Here's a teaser extract from Chris Beckett's Mother of Eden, compliments of the folks at Broadway Books! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.
Here's the blurb:
“We speak of a mother’s love, but we forget her power.” Civilization has come to the alien, sunless planet its inhabitants call Eden. Just a few generations ago, the planet’s five hundred inhabitants huddled together in the light and warmth of the Forest’s lantern trees, afraid to venture out into the cold darkness around them. Now, humanity has spread across Eden, and two kingdoms have emerged. Both are sustained by violence and dominated by men – and both claim to be the favored children of Gela, the woman who came to Eden long ago on a boat that could cross the stars, and became the mother of them all.
When young Starlight Brooking meets a handsome and powerful man from across Worldpool, she believes he will offer an outlet for her ambition and energy. But she has no inkling that she will become a stand-in for Gela herself, and wear Gela’s fabled ring on her own finger—or that in this role, powerful and powerless all at once, she will try to change the course of Eden’s history.
The trouble began on the waking I left Mikey with his dad on the Sand for the first time, and went out gathering bark with my uncle Dixon, my brother Johnny, and my sister Starlight. Johnny had just come back over from Nob Head, and as we paddled through the trees, he told us the news he’d heard there.
“I’ll tell you a really interesting thing,” he said.
Hmmmph hmmmph hmmmph went the tall trees in the water all round us. Everything was the same as it had always been. The sky was black above us. The treelanterns shone. The wavyweed glowed beneath the water.
“Yeah, a really strange thing,” Johnny said. “I didn’t know what to make of it. I was speaking to that guy Harry over there—you know, old clawfoot Harry with the missing fingers?—and he said that blokes have been coming over to Mainground lately from right across far side of Worldpool. Not to Nob Head itself, mind you, but further down alpway to places like Veeklehouse and Brown River. And, if you can believe this, he said they bring metal with them. Not bits of metal from Earth, but metal they’ve found for themselves in the ground here in Eden.”
“Oh, Gela’s heart,” I whispered, suddenly full of dread.
Johnny’s news felt to me like the breeze that came in from Deep Darkness before a storm: It was nothing in itself—all it did was make the lanternflowers sway a little on their branches—but you knew it was just the start. Metal meant change. Metal was some thing to fight over, like the followers of John and David used to fight and fight over that metal ring from Earth. I thought of my little Mikey back on the Sand, and I imagined a storm of blood breaking over him.
But Dixon just laughed.
“You don’t want to believe everything Harry says. He’d tell you a starship had come from Earth if he thought you’d swallow it.”
Splash splash splash went our paddles. And behind the rhythm of our paddles, which was a sound that stopped and started, came and went, was that older rhythm, which never never changed. Hmmmmph hmmmmph hmmmmph went the trees, as they pumped their sap down to the heat of Underworld, far far below.
“It could be true, Uncle,” Starlight said.
She looked at our uncle with those beautiful, sharp gray eyes of hers that always seemed to see right through you. People told me mine were the same, but of course I’d never seen them.
“We know John Redlantern set out to cross Worldpool, don’t we?” she pointed out. “Him and some other Johnfolk. When they got tired of all the fighting on Mainground after Breakup.”
“Yeah. They set out in little log-boats to cross Deep Darkness. But you know what it’s like out there, Starlight. You know how big the waves are. No way could they have made it. No way. Their bones are somewhere out there on the bottom, no doubt about it, along with John’s precious ring.”
“We’ve always thought that,” Starlight said, “because no one has heard from them since. But perhaps they made it after all?”
A little jewel-bat came darting by us just above the water, trail ing its tiny fingertips in the smooth surface.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” said Johnny. “And it wasn’t just Harry who told me. Another guy said the same thing: John and the others did make it across Worldpool, and they figured out how to get metal from the ground.”
“And who was this other bloke, exactly?” Dixon asked with a knowing smile. “Not Harry’s batfaced friend Dave, by any chance?”
Johnny’s face went a bit red.
“Well, yeah, it was Dave, actually. But still. It could be true.”
Again Uncle Dixon snorted.
“It could be. Anything could be, but I’m sure it’s not. Even if John’s lot did make it to the other side, which I’m sure they didn’t, why would they come back? Whole point of going there was to make a new start without the Davidfolk to fight against.”
Splash splash splash. We paddled on. All around us the tall knee trees rose up, straight at first, then bending over toward Main ground and letting down their greeny-yellow lanternflowers over the shallow water. They made me think of mothers bending down over their children. But that waking, when I’d left Mikey behind for the first time, everything made me think of mums and kids.
Johnny had had me worried for a moment, but Dixon made me feel better. It was just a silly story, I decided, and I started to enjoy myself again, out on the water with the lanternflowers and their reflections all around me.
When we were kids, Mum used to tell us to half close our eyes and pretend we were in a starship with the lanternflowers as stars. And in few wombtimes, I would play that same game with Mikey. I imagined him screwing up his little eyes, just like Starlight used to do when she was little. It felt good good, thinking about those childhood pleasures coming round again, specially when I knew I’d give Mikey many many more of them than our mum had been able to give to us.
Uncle Dixon stopped paddling.
“That’s the first one,” he said. “That ought to be good and ready.”
There was a tree ahead of us that had a long oval cut into its bark right at the place where the trunk bent over: the knee, as we called it. We took the boat up to it and Uncle Dixon heaved himself over the side while the three of us leaned the other way to keep the balance.
“Come on then, you lot,” he said. “Let’s get on with it.”