Dark Eden


“a captivating and haunting book.” Harry Ritchie, Daily Mail

“dazzlingly inventive… superbly well paced and well written… packed with ideas.” A N Wilson, Reader’s Digest

“..a stunning novel and a beautiful evocation of a truly alien world.”  Alison Flood, Sunday Times.



Five hundred people live in in single community in an enclosed valley on the sunless planet Eden where, over a century ago, their two ancestors were marooned.

Calling themselves Family, they still cling to the hope that one day someone will come and bring them back to Earth, where light and heat does not come from trees, but from a bright star in the sky.

John Redlantern defies Family’s most sacred traditions and leads a small Dark Eden covergroup of followers out of the valley and across mountains that are not only covered in snow and ice, but are completely dark,  in search of wider lands.   It had to happen but it comes at a terrible price, for it brings bloodshed and division into the world.

A novel about how people relate to the past and how they move forward into the future..

Published by Corvus in UK, Broadway in US.  Also available in French, Polish and Russian

Paperback: Amazon UK /  Amazon US Amazon Canada

Kindle edition (UK)

Polish edition (Ciemny Eden)

Russian edition (во тьме здема)

Edition Francais

Audio book (UK) / Audio (US)


“… A classic theme, beautifully told.”  –  David Langford, in the Sunday Telegraph. [Whole review]

“…Written in an extraordinary vernacular, this is a stunning novel and a beautiful evocation of a truly alien world.  I have thrust it on countless people this year and they’ve all loved it.”  Alison Flood, in the Sunday Times.

“… Human plight and alien planet are both superbly evoked in a captivating and haunting book.” Harry Ritchie, in the Daily Mail.  [Whole review].

Eden is dark because it’s in outer space, beyond the solar system.  A colony of human beings is marooned there…  The world of these twilit unhappy people is brilliantly brought to life by Chris Beckett, a dazzlingly inventive science fiction writer.  As well as being superbly well paced and well written, the book is packed with ideas: about how societies cohere, and the place of memory, religion and ritual in social organisms.  Above all it is haunted by a sense of yearning for where human beings belong…”   –  A.N. Wilson, in Reader’s Digest

“Like his previous novel, The Holy Machine, Chris Beckett’s Dark Eden is a superior piece of theologically nuanced science fiction. The ironically named Eden of the title is a planet where, six generations previously, a pair of humans called Tommy and Angela were stranded, awaiting their three companions who had returned to Earth to bring help. After 163 years, incestuous procreation has led to a large “Family” prone to genetic disorders and intellectual atrophy, with a vestigial legal code they know was never followed by their forefathers and a deteriorating oral culture determined to hang on to memories of things called lecky-trickity and RayedYo that none of them understands… [read whole review]”  – Stuart Kelly, in the Guardian.

“WHEN my boss hands me a copy of Dark Eden and says the author is well worth interviewing, my heart sinks. I don’t like science fiction. I like my novels to be about ‘real’ people doing real things in the real world. No rockets, robots or alien invasions for me, thanks. I decide to read the first couple of pages and skim through the rest. But to my amazement, I’m completely hooked by page two, and devour the whole thing in a few greedy sittings.  Dark Eden is a fantastic book, in every sense of the word…” – Emma Higginbotham, in the Cambridge Evening News

“…Chris Beckett sets his third novel, Dark Eden, on a distant planet where the 532 descendants from a wrecked spaceship have regressed both physically and intellectually. They eke out a dismal existence under geothermal trees, in a barely hospitable valley, until a young group decides to break ”the laws of Eden” and the hierarchical systems. Beckett provides a dark and compelling platform for a commentary on the nature of power and the need to make hard short-term decisions for long-term benefits.” – Colin Steele, in the Canberra Times [Whole article]

“…an excellent novel, with great characters and plot, which demonstrates quite remarkably just how quickly knowledge can be lost and mythology can develop when human society degenerates.” – David V. Barrett, in the Fortean Times.

Online reviews:

Kate Atherton, ‘For winter nights’ : ‘…one of the most extraordinary novels I’ve read in quite a while..’

Anthony Jones, SF Book Review : ‘..an incredibly rich and complete world full of characters that come alive amidst the pages of the book… The quality of the writing is superb…  I loved how complete this book feels…  a literary tour-de-force that succeeds on every level…’

Adam Whitehead, The Wertzone: ‘…a superb novel about ideas, the struggle to survive and the dangers of blind faith…’

Eddie Robson, SFX: ‘…The novel… constantly questions its own propositions, creating a rare level of complexity…’

‘Libris leonis’: ‘…a fascinating, intellectual and ground-breaking novel…’

‘Lucretia’, ‘ARRSE’ (Army Rumour Service!): ‘…this exciting and well written sci-fi novel…’

John Redfearn, Bookgeeks: ‘…If Jean Auel and William Golding got together and wrote a book this could be it. The cover’s great too!’

Falcata times: ‘…a story that really does grab you from the first page to the last…’

Valerie O’Riordan, Bookmunch: ‘…a character study of unconscious political ambition…’

Liviu Suciu, Fantasy Book Critic: ‘…excellent literary sf that I can easily see shortlisted for both genre and mainstream prizes…’

Speculative Fiction Junkie: ‘…It has vaulted into the list of my all time favorite books and it is easily the most important book ever reviewed on this site.’

Martin McGrath, Vector:  ‘…a psychologically rich, morally tangled and intelligently written novel…’

Henry Northmore, The List:  ‘…A fascinating, incredibly clever and riveting read…’

Librarianaut: ‘…The moral ambiguity of everything in this book makes almost everyone sympathetic. John Redlantern is the kind of quintessential frontier-pushing explorer, and this story doesn’t just hold that up as a model of what people should be, but how that can break people…’

Screaming Planet: ‘…a lovely meditation on the mature of humanity…’

Tudor Ciocârlie, Galileo Online (In Romanian).

Lidija Beatović, Klub Knige (in Croatian).

Sophie, Page Plucker: ‘…Dark Eden is a wonderful book that works on so many levels; as an exciting adventure, a creepy sci-fi tale or even a sociological study. I loved it, and if you like a book that makes you think, you should too. Five stars.’

Rahul Kanakia, Strange Horizons:  ‘….Despite its flaws, it’s one of the most imaginative lost colony stories I’ve ever read.’

Paul Di Filippo, Locus: ‘…Beckett’s award-winner is a type of tale instantly recognizable within the genre. But it’s done so splendidly it feels brand new and remade…’

John, ‘Comic Crits’: ‘There’s no finer feeling than being fully engaged with a writer at the top of his game.’

Erin Golsen, Biblionomad: ‘This is what science fiction is all about.’

Odo, Sense of Wonder (in Spanish): ‘Una de las mejores novelas de ciencia ficción de lo que llevamos de siglo’

Mitch Edegeworth, Grub Street: ‘What Beckett gets absolutely pitch perfect is the claustrophobic sense of Eden: the darkness, the enveloping cold, the rigid tribal laws and the inability to escape Family, to go anywhere else, do anything different or find anything new.’

38 thoughts on “Dark Eden”

  1. Hello, as far as I can see it’s available from several dealers via Amazon.com. However, there has been higher demand for the book than expected over the Christmas period, so that it is currently out of stock on Amazon UK and I guess elsewhere. I believe a new printing will be delivered in next couple of days.

  2. Congrats on the BFSA nomination! I went to look for your book on Amazon.com and the Kindle version is no longer available in the US; nor is the print version in stock… Did something happen with the US eBook rights? Thanks and good luck.

  3. Thansk Andrew. Not sure what’s happened there. I just had a look at amazon.com, and the kindle version still seems to be up there. Print version is listed as ‘Available from these dealers’.

  4. Great book Chris, loved it and am looking forward to the sequel. However I have two quick queries

    1) Do you think the book has a slightly misandrist streak i.e. when women are in charge, all is harmonious, when men take over things get chaotic and messy and violent. And to add to that do you think that culturally the demonisation of men in whatever form, music, literature, advertising is somehow more acceptable

    2) Just a little one, the first woollybuck that Jeff trains and sleeps with – Is that Def? I don’t think the book identifies who the first one is – I’m not entirely sure why this is important to me but I am sure that it is.

  5. Thanks Nathan. I’m glad you liked it.

    I don’t mean to be ‘misandrist’, no. My idea was that, at a certain stage of development, it ceases to be sustainable for the group to function any longer as a single ‘family’, and that, in this new environment, men start to find themselves at an advantage over women, whereas previously it had been slightly the other way round. It’s not men that mess it up in other words, but it’s men who come to the top in this new, less stable context. I’m not offering that as my fixed and final view of how things really are, just as an idea which seemed to make sense when I was writing the book!

    As to which was the first woollybuck that Jeff trained and slept with. That was Brownhorse, wasn’t it? The one that was speared back in Circle Valley.

  6. Chris, I’m really disappointed that I can’t get this or any of your work in nook (or standard epub) format. If I buy it in kindle format, I have to crack it to convert it to epub.

    I don’t think your publisher is doing you any favors locking you into the Amazon market. Kindle may be all there is on your side of the pond but here, nook is just as big.

    Thanks for listening,

  7. Hello Chris,

    The Hole at the center of Tall Tree Valey, where the monkeys parachuted into the Underworld – was that forest underneath a forest in a large geothermal cavern or was the Hole simply a hole in an overhanging outcrop above lower-lying open grounds? That would have been interesting.

    Also, that human sized bat – was this a sentient alien creature?

    Why is the planet without a sun?

    Surely, if there is a world without much light on it, the creatures living there will not need light to see, so they would have evolved other organs to give the the equivalent of our vision (reacting to photons of a certain bandwidth). Shouldn’t they have some kind of telepathy organs instead of eyes?

    Why are all people there meat-eaters and killers (the fact that they don’t kill other humans first doesn’t help – they still kill – killing is the same whether applied to animal, human, or tree)? Why haven’t they looked for ways to avoid the bitter green-black meat of alien aminals, especially if there are oysters, fruit, etc?

    How do the trees operate? How can they withstand the scorching heat and not burn themselves?

    It would be good to have some pictures of the trees ad animals (slinkes, all sorts of bucks, etc. and of the clawfoot)

    Many tanks!

  8. Hello Sylvia – I’m not a good enough artist to draw pictures of the animals I’m afraid! Some of your questions will be explored further in sequels, and some I don’t know the answer to myself, but I hope the following will help:

    I never know exactly what is meant by the word sentient. I am sure that many terrestrial animals are sentient though not self-conscious in the way that humans are self-conscious. The same is true of Eden animals (something which Jeff in particular realises). Bats with their human-like hands and their obvious curiosity are certainly among the most intelligent of Eden creatures.

    The hole goes down to a cave. Eden has a lot of underground caves. More than John and his friends realise.

    I don’t know why the planet doesn’t have a sun. Either it was thrown out of the orbit of a star by some catastrophe, or it formed by itself in space out of dust, as stars themselves do. (Dust clumps together to make stars, but to become a star the clump must be above a certain size. Perhaps little clumps sometimes form?). Certainly there are now thought to be a lot of sunless planets out there. http://www.world-science.net/exclusives/070910_sunless-planets.htm

    No one has yet studied the Eden animals’ eyes, which are very different from our own and I suspect less powerful. Perhaps they originally evolved to see infrared (radiated by warm objects), and only later extended their range to other wavelengths, perhaps in order to communicate more effectively on less crowded frequencies? On Earth, many deep sea creatures use bioluminence in an environment that would otherwise be completely dark (though of course in their case they have eyes that would have originally evolved in lighter conditions.)

    Both Angela and Tommy were meat eaters, like most people in the UK and America where they came from, and so they naturally thought of meat as a food. I just don’t think vegetarianism has occurred to the people on Eden, though Jeff is perhaps getting close to it with his view of animals as fellow creatures. It’s also quite a job for human beings to find sufficient nutrients among the alien life forms of Eden, so they need as wide a diet as they can get.

    No one has studied the biochemistry of the ‘trees’ of Eden. It’s apparent that they use geothermal heat as an energy source, but as to how they withstand the heat (above boiling temperature in some cases) I don’t know. I do know, though, that some organisms on Earth are able to withstand similar temperatures. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermophile

    Thanks very much for your interest.

  9. Would love to buy this book, but it is not available in kindle format in the United States at Amazon. Will this be changing anytime soon?

  10. Hello, Rick. It’ll be published in the US next year, paperback and kindle.

    Sorry for the wait.

    All best,


  11. Hi Chris
    I wondered whether Angela and Tommy had landed on the dark side of the planet, (just as our moon has a side that is never exposed to the sun). I was expecting the wandering followers of John Redlantern to find their way to the light side of the planet. Or have I blown the ending to the sequel?

  12. No, Eden has no sun at all Jon, I can tell you that now without fear of messing up a sequel, but it’s a nice idea (although it would raise the question of how the original astronauts failed to notice the star!).

    Brian Aldiss’ Hothouse envisaged planet earth being tidally locked to the sun in the way you describe (ie one side always facing the sun, one side always facing away). Have you read it? Giant vegetable spiders had built webs between between the earth and the moon. An amazing image.

  13. I came across Eden while browsing someone’s reviews, and I would like to read it. However, I only purchase ebooks these days. Please add me to a mailing list for when book is available in US on Amazon…

  14. Hello Chris,

    I am currently reading Turing Test, and was wondering about Dark Eden, there was a time I had this in my audible wish list queue, but it appears I can no longer purchase the audiobook version of this from audible.com, I’ve looked to other websites, including amazon, and went to audible directly, but no luck. Has the audio version been pulled from the U.S.?


  15. Hello Augustin. I think the reason for this is that a new audio book version is currently being produced for sale in the US. From what I’ve heard of this US version it’ll be worth waiting for: a lot of actors involved and a lot of trouble being taken. Hope you enjoy it.

  16. I came across Dark Eden while I was (as usual) spending an entire afternoon at my most local bookstore and it has to be one of the most curious, wonderful, interesting books I have ever read! I’m SUPER excited for the sequel!!

  17. Thanks very much Kirsti. Right now I’m just going through the copyeditor’s notes on the sequel, so you have spurred me on.

  18. I just recently had this book recommended to me by my library list of all things. I almost skipped it because of the coming of age bit in the description as I am way too old for the teenage drama that is being passed off as an ‘amazing’ story these days. I am so glad I didn’t skip this one! Critics often speak of world building as a criteria for good fantasy or science fiction, they never seem to mention ‘rebuilding’. What you have done with this book is stunning. The society created actually seems a plausible result if children were left with nothing but oral stories for an education. Part of the fun in reading this was sounding things out to figure out what the heck they were! I think ‘Strornry’ was my favorite! I can hardly wait for the next book. Thank you so much for a wonderful story.

  19. I stumbled across your writing by chance while at the local library. My affinity for butterflies made me pick it up and give it a chance. I’m glad I did
    I usually drop a book shortly after I pick it up but this one got me and kept me reading till I was done with it faster then I remember I finished any book of such length before.
    The words were easy to follow, the little jokes with C and telly vision and lecky tricity made me giggle inside and savour that they(the characters) did not have something I have in such abundance.
    The action gravitated around, a bit too much, the little quarrels and worries of everyone but it still went forward at a quick pace and offered nice thrills.

    I liked the Eden you rather shortly described. The leopard which was black black and its flat eyes and the twinkling little lights inside those eyes, all inside that pure blackness that reflected nothing just like a black hole they say we have in our universe. It completely fascinated me for a moment and I wish to try to bring that to a visual life.
    Thank you for showing me that dark dark world brighten only by its own life.

  20. I never comment on books I read. This is my 15th, or so, book this year and the clear leader. I have read The Circle, The Ghosts of Onyx, Secret History of the Mongols, and a few military Biographies but this one sticks out. I really hope you sell out and just write franchise books like ol Riordan did with the Percy Jackson series. All kidding aside. just one more. I want John to whoop David and Jeff to start his own crew of inventors.

    Please no movies. It is too similar to Lord of the Flies. They would mess it up for sure.

    Thanks for creating this.

  21. I’m very pleased you liked it. Personally I’d love to see a movie: something slightly magical about seeing something from my head being brough to life!

  22. Are you suggesting that these are undercover Star Trek novels, Chris? I couldn’t possibly comment.

  23. Bit late to the game, but I just read this recently. It’s a beautiful book, and I wish more science fiction were half as human. I was pleased to see it won the Clarke Award, and I hope you’ve enjoyed your success!

  24. I certainly have, Robert. I’ve been writing for many many years, and it is lovely to have that recognition.

  25. I have just finished the three books that have taken place on Eden. I am so very sad that they have ended. It happened so quickly, I was reading and was happy, and then that final starbird answered and it was done. Now I sit and reflect on what just happen to me, the world that was made and is now gone. I want to hold it in my mind and keep the feeling with me, but I know it will fade and eventually leave me. I can both not wait for that day, and dread it being gone at the same time. One day I will be able to make this somewhat new again. That will be a good day. This is some of the best writing that I have had a chance to read. The fantastic story is built in a way that allows you to understand how a group of people could find themselves with a society like this one. I will miss it.

  26. OK, this is premature, as I’m only on page 100 or so, but so far this is fascinating. I’ve had your book on my Kindle for a while now, glad to finally be reading it. It reminds me a bit of Earth Abides — the themes of the loss of previous knowledge, intellectual stagnation, and lack of creativity or fresh ideas to tackle the group’s future. Except for an occasional individual with a questioning, curious, forward-thinking nature. Like John. I’ll post again once I’m done — no more than a few days, I’m sure.

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