Title- The Door of Eden
Author- Adrian Tchaikovsky @aptshadow
Publisher- Tor Books
Publication Date- 28 August 2020
Comments- I received a free copy from Tor Books and Jamie-Lee Nardone in exchange for an honest review. All views are my own.
Addendum- I also downloaded the audio book from Netgalley to listen to.
Lee’s best friend went missing on Bodmin Moor, four years ago. She and Mal were chasing rumours of monsters when they found something all too real. Now Mal is back, but where has she been, and who is she working for?
When government physicist Kay Amal Khan is attacked, the security services investigate. This leads MI5’s Julian Sabreur deep into terrifying new territory, where he clashes with mysterious agents of an unknown power who may or may not be human. And Julian’s only clue is some grainy footage – showing a woman who supposedly died on Bodmin Moor.
Khan’s extradimensional research was purely theoretical, until she found cracks between our world and countless others. Parallel Earths where monsters live. These cracks are getting wider every day, so who knows what might creep through? Or what will happen when those walls finally come crashing down…
Lee and Mal fancied themselves the next biggest thing in Cryptid catchers. They were going to be famous for getting the best picture of the Loch Ness Monster or Big foot. So when Mal finds an odd YouTube video of a strange bird-like man in Bodmin, the two of them head out immediately to check it out.
But strange things happen on the moors and suddenly Mal is gone, lost to Lee forever. or so she thinks.
Four years later she receives a call from her lost girlfriend and heads to London only to get caught in a battle to save, not just this universe, but all of them.
MI5’s Agent Alison Matchell’s analysis into the physics of cybersecurity supposed to be dull but now her computer is trying to communicate with her and her latest case involves a missing Defense Science and Technology Doctor with more than a passing interest in artificial intelligence of Cryptic data transference.
Julian Sabreur just wants everything to be put in its neat little boxes. But when there are huge neanderthal-esque people popping up all over England, Rat-people flooding the sewers and a Giant Cockroach flying over London- well, what’s a government agent to do?
Good heavenly Lord this is a large book.
Like, when it dropped onto my mat, I thought it would kill the cat…
…except I don’t have a cat. But if I did it would have squished poor Felix flat.
Coming in at 597 pages, I think it is one of the longest books I’ve read in a while. It’s also one of the most inventive, interesting and vocabulary expanding.
And by that I mean that I had to read it with a dictionary. Not even kidding.
A few words that I had to look up- Anomalocarid. Flenshed. Carapace. Atavism. Telomerase. Sessile. Maquette. Profundo.
Mr. Tchaikovsky is not afraid to use big words and occasionally I did feel a little dumb as I struggled to understand some of the scientific explanations.
Interspersed throughout the book is a detailed Essay of Speculative Evolution written by Dr. Ruth Emerson. It details all of the different ways that intelligent life could have evolved and adapted throughout the different epochs of Earth’s history. For instance what if those tiny single-celled amoebae gained sentience and built an underwater fortress and farmed paramecium for battle drones (okay maybe not that one).
I thought that these little excerpts were fascinating and several times I wished I had any sort of artistic inclination as I wanted to draw the creatures and their environment that were conjured up. Sadly, I draw about as well as I sing, which is enthusiastically but without talent or accuracy so I was left to only imagine the wonderful entities formed by Mr. Tchaikovsky.
I know that humans have a tendency to anthropomorphize things because we base everything on our own experience, so I really enjoyed seeing the ‘other wordly’ creatures from various human’s point of view. Cam and Etril, for example, were seen so differently from Khan as opposed to Rove. Khan saw intelligence and cooperation whereas Rove just saw the ‘other’ about them. My heart almost broke when we were shown what Dr. Rat’s valuable things were.
Every character did great service to the story and none of them were pure evil or pure good. they were all levels of grey and flawed and it made it so easy to get to know and appreciate them.
The book had a lot of diverse voices, from Khan’s transgender to Mal and Lee’s lesbianism and the various cultural alt-norms of the Nissa and the Cousins. But none of it felt forced or added in as placating the demographic. It felt real and honest.
Parallel worlds, alternate timelines, different biology and monsters, spies and space?
Seriously I think this checked all of the boxes. Is it Sci-fi, is is it fantasy? It it linear non-fiction? Just where in the heck am I supposed to shelve this one?
I loved every intertwining aspect of this tale, from the human heart to the cockroachy membranes.
I am going to hold my hand up and say that at times I was completely lost in the scientific stream. I could just about keep up with the biology of the panoply of evolution- provided that I had Google to show me exactly what Ediacara was supposed to look like.
But once the great Icy Consciousness started to speak of tree threads and how they were having a cosmic groundhog day my brain shut down. As much as I loved the divergent timelines I wasn’t entirely sure how it was happening and that made me sort of miss how they fixed it all.
If they even did. Depending on which timeline you are reading this in. (Ha, see what I did there.)
I loved it. I would give it a full 5 stars but have to deduct one point as it fell on my head while I was reading it and nearly gave me concussion.
Also because it was such a mammoth tome I couldn’t cart it to work and back so I only got to read it when I was home which meant it was a much slower read than I would usually do. I tried downloading the audiobook from Netgalley to listen to but didn’t get on with the narrator. I felt like I was back in science class and could feel my fingers itching for an elastic band to flick at the substitute teacher.
That said I really did enjoy this book and would heartily recommend it to anyone, especially anyone interested in Cryptozoology or biology.
With hugest thanks to Mr. Tchiakovsky and Tor books and Ms Nardone for the opportunity to read this mammoth undertaking, I am truly grateful.
And shall be using Flenshed in conversation far more often.