Behind us, in the spare boat, we were pulling four bark ovals. "We could trade boats there just like we do at Nob Head. And we could find out if Johnny's story is true or not." Of course Glitterfish was completely against it. "That's a stupid idea, Starlight. It's ten wakings of paddling each way, and it's dangerous. And what would be the point? We can get all the things we need in Nob Head." Around us, and above and below, the greeny-yellow lanterns shone. "Well, you don't have to go, Glits," I told her. "I mean, I know you're way too sensible and grown-up, but why can't the rest of us?" She shook her head. "You need to get a kid of your own, Starlight: something to think about other than just having fun. Then you'd settle down and realize what's really important." "You've always been settled down, Glits. You were an oldmum before you even had tits, and now all you ever think about is Mikey Mikey Mikey." "Tom's dick, Star, that's a bit harsh!" protested Johnny. Glits pulled a face. "Don't worry, Johnny, I'm used to it." We dug and dug and dug into the water. Hmmmph hmmmph hmmmph hmmmph went the trees. "What's the point of life," I asked, "if as soon as we stop being kids all we think about is having kids? That's like going round and round in a circle, and never getting anywhere at all." "Why do we need to get anywhere, Star?" Uncle Dixon asked. "Like Jeff Redlantern always used to say: We're here. People always want to be there, but wherever you go, however far you travel, you can only ever be here. We might as well get used to it." "Jeff may have said that, but I notice he didn't stay there in Circle Valley. And then he crossed over here from Mainground as well, didn't he?" That, after all, was the reason we were all here. Jeff brought a bunch of people over to Knee Tree Grounds to get away from the fighting over the ring that happened after Breakup, and they were our own great-great grandparents. Johnny laughed. "Star's got a point, actually. Whatever Jeff said, he wasn't really one for staying in the same place." "He was once he got here," said Glits. Four five yards away, a little claw-bat swooped down to snatch up a fish from the surface of the water. "I suppose if John and his people didn't drown, then they'd probably still have Gela's ring," Dixon said after a while. "Odd to think, isn't it? That ring from the old story, still out there somewhere in the world." "I'd love to see it!" I said. "Imagine seeing a ring that came from Earth itself, right there in front of you, as real as these trees or this water." Uncle Dixon gave a grown-up laugh. "I don't think there's much chance of that." "I'd hate to see it," my big sister said quietly. "Think of all the grief it caused! Think of all the killing! I hope it's down there on the bottom under Deep Darkness, out of the way for good." We paddled on for a bit without talking. I hadn't forgotten about Veeklehouse, and I wasn't planning on letting it go--I never let go of anything once I made up my mind--but I knew it was best to give Uncle Dixon a little time. He was the kindest of men, but no one would claim he was the quickest. Sure enough, in due time, a new thought came to him. "There is the Veekle, though!" he said in a surprised-sounding voice. "If we went down to Veeklehouse, we'd see that. That comes from Earth, and it's made of metal, and it's a bloody great big thing as well. Not just some little ring." "Yes, and it's a bloody long way away, too," Glitterfish said. "Old Candy went there once, and she nearly drowned." Here it was again: the difference between her and me. "Come on, let's go there!" I cried. "Please. Just once. Even if it is a long way. Please, Uncle, please!" Dixon thought about it for a few seconds. "We could get there in nine ten wakings, from what I've heard," he said slowly, "if we went the straight way, right across the Tongue." Excerpted from Mother of Eden by Chris Beckett All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

Starlight Brooking was always restless, leading her to talk a group from her settlement into crossing the water to Veeklehouse to see one of the only relics of Earth on the planet of Eden. While there, Starlight meets a man from a settlement called New Earth, across the Worldpool, and agrees to go with him to his home where he is the son of the headman. Soon she's right in the center of a struggle for the loyalties of the people of New Earth. Taking place several generations after the events of Dark Eden, when those characters are almost as much a myth as the original shipwrecked settlers of the dreary planet, the new volume revolves around a basic philosophical divide that has developed in the peoples of Eden since they split apart at the end of the first book. -VERDICT The power of men vs. the power of women and the rule of the strong over those who are weaker is played out in a primitive society. Cynical but powerful stuff. © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Review

Beckett's second Eden Saga SF novel (after Dark Eden) once again fails to stretch beyond the familiar. Several generations after John Redlantern shook up the stunted culture of the planet Eden, humankind's new home, its residents are split into factions. Starlight, a young woman who lives in a small tribe but dreams big, finds herself part of a political struggle when she falls for Greenstone, the new head of a violent, patriarchal oligarchy. She becomes a pseudoreligious stand-in for Gela, Eden's first woman. Starlight tries to make life better for women and the serfs, but she predictably pushes too far, leading to tragedy. There are substantial echoes of what has come before, including multiple narrators, linguistic quirks, and garbled accounts of the first book's events. However, Beckett frustratingly refuses to deviate from real-world historical lines, and the extreme villainy of Greenstone's rivals (along with the recurring threat of rape against Starlight), significantly detract from a strongly fleshed-out world that's sadly just too close to ours to stand on its own. Agent: John Jarrold, John Jarrold Literary. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Review

This sequel to Dark Eden (2014) continues the story of a civilization started by astronauts from Earth who were stranded on a distant planet. Generations later, the population has grown and split into several distinct communities. Starlight Brooking lives in Knee Tree Grounds, a place without social strata, where responsibility and power are shared equally. On a trip to the shrine honoring her earthly progenitors, she meets Greenstone Johnson, soon to be ruler of the community of New Earth. Starlight seizes the opportunity to live in a new place and agrees to become his Housewoman, ruling with him as Mother of Eden. Starlight is disturbed by New Earth's rigid hierarchical society, held in place by strict adherence to the Earth-based ideals of their ancestors, supposedly contained in documents wholly controlled by the Teachers. Jealous of the power Starlight now holds and convinced of their intellectual superiority, New Earth's Teachers set out to correct her ideas about equality and bring her beliefs in line with theirs. Instead, the heroine convinces Greenstone that the best way to rule is to shift power downward into the hands of the lower classes. The ensuing struggle for control becomes brutal, leaving Starlight fighting for her life as well as her ideals. The detailed world-building and strong characters beautifully illustrate the usefulness of myths as a tool for keeping power in the hands of a few. VERDICT This sequel will resonate with teens who meet resistance when questioning the status quo.-Carla Riemer, Claremont Middle School, CA © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Book Review

Sequel to Dark Eden (2014), Beckett's 2013 Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning tale of humans stranded on a remote planet who have mostly forgotten their origins.Leaving aside the utterly implausible proposition of a society descended from just two individuals, Beckett's sunless planet Eden has huge trees pumping hot water up from subterranean volcanic rivers to power its ecology. He doesn't engage with the question of how this might work but populates Eden with a fine array of weird creatures perfectly adapted to the weak illumination provided by various luminescent organisms. At the end of the last book, the revolutionary Johnfolk left the conservative Davidfolk, crossing the Worldpool ocean to establish an innovative new colony, New Earth. Intelligent and restless Starlight Brooking, who lives on an island in the middle of the ocean and has never been anywhere else, decides to visit Veeklehouse, a town where the original landing vehicle reposes. There, she meets the handsome Greenstone Johnson, son and heir of New Earth's brutal and ruthless strongman, Headman Firehand. The two fall in love, and Starlight accompanies Greenstone to New Earth. Firehand is dying, while his old rival and now right-hand man Chief Dixon nurses ambitions to take over. Still, Greenstone becomes the new Headman; Starlight wears the legendary Gela's ring and discovers that New Earth's workers, most of whom are serfs, worship her. Greenstone, seen as a weak leader, won't survive long against Dixon's plotting, so she tries to build support for his cause through the power the ring gives her to move the masses. What could possibly go wrong? Again, the narrative unfolds via several first-person accounts, this time more for effect than substance. Apart from the exercise in power politics, Beckett introduces some intriguing new ideas, which, presumably, he will develop in books to come. Readers delighted by the first book will certainly wish to renew their acquaintance. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Powered by Koha