Dark EdenDark Eden by Chris Beckett

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

the blurb on the back of this book says: “a linguistic and imaginative tour de force”–Guardian (UK)

well, parts of this book are nicely imaginative, but the attempt at linguistic inventiveness is thoroughly annoying. for the most part, the aforementioned linguistic specialness is repetition: a bad thing is “bad,” and a really bad thing is “bad bad”. or sometimes “bad bad.” or, in a really hideous case, “bad bad bad.” that and a few corruptions of standard english are pretty much it in terms of bad bad linguistic invention.

the worldbuilding in this book is ok–a world apparently not circling a star, heated and given atmosphere by geothermal emanation, and lit by luminescent plant life (and occasionally luminescent animal life as well). onto this eden lands an unintended exploratory group, and two are stranded there, to begin anew reproducing, expanding, etc etc.

the society that develops is a communal one, with predominantly women leaders. and a few generations on… comes John Redlantern.

the worldbuilding raises a whole bunch of questions that the book really isn’t interesting enough to pursue: the genetic viability of a settlement of two, the unlikelihood (is that a word?) that such a foreign world would sustain the dietary needs of humans, why the pair immediately went from high-tech to no-tech. why, if they chose to stay, do they keep whinging about Earth coming back to rescue them. etc etc.

sociologically the happy bonobo-like Family of the outset is chimpanzee-ized by John Redlantern, and this too is not entirely believable.

the endless sexual harassment and sexual denigration of women, even in the bonobo days, is also pretty annoying. and then, the inevitable rape scene…  sigh.

you know, men must have pretty low opinions of themselves, by and large. it seems like when one writes an SF book in which there is a technological slide, all of a sudden some percentage become insta-rapists. hoarders of women, as if women were just… tupperware or something, something you can pick up and move around at will, collect a nice set of. anyway. i personally think better of most men than that–most of ’em that i hang out with would no more become rapists if you took away their cell phones than they would become woolly mammoths.

anyway. the book was an interesting idea, but not really well-thought-out. i understand the author is a writer of textbooks. ’nuff said.