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Marooned on Eden by Robert L. Forward
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Marooned on Eden (edition 1993)

by Robert L. Forward (Author)

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1363135,304 (3.5)5
Member:GVassmer
Title:Marooned on Eden
Authors:Robert L. Forward (Author)
Info:Baen (1993), 384 pages
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Marooned on Eden by Robert L. Forward

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Nice gentle story, They get marooned, they work on getting along, meet a new life-form. It was a nice relaxing read. Just what I was in the mood for. ( )
  nx74defiant | May 14, 2018 |
Marooned on Eden is the fourth book detailing the exploration of the Barnard's Star system that began with Flight of the Dragonfly (or the expanded version of that story titled Rocheworld), and continued in Return to Rocheworld and Ocean Under the Ice. In this volume, the explorers set out to study Zuni, an Earth-like moon of the gas giant Gargantua.

The plot itself is fairly basic. The crew of the Prometheus is split with half going to Zuni to explore (along with the aquatic alien flowen), and the remainder staying on board to conduct further studies of Gargantua's moon system. The exploratory crew crashes and sinks their landing vehicle, and has no way to return. Due to losses in equipment sustained in previous volumes, the Prometheus has no way to rescue them. The stranded crew must learn to survive with only those items they (and the flowen) can salvage from the submerged ship. The planet is improbably hospitable to human life, and the crew finds friendly intelligent life on the planet in short order and is able to establish communication improbably easily. Eventually, several of the women in the stranded expedition decide that stone-age living conditions on an alien world makes for the perfect setting to get pregnant and have babies.

The book has several structural problems. The first is that in previous books it is established that the various technological comforts the crew has available have served to allow them to psychologically isolate themselves from one another (a response to the prolonged close living conditions aboard the Prometheus). One of the themes of the book appears to be that when the technology is stripped away, the stranded crewmates have to reestablish their relationships with one another. Unfortunately, this means that the book starts off with a bunch of characters that interact with one another almost not at all - making the beginning a series of extended internal monologues. Needless to say, this makes the book start off very slow. Annoyingly, after the crewmates begin interacting in the middle section of the book, the pace of the action quickens to such an extent that the last few chapters consist of journal entries by one of the crewmates covering large swaths of time - effectively more internal monologues.

A second problem is that this is the fourth book in the series covering the exploration of Barnard's Star, and the crew is only now getting around to exploring the Earth-like planet. In previous books they explored the weird double planet labeled Rocheworld, and the ice covered moon closest to Gargantua. In this book, one spends a lot of time wondering why they didn't think to explore this Eden-like planet first, and explore the bizarre and hostile worlds later.

As usual for this series, communication with the alien beings the crew finds proves to be improbably easy. The aliens - mobile trees with detachable eyes and hands - pick up human language easily, and prove to be friendly, just like the flowen on Rocheworld. Oddly, for a book about exploring an alien world and communicating with alien life, remarkably little time is spent dealing with these creatures, mostly because it proves to be absurdly easy.

The ease of life on the planet and the ease with which the stranded crew communicate with the alien life sets the stage for one of the more tedious parts of the book, as several of the female crewmembers decide that they want to have babies. Instead of material concerning the exploration of an alien planet and establishing relations with a inhuman form of life, the final portion of the novel treats the reader to a sort of cut rate romance novel, almost as if someone decided to tack on some poorly thought out Jane Austen fan fiction.

Because Forward is solidly in the hard science fiction camp, all of the phenomena and alien life forms are possible. The trouble with the book is that they are generally so improbable (and it is even more improbable that they would all coexist in the moon system of a single gas giant) as to make the book difficult to believe. Much of the science is glossed over, unlike previous books, a development I attribute to the existence of a coauthor for this book. In the end, I was left with questions, but little resolution and I expect that Rescued from Paradise, the final book in the series, won't answer them. As a result, although this is a competent hard science fiction novel, it leaves a fair amount to be desired. ( )
  StormRaven | Feb 13, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Forward, Robert L.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Forward, Martha Dodsonmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Mattingly, David B.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0671721801, Mass Market Paperback)

Armed with millions of years worth of technological innovations, the scientists embark on their mission to Barnard's Star and Rochenworld.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:59 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

They were on a lifelong mission to explore the star nearest Earth. And what wonders they found orbiting Barnard's Star: an incredible two-planet system that shared a single atmosphere. But the scientists weren't prepared to be marooned on an alien landscape of great beauty and subtle threat. . . .

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