18166988Author Chris Beckett offers us a science fiction tale loaded with religious references and still comes up with a superior novel. Start with the name of the planet, Eden, with five hundred-thirty-two humans living in the circle valley, all descendants of one couple, Tommy and Angela. They have a set of laws that they live by as well.

Eden has no sun. Light and heat come from the the trees they call Red lantern and White lantern. They live in a small valley and are slowly descending back to more primitive levels as they wait for Earth to come and take them home. The language has started to change too.

Each year Any Virsry is held where births and deaths are tallied, the momentoes are displayed(the models carved by Tommy of a car, a building, and a starship are displayed). They recount things told by each generation of Earth where the light comes from the sky, something called Lecky-trickity powers everything, and planes fly through the air like birds. Sex is rather open, they call it slipping, with any female, oldmum or youngmum, taking the male of their choice.

This year’s Any Virsiry, the one hundred sixty-third, is held as always around the Circle of Stones, the spot where the landing veekle that brought the five first set down, memoralized by a circle of stones with five in the middle, signifying the Three Companions and Tommy and Angela. It has become a religious site where no one but the Council can get within three feet, let alone touch them.

One dares to speak out, defying the leaders.

John Redstone, a newhair, is fifteen years old< as the Oldies reckon, or twenty wombtimes as thew young ones think of it. He knows hunting food is getting tougher(School was abolished at Any Virsry one forty-five because they needed the time for hunting). They eat meat that just a few years before they would never have considered.

John is different from most of his peers, even the older ones. He knows something must be done. They must find other living valleys(they know from stories told and retold that more lighted areas were seen as the police veekle came down. He faced down and killed a forest leopard with a boy's spear rather than climb a tree until it went away.

He's castigated for even suggesting spreading out. It's infernally cold and dark around Circle Valley, and besides, no one has ever done such a thing!

The bulk of the novel takes place after he breaks a number of Family laws and is banished. Ho one is allowed to speak of him or to him. He's soon joined by others and set out to find new lighted valleys.

What they finds revelas some uncomfortable truths and he's pursed by one of his relatives and a number of sycophants who are gradually taking Family over once John upset the apple cart.

Liked this one.