Dark Eden is a social science fiction novel by British author Chris Beckett, first published in the United Kingdom in 2012. The novel explores the disintegration of a small group of a inbred people, descendants of two individuals whose spaceship crashed on a rogue planet they call Eden, it is the first in the Eden trilogy, followed by Mother of Daughter of Eden. The book won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for best science fiction novel published in the United Kingdom in 2012; the novel begins about 160 years after two human beings and Tommy, are stranded on Eden. Their three companions—Mehmet and Dixon—have left in a damaged spaceship to get help. Years have passed, although Angela and Tommy held out hope for rescue, they begin to raise children, forming a new society which becomes known as "Family". Frequent and regular incest among their descendants is common, with few children knowing who their father is. Social life centers around powerful rituals: Retelling of story of the stranding, the worship of what few relics remain, myths about Earth, the need to stay close to Circle—the place where the landing vehicle set down, is supposed to return to and bring them back to Earth.
Social norms are adhered to in this matriarchy, innovation is rare. Family lives in Circle Valley. Resources are stretched but they believe that leaving will make it hard for them to find when Earth returns for them. Eden's animals each have two hearts, green-black blood and lidless eyes, six legs, tentacled feelers around their mouths. Trees tap into the heat just below Eden's surface, bringing up warmth and providing fruit and other food. Nearly all plant and animal life on Eden is bioluminescent, allowing the humans to see, while overhead the Milky Way can be seen at all times; the novel centers around John Redlantern, a "newhair" who begins to resent the deep social and technological conservatism of Family. Killing a deadly leopard proves to be an epiphany which opens his eyes to the Malthusian catastrophe facing Family, which has grown too large for its tiny valley. Supported by pretty Tina Spikestree and John's cousins, John engages in a series of iconoclastic acts which lead to the "breaking" of Family.
Exile of John and his teenaged followers is only the first of many ramifications, as John leads a messianic quest for a land "over Cold Dark" where Family can grow and thrive. The novel is told in the first-person voice by various characters, each short chapter is told from a different character's perspective. Linguistic drift has given the people of Eden unique nouns; the adverb "very" has dropped from the language, emphasis is created by reduplication. Linguistic relativity has yet to set in. Beckett said he adopted the unsophisticated, childish language of the Edenites after realizing he had crafted a society in which "the Eden settlers were a bunch of kids and two adults.... There's no external adult world as a reference point". With the two adults speaking baby-talk to their children, pre-teens and teens never adopted more adult ways of speaking. Beckett intended the novel to be "the Bible story...turned on its head", one in which people are "expelled to Eden". He conceived the novel after realizing that much of the Old Testament consisted of "small domestic stories elevated to a mythical level", he established the social norms and myths of Family around similar stories.
Beckett wanted to explore themes about making hard choices. To think outside the box sometimes requires not only "transgressive" but "cruel" behavior, he told Kirkus Reviews; the ramifications of John Redlantern's transgression, he noted has a wide number of unintended ramifications. The novel explores a and theologically conservative society's reaction to this transgression, which at first leads to a reactionary response. Only does it lead to social upheaval in ways some characters predict but in ways no one can anticipate. Beckett said much of the latter part of the novel is about how positive, creative new ways of thinking can still harm people badly, force people to make sacrifices they do not wish to make. Dark Eden was author Chris Beckett's second novel. Reviews were very positive in the United Kingdom. Stuart Kelly in The Guardian called it a "superior piece of theologically nuanced science fiction", although he noted that the novel drew a little on Russell Hoban's Riddley Walker and Will Self's The Book of Dave.
Author Paul Di Filippo, reviewing the book for Locus magazine, described the plot as uninventive but "so splendidly it feels brand new and remade". He pointed out that the novel's "harsh oasis" plot device resembled the work of Fritz Leiber, Stephen Baxter, Larry Niven, Karl Schroeder, but that didn't matter: "ll this heavy categorizing misses the essence of the reader’s first contact with the book, pure astonishment and pleasure, a storytelling ride full of brio and wonder.... The reader is swiftly seduced by two things that are intrinsic to, but separate from, the powerful plot: the Carrollian language, the freaky ecology." He had high praise for the character of John Redlantern, a metaphor for both Moses and Cain. Harry Ritchie in the Daily Mail said "Human plight and alien planet are both superbly evoked in captivating and haunting book" while David Langford in The
Robert Edwin "Bob" Phillips VC was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. Philips was born at Queen Street, Hill Top, West Bromwich, England, his father was a roll turner. He was educated at Aston, he was 21 years old, a Temporary Lieutenant in the 13th Battalion, The Royal Warwickshire Regiment, British Army, attached 9th Battalion during the First World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC. On 25 January 1917 near Kut, Lieutenant Phillips went to the assistance of his commanding officer, lying in the open, having been mortally wounded while leading a counter-attack; the lieutenant went out with a comrade and, under the most intense fire, they succeeded in bringing their commanding officer back to British lines. He achieved the rank of captain, his Victoria Cross is displayed at the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Museum, England.
On 26 January 2008, a blue plaque was erected on Holyhead House, Phillips' childhood home, at 54b, Hill Top, West Bromwich. A street in Sandwell, near his birthplace, was named in his honour in 2000; however the name "Edwin Phillips Drive" was used in error. Derek Pinches, Phillips' great nephew, noticed the error and local historians campaigned to have the name changed; this met with resistance from residents of 85 % of whom objected. As a compromise, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council replaced the street name plate with one explaining that the street name commemorates "Capt Robert Edwin Phillips V. C.". Location of grave and VC medal