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Book Review: The Eden Paradox by Barry Kirwan

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The Eden Paradox, by Barry Kirwan, is an enjoyable read that will be relished by fans of science fiction.

Fifty years into the future, the earth has been maimed by war and is near collapse from heat exhaustion. Scientists have already found the vaccine for AIDS and robot soldiers have quelled rebel invasions. The three-year long World War between the United Secular Nations and the ‘Big Five’ Religious Front countries has left half a billion dead and a shortage of food (beef has hit $300 a kilo), power, and fuel.

Then a new planet is discovered: Eden, a green-purple world bathed in blood-orange sunlight, a planet filled with virgin lakes and forests, a place so beautiful it could be compared to pre-war Switzerland.

Now, the Ulysses, a faster-than-light ship carrying a crew of four astronauts, is on its way to Eden. The venture has given one last hope to mankind. If Eden fails, all humanity will see is an abyss.

Then one of the astronauts begins having strange nightmares about a desert-filled Eden and a horrific creature. The nightmares put the astronauts on edge. After all, there’s reason for concern: Ulysses isn’t the first mission to Eden. There were two before which failed miserably under mysterious circumstances. One stopped transmitting after an hour of arrival; the other one exploded five days before landing. Do the nightmares have any substance or in any way predict the future? What, in reality, is going on in Eden?

The Eden Paradox is a well-written, action-packed, suspenseful novel. Told in multiple points of view separated by chapters, the story moves mainly between two characters: Micah, analyst at Eden Mission Control on earth, and Blake, lead astronaut at the Ulysses. Micah feels he’s being thrust into a vortex of murder, deception and conspiracy; he feels coerced into a probably fatal role in a game he doesn’t understand nor cares about. Blake, on the other hand, is intent on protecting his crew, find out what’s really going on in Eden, and return to earth successfully. In spite of all the action, there are a lot of exposition and backstory in the first few chapters. There are also a lot of characters and it took me a while to identify with any one of them.

However, I have to say that the scenes are very film-like in nature and I felt as if I were watching a movie. Although the plotline is different, the pace and tone reminded me of the Alien series, which are one of my favorites. The author uses a lot of detail to bring his fictional world to life, and in this aspect he was quite successful. In short, even though I’m not an avid fan of sci-fi, I enjoyed the novel and would definitely recommend it to readers of the genre.

A native of Farnborough, England , author Barry Kirwan grew up watching planes at the annual air show. Unable to become an astronaut, he did the next best thing — become a science fiction writer. When he’ not working in air traffic safety, he can be found writing his Eden Trilogy and other stories. Visit him at his website.

About Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. Represented by Serendipity Literary.