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Wall Around Eden Hardcover – August, 1989

4.3 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Two decades after a nuclear war, small enclaves survive the destruction of the ozone layer, somewhat protected by walls of air established by the alien floating globes that the radiation-contaminated humans call angelbees. Isabel Garcia-Chase comes of age in Gwynwood in what was formerly Pennsylvania, rebelling against the angelbees, who communicate with humans only through a now-dying Contact and forbid the use of much technology, including radios. The enclaves, the largest of which is in Australia, keep in touch with each other through the angelbee-operated Pylons which provide instantaneous transmission. While Isabel and others believe the angelbees either caused the devastation or at least exacerbated it, the Quakers who mostly populate Gwynwood see them as saviors. After an act of rebellion, Isabel and her new husband, Daniel Scattergood, are taken into the Pylon and they begin to learn more about the aliens. Slonczewski ( Still Forms on Foxfield ) writes a thoughtful and unusual after-the-holocaust novel, strongly infused with the Quaker outlook. Its slow but careful pace rewards the reader with such beautifully developed characters as Peace Hope Scattergood, born without hands and a talented painter, and a hopeful view of humanity and its future.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In the wake of the Death Year's atomic holocaust, an alien invasion imposes a kind of peace upon the survivors of a shattered Earth until a small community of Quakers decides to confront the saviors with their own version of resistance. The author of A Door into Ocean ( LJ 12/1/85) juxtaposes the horrors of nuclear aftermath and the persistence of human hope with rare skill and grace. Recommended for sf collections.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Co; 1st edition (August 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557100306
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557100306
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #187,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By TammyJo Eckhart VINE VOICE on May 21, 2015
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
If you want an easy science fiction read, Joan Slonczewski is never the author for you. But if you want a science fiction read heavy on the biological sciences and tackle complex social issues, Slonczewski may well be worth your time.

"The Wall Around Eden" is a stand alone novel that takes place 20 years after the "6 Minute War" in a not-too-distant (which is now our past given that this book came out in 1989). Our main character is Isabel, a very smart young woman who has idealized the past she never knew and wants to fight back against aliens who have trapped her small American town behind a dome of air. Isabel's life is one of conflicting facts that she learns in "school" and from books and the rumors about the war and the aliens. These conflicting sources of information are one of the most challenges aspects of the book for the reader because we ourselves can never know what is real, what is imagined, and what is observed.

The town of Gwynwood Hill is doing okay considering that right outside their air dome they can see hundreds if not thousands of skeletons of humans and animals who died during Nuclear Winter. Life isn't easy but for some reason their alien "captors" allow some trade between themselves and the city of Sydney in Australia. We learn that there are other generally small enclaves of likewise air domed communities but one of the greatest mysteries of the book is why Sydney, such a large urban center, would be allowed to survive let alone allowed to trade if the aliens had committed genocide against humanity (the most common of the rumors).
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A small community is isolated when the world blows up, and only a few enclaves are saved by aliens. Did the aliens cause this? What are the survivors to do?

The enclaves are somewhat protected from the toxicity of the rest of the world, but not entirely; radiation in groundwater makes all their water and crops dangerous... and yet, one must eat.

What did the aliens do? What do they think they're doing now? Everyone wonders, and diverse people react very differently to the situations.

This is not a save-the-universe sort of novel; it's more meditative and human-scale. Characters grow and change; the aliens may or may not be more comprehensible; and the plot threads weigh different factors with understandable flaws all around.

In short, I guess I'd call it a novel about curiosity and compromise.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is an interesting combination of pacifist-Quaker tract, coming of age novel, and post-holocaust science fiction. The story is set in a near future after a nuclear holocaust-nuclear winter. There are small colonies of survivors in communities maintained by enigmatic aliens, whom some survivors suspect of triggering the holocaust. The main character is a young woman coming to maturity in a community of survivors in Pennsylvania, a community where many survivors are Quakers. The point of the story is the necessity of pacifism and Quaker respect for life beliefs. The characterization is convincing and the author's depiction of this future is equally convincing. The quality of writing is very good.
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Format: Paperback
This is an odd one for me. I'm giving it three stars because even though I thought some aspects of it were well done and other aspects of it are things I really respect, I also didn't enjoy reading it. Part of that is due to one of the things I paradoxically respect: the author spent a LOT of time and energy making it very clear exactly how much things sucked for her protagonist and those in her world, and while I'm glad she didn't skimp on the details of, you know, how living in a post-nuclear-disaster world means living with the inevitability of aggressive cancer and a 20% infant mortality rate, it also just wasn't enjoyable to read (for me) because of the emphasis put on that. The first dozen or so chapters involve the protagonist flitting about between things she wants to do and fires she has to put out and sort of weird excuses to exposition us (I thought the exposition toward the beginning was particularly cringeworthy, but it got better). It sort of felt like there were too many balls in the air all the time. This book was an odd recipe that combines college-level physics concepts with a mish-mash of religious parables and spiritual symbols. I just wasn't quite sure if it was trying to tell me something important with all its parallels or if the lack of cohesiveness was meant to tell me I should take whatever messages I wanted from it.

More stuff I didn't care for:

* Characters talked out loud about things that happened years ago with no particular impetus as a method of exposition, and that drove me up the wall.

* The book uses mental age to discuss intellectually disabled people and immediately cast intellectually disabled people as not worth having around. Being intellectually disabled is portrayed as much worse than having an illness.
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