May 5, 2016
Mother of Eden, by Chris Beckett
“We speak of a mother’s love, but we forget her power.” Civilization has come to the alien, sunless planet its inhabitants call Eden. 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.
I saw Mother of Eden on NetGalley. I had requested it before I saw that it was a sequel to Dark Eden. I went ahead and picked up Dark Eden to read before Mother of Eden. If you choose not to read Dark Eden first, you won’t be lost since it’s not a direct sequel.
I liked Mother of Eden much better than Dark Eden. The annoying speech from the first book was mostly gone from the second, and I found the characters in Mother of Eden much easier to follow and identify with.
Many of the etymology and mythology issues I had in Dark Eden weren’t an issue with Mother of Eden. Everything just made sense in the second book. In the first book, some of the sayings didn’t mean much because I hadn’t witnessed their origins. In book two, they did because I ‘witnessed’ them in book one. Book two seemed less like a sociology experiment, and more like a scifi adventure book.
I liked so many things about book two that listing them all would take too long. Needless to say, Mother of Eden is a beautiful standalone book, but to truly appreciate the nuances of book two requires a read of book one. Four stars for Mother of Eden, and I look forward to reading Daughter of Eden when it comes out in 2016.
Chris Beckett is a British social worker, university lecturer, and science fiction author. He has been a senior lecturer in social work at APU since 2000. He was a social worker for eight years and the manager of a children and families social work team for ten years. Beckett has authored or co-authored several textbooks and scholarly articles on social work. Beckett began writing SF short stories in 2005. His first SF novel, The Holy Machine, was published in 2007. He published his second novel in 2009, Marcher, based on a short story of the same name. Beckett comments on his official website: “Although I always wanted to be a writer, I did not deliberately set out to be a science fiction writer in particular. My stories are usually about my own life, things I see happening around me and things I struggle to make sense of. But, for some reason, they always end up being science fiction. I like the freedom it gives me to invent things and play with ideas. (If you going to make up the characters, why not make up the world as well?) It’s what works for me.”