21st December 2016
Chris Beckett on Daughter of Eden
5th September 2016
Chris Beckett – the writer of simply beautiful fiction and the prize-winning author of the Arthur C Clarke award for Dark Eden, the first novel in his trilogy – speaks here about why Daughter of Eden, the story’s conclusion, published in October, means so much to him.
It’s a good feeling when a new book finally makes it out into the world, and I’m really excited about Daughter of Eden, my third and final novel to be set on the sunless planet, Eden.
One of the things that makes Daughter of Eden different and special to me is the character of its main protagonist, Angie Redlantern. (She is also, incidentally, the novel’s sole narrator, in contrast to the other books which were told by a range of characters.)
Angie appears in Mother of Eden as Starlight’s childhood friend. Starlight abandons her to pursue her own adventures, and much later learns that Angie herself set out on a different adventure of her own, following a shadowspeaker called Mary across to Mainground. Starlight is appalled that her old friend should have thrown in her lot with one of these spirit mediums/preachers who play so shamelessly on the gullibility of their listeners.
In Daughter of Eden, Angie has been discarded by the shadowspeaker, is married (or so we would call it on Earth) to a very uninspiring man, and, with three small children to care for, is eking out a precarious living in the forest near to the softly glowing sea that in Eden is known as Worldpool. Angie is a batface. That is, she has what we on Earth would call a severe case of harelip and cleft palate. And for that reason, and perhaps other reasons too, she is not a very self-confident person and certainly not a natural leader in the way that John is in Dark Eden or Starlight is in Mother of Eden. But, as it turns out, events place Angie right in the centre of things.
It’s not giving very much away to say that much of the book takes place against the backdrop of a war between the two patriarchal societies that dominate the human population of Eden. But, that said, the battles and leaders are not in the foreground of this book. Most of the action takes place among people fleeing from the fighting with their children and whatever possessions they can carry. And the central figures of this story, for me, are five women –Angie, Mary, Starlight, Gaia and Trueheart– who all, for various different reasons, find themselves up in Circle Valley, where humans first set foot on Eden and where Dark Eden opened.
As to the ending, I don’t think it’s going to be quite what readers of the other books might expect, but it brings Angie very close to the beginnings of the human story of Eden. And I at least find it a very satisfying conclusion.