The Gates of Eden: Interesting ideas about evolution and species diversity

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The Gates of Eden by Brian Stableford science fiction book reviewsThe Gates of Eden by Brian Stableford SF book reviewsThe Gates of Eden by Brian Stableford

Lee Caretta is a geneticist who has been sent, along with a xenobiologist, to the newly discovered planet of Naxos to investigate the mysterious deaths of the first exploratory team to arrive on the planet. As far as anyone knows, there are no sentient species on Naxos, but Lee and his colleagues will learn that there is life on Naxos, and it is strange and dangerous.

But it’s not only the new planet that is hostile. There is some political and personal intrigue going on, too, and it might be just as deadly. Lee will be hard-pressed to discover the planet’s secrets, as well as the humans’ secrets, before it’s too late.

The Gates of Eden (1983) is an entertaining, tense, and pretty quick read. I was interested in the planet’s ecology and I wanted to know what killed the exploratory team. Lee has some thoughtful ideas about evolution, natural selection, and species diversity. I liked these parts of the novel best.

I am not sure why Brian Stableford chose to cripple his protagonist with hallucinatory blackouts. It didn’t add anything crucial to the plot and, in fact, seemed to interrupt it without cause. Toward the end, Lee explains the traumatic event that caused this disorder. It involves a horrible rape scene that just didn’t seem necessary to include. The story did not need Lee to have this condition.

The audiobook version of The Gates of Eden was published in 2012 by Wildside Press. Paul Heitsch does a very nice job with the narration. The audiobook is 5.5 hours long.

Published in 1983. Despite the development of a faster-than-light drive, Earth’s space program has been in the doldrums for centuries, as has Earth itself. Hyperspace being impossible to navigate without beacons at which to aim, there is no alternative but to wait for vessels sent out at sub-light speed decades previously to find somewhere worth going. Unfortunately, when a worthwhile planet finally turns up, it doesn’t take long for political conflicts to materialize over its exploitation. Then, when an entire survey team perishes, the problems intensify. Lee Caretta is the man most likely to solve the problem — if his conflict-ridden employers will let him, if he can keep his tendency to suffer unexplained blackouts under control, and if the world really is sufficiently Earth-like not to be deadly to the explorers. And then the humans begin to die once more!

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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3 comments

  1. I think this jacket is a candidate for “rename this horrible cover.” It’s not the worst, by any means, but… yikes.

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