This Other Eden, Paperback
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


SMALL, WELL APPOINTED FUTURE. SEMI DETACHED. If the end of the world is nigh, then surely it's only sensible to make alternative arrangements.

Certainly the Earth has its points, but what most people need is something smaller and more manageable.

Of course there are those who say that's planetary treason, but who cares what the weirdos and terrorists think?

Not Nathan. All he cares is that his movie gets made and that there's somebody left to see it.

In marketing terms the end of the world will be very big.

Anyone trying to save it should remember that.




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Though I'm not sure whether to support the accusation that Ben Elton is a sell-out, I am damn sure that the man is capable of writing an enjoyable satire. I was introduced to his novels a couple of years ago with Blind Faith, a great book, and this one was recommended to me by someone I went to school with. This was just as good, if not better. This Other Eden is one of Elton's early environmental novels. Sometime in the mid-21st century, the Earth is on the verge of being unable to support life any longer. Humans have polluted it, and continue to pollute it, to the point that just about everyone now accepts that the planet is going to die at some point. Many people feel guilty about this, but Plastic Tolstoy has the answer; he has developed and marketed the Claustrosphere, a self-sustaining dome in which people can lock themselves when the 'Rat Run' as it is known in the novel, i.e. the death of the planet, occurs. Then when, or if, the Earth becomes inhabitable again, people will exit their Claustrosphere. These have made people accept the end of the world, despite the efforts of Natura and Mother Earth, an environmentalist political party and eco-terrorist group respectively, to convince people that this is morally abhorrent. The novel follows investigations by an FBI agent, a Mother Earth activist and a movie star into various mysteries surrounding Plastic Tolstoy and his media and business empire, and the aforementioned environmentalist groups led by the charismatic Jurgen Thor. The satire mostly focuses on human attitudes toward the environment, particularly those of the middle classes, the economic system- particularly the idea of economic growth-, the advertising industry, and Hollywood. You could certainly never accuse Ben Elton's satire of being subtle. The man clearly doesn't understand this concept. Elton (mostly) doesn't allow his satire to unfold slowly with plot and various revelations; frequently he just stops the novel for pages at a time in order to rant about various things he hates. Some may find this preachy; I find these sections to be brilliant. It certainly helps that I already agree with Elton on all the things he talks about, but the way Elton writes about these things is just brilliant. Succinct, aggressive and hilarious. The most thought-provoking part of the novel is undoubtedly the brilliant concept of the Claustrosphere. Elton explores the ethical and psychological issues around this technology brilliantly. The story itself takes much longer to become really absorbing. It was only about halfway through the novel that I started to really care about the characters or what was happening to them. But once this occurred, Elton got into top gear and didn't let up for the rest of the novel. Whilst the first half was just okay, the second half was excellent stuff, and the ending was wonderful. Elton's moral is ultimately the same as what it is in Blind Faith; the human race has the ability to be both brilliant and terrible. At the moment it is being controlled by its lesser nature, and perhaps the only way it will change is by experiencing the consequences of its worst actions. This leads to an ending that is both somewhat tragic and hopeful, and overall very effective. I recommend ignoring what most people say about Ben Elton and judging This Other Eden on its own merits, because it really is a great read.

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