EdenbornBy Jacqueline Bundy
Posted at October 1, 2005 - 3:39 PM GMT
Author: Nick Sagan
Release Date: August 2004
All parents make mistakes when raising their children but in Edenborn child-rearing presents a unique set of challenges for the handful of individuals tasked with rebuilding humanity. In the follow-up to his critically acclaimed debut novel Idlewild, former Star Trek writer Nick Sagan returns the reader to the richly imaginative future he first envisioned in that tale with a story that is bittersweet and compelling. If you haven't read Idlewild you might be a bit confused while reading the first few pages of Edenborn but very early in the story all is made clear with a single passage that simultaneously recaps prior events and sets the stage for the story to be told in this novel.
In Edenborn Sagan revisits the future world of Idlewild eighteen years after the events depicted in that novel when there is a new generation struggling to survive after the Black Ep virus has wiped out all but a handful of humans. What is left of the population is divided into two rival "families". In Germany two of the six remaining adults, the motherly Champagne and the obsessively driven Vashti, are raising a group of "posthumans", biochemically and genetically enhanced young girls. While in Egypt, the spiritually minded Isaac is raising five children of his own, human clones who require medication to keep the plague they carry at bay. As we follow each "family", someone, or something, begins to jeopardize their innocence and a new biological threat moves against them.
With only six remaining adults and fourteen children left in the world you would like to think that those remaining would be able to find a way to work together to rebuild society. Sadly their incompatible ideas of what the future should be and how that future should be achieved means that both camps are separated by much more than geography. In the future imagined in Edenborn, hatred begets hatred just as it does today, endangering the future of all.
Edenborn focuses primarily on the children upon whose shoulders the hope of a future rests, telling the story through first-person narration and although the various narrations do present multiple points of view it is the recitations of two of the characters, Penny and Haji that immediately grab your attention and drive the story.
Penny, an arrogant, self-absorbed adolescent is the polar opposite of her "cousin" Haji, a thoughtful and insightful young man. The stark contrast between their differing philosophies really drives home the differences that divide the two "families" and the more you read the more you find to wonder about which makes Edenborn hard to put down. The strong narrative and sharp thought provoking observations continuously lead to more and more questions, most of which are answered by the end of Edenborn but Sagan does leave a few loose ends as the concluding scenes also lay the groundwork for a final volume Everfree.
While this review was based on the hardcover edition of Edenborn, both Edenborn and the first volume Idlewild are also available in paperback and audio editions. Everfree is due in the summer of 2006.
Jacqueline Bundy reviews Star Trek books for the Trek Nation, writes monthly columns for the TrekWeb newsletter and the Star Trek Galactic News, and hosts the Yahoo Star Trek Books Group weekly chat.