‘Dark Eden’ was originally the title of a short story, published in Asimov’s in 2006 (it’s also collected in The Turing Test). In it four men and a woman find themselves, as a result of an act of disobedience by three of the men, on the sunless planet Eden, lit and kept warm by its own geothermal life. Their ship is badly damaged and the chances of returning successfully to Earth are very slim. The woman Angela offers to stay on Eden with one of the men, so that human life can carry on there if the ship doesn’t manage to get through. T0mmy (a womanising astronaut who she doesn’t like much) offers to be the one to stay with her.
My youngest daughter Nancy (a great writer herself) first got me started on writing this novel, when she noticed the title of the short story and told me it was a good name for a book. (It is: and in fact there are at least two other books with the same name!) She was also very helpful when I and my characters found ourselves stuck up on Snowy Dark.
The original prototype of the novel was a much earlier story, ‘The Circle of Stones’, published in Interzone back in 1992, when Nancy was two months old. It too described the sunless planet, and included one of the central events of the book, John’s original transgressive act, as well as early versions (with slightly different names) of the characters John, Tina, Gerry and Jeff, plus the three ‘Oldest’. But the story had a more violent, amoral and feral feel, and the characters that were to become John, Tina and Jeff were very different from what they would later grow into: Teema, the Tina of the story, was a ruthless Lady MacBeth figure, while Jerf was much more childlike and defenceless than the odd but self-reliant Jeff of the book.
As people sometimes point out, I tend to use well-tested SF themes. The Holy Machine was hardly the first book in which a robot comes alive, and Dark Eden wasn’t the first ‘Adam and Eve in space’ story. C.S.Lewis’s Perelandra is another that comes to mind, but I’m sure there are many more, and of course the Adam and Eve story itself has been around for a good few millenia.
But then again, Shakespeare wasn’t the first person to tell the story of King Lear. I think it’s what you do with these themes that’s important, not whether they’re new or not.