Mother of Eden, by Chris Beckett

I was already sitting there when my cousin Dixon came over to me. About half the Kneefolk had already arrived, and the others were coming in.

I’m reviving my previous practice of posting the second paragraph from the third chapter of each book I read this month – odd snapshots of the text which give a suitably random flavour. I’m also going to try and add cover pictures to these reviews, not so much for Livejournal readers but so as to enliven my Twitter and Facebook feeds rather than just illustrate these posts with the rather dull standard Livejournal picture.

Beckett’s setting is the lost tribes of humans on a far distant planet, descendants of a long ago crashed spaceship (whose own bitter story becomes fairly obvious to the reader, though not to the characters). They are in conflict over natural resources, the indigenous aliens, their own history, and the roles of women and men. The details of the plot, on reflection, are actually standard pulp themes; but the way Beckett chooses to tell the story through the voices of the young generation (mostly women) and his undercurrent of revolution (both class and gender) are very subversive of those tropes. The ending is bitter yet hopeful. I really liked this, as I enjoyed its predecessor, and will be agonising over my BSFA vote over the next three weeks. And needless to say, it’s in contention for my Hugo nominations as well.