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Eden (Helen & Kurt Wolff Book) Paperback – October 31, 1991


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Product Details

  • Series: Helen & Kurt Wolff Book
  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (October 31, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156278065
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156278065
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #971,913 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After crash-landing on an alien planet known as Eden, the crew of a spaceship begins to explore--and hopelessly misinterpret--the strange surroundings. In this ``stylistic departure from his usual satirical, antic approach. . . . Lem creates an intricately detailed exotic environment in a thoughtful, often exciting story,'' said PW.

Copyright 1991 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

When their space ship crash lands on the planet Eden, six men confront their disturbing new environment and its unfathomable life forms. The author of One Hu man Minute (LJ 2/15/86) skillfully portrays an all-too-real encounter with a truly alien intelligence. This stark space parable by Poland's leading sf writer belongs in comprehensive sf collections.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

As you would expect in a Lem story, what's learned is far from certain and of dubious usefulness.
Philip Challinor
The characters don't seem like reasonable personalities for this kind of a journey, and none of them feels like a real person.
Dave
Read "Eden" if you want a taste of Lem - it's modestly entertaining - but don't expect to be blown away.
Alex

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Philip Challinor on May 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
A spaceship with a six-man crew crash-lands on Eden, an unsurveyed planet. The first part of the book details the men's efforts to dig out and repair their ship, working at first with nothing more than their ingenuity and bare hands. Eventually, the crew begin to explore, and wander through a gorgeously evoked, haunting landscape - the first of many brilliantly conceived alien worlds from Lem's mature imagination. Amusingly, the three scientists on board - the Physicist, the Chemist and the Cyberneticist - are the minor characters, good mainly for emotional outbursts and comic relief, while the other three characters - the Captain, the Engineer and the Doctor - are the fleshed-out human beings who do most of the acting, thinking and arguing. The explorers come across an insane "factory" in which apparently useless products are manufactured and then destroyed; they witness what appears to be a horrific massacre; they film, from a distance, the activity in one of the aliens' cities; and they cause, quite inadvertently and with no intentions but the best, a fairly substantial amount of death, destruction and general harm. Finally, they are able to communicate with one of the aliens, who gives them some idea of the planet's social system and history. As you would expect in a Lem story, what's learned is far from certain and of dubious usefulness. Eden is a wholly original, beautifully written horror story that deserves to be far better known. The last line is one of the most moving, disturbing and subtly horrific I've seen, bearing out the grim irony of the novel's title and the planet's name. Written in 1959, two years before Lem's more famous book, Eden deserves to rank with Solaris as one of his greatest works.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Michael Battaglia on December 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
I've only read three books by Lem counting this one and while nothing so far has bypassed Solaris as his absolute masterpiece, for me it's a step up from the strangely dense Fiasco. As in those two books the theme here is the one that Lem seems to count as his favorite, that we should not assume that because we are smart and can get into space and across stars, that we can automatically "understand" any alien life that we come across, or even start to fit what we see into established human preconceptions. Fortunately this is an excellent theme to explore and one rarely dealt with in SF, so Lem easily finds new wrinkles to explore every time he writes about it, even if the conclusions wind up being nearly the same every time. In this novel, six explorers crashland on the planet Eden and while trying to fix their spaceship and get off they find that the planet is home to a civilization that seems to make absolutely no sense. They keep coming across odd artifacts, a strange factory, a graveyard, weird villages, all of which they try to quantify through human theories that they wind up discarding anyway because they can't hope to explain what they're seeing. Most of the book is just strange, unexplainable event piled on strange unexplainable event . . . perhaps because I read it in spurts this approach never becomes wearying, or maybe it's the constant combinations of interactions between the six characters, three of which comes across as fully rounded human beings (The Captain, the Doctor and the Engineer, the only one who seems to have a proper name, oddly enough) while the Chemist, the Physicist and the Cyberneticist mostly just take up space and are there for the main three to argue with, that keeps the plot moving along and engaging.Read more ›
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
Almost all of Lem's science fiction centers around one or two variations of one theme. The theme is "What is intelligence?" and the two variations are "What would robotic life be like?" and "What would a truly alien intelligence be like?" "Eden" is in the second group. A party of explorers arrives on an alien world and wanders around trying to make sense of it. The subtext of "Eden" is that it could really be a description of Earth as viewed through completely fresh eyes. In a typical scene the explorers wander into a valley of flowers. When approached the blooms suddenly take flight. Lem leaves it to the reader to realize a visitor to Earth might make the same mistake about butterflys. Like many of Lem's works the book is really a work of philosophy and somewhat abstract: the explorers do not even have names, just job descriptions. By the standards of any other science fiction author this book deserves 5 stars, I only give it 4 because I prefer "Solaris" and "Fiasco" with which "Eden" should be grouped (along with the more difficult "His Master's Voice") as books about contact (Sagan's "Contact" is clearly based on "His Master's Voice").
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By H&W on March 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is only the second Stan Lem book I've read (Solaris being the first), and here, once again, Lem captures the utter strangeness of an alien world and its utterly strange inhabitants. As others have mentioned, Lem chooses to identify the crew members by profession rather than by name, with one exception. I'm not sure of his reason for this, but my guess is that he was trying to show the tendency of humans to comparmentalize, and, subsequently, to show how this could present a barrier to understanding alien beings. Here, Lem presents a well-thought-out alien atmosphere, with "doublers" living in a society that we can barely imagine. The most interesting parts of the story were the various planetary explorations performed by the men, both on foot and by ground vehicle. It is rare, at least in my experience, to encounter an author who can describe such strange places in such fine and honest detail. I also enjoyed Lem's take on the human contamination of such worlds. Recommended for those who enjoy exploratory, adventure-type science fiction with a philosophical twist.
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