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Beckett's Genesis

A book by Bernard Beckett

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Well-done execution of a sci-fi staple theme, but with a very impressive ending...

  • Aug 28, 2009
A friend of mine last week recommended that I pick up Genesis by Bernard Beckett. A novella at 150 pages, he said it was a good read with an excellent ending. So, the library had a copy available and it was sent to my local branch within a day or two. I started reading last night, and finished it today. He was right... it's an interesting read dealing with a fair amount of philosophy, but the ending caught me totally off-guard. I was even thinking I knew what the ending would be since he had tipped me to a major twist. Nope... didn't see that one coming.

An all-out world war started in 2050, and ended with most all the inhabitants of the planet being killed off. That is, except for those who had followed a leader named Plato who had purchased a group of islands at the bottom of the world. He set up his own Republic, shaped the society, and built a secure border defense to kill anyone who tried to make it to the island as a refugee. A rogue leader on the island, Adam Forde, broke this "take no refugees" rule one time when he helped a defenseless young girl breech the sea fence instead of killing her on sight. The event and the subsequent trial and death of Forde form much of the mythology of the society.

Anaximander is a resident of the Republic, and she's trying to gain admittance into the Academy, the ruling board of the Republic. She is having her admittance exam in front of three examiners, and she has four hours to expound on a particular topic as they grill and scrutinize her. She's chosen to discuss the history of Forde and offer up an alternative analysis of his death and its meaning. Although controversial, her presentation and work in front of the panel is going well until the questioning takes an expected turn. This new information forces her to reexamine everything she thought she knew about the Republic and the role that Forde played in shaping the life she currently lives.

In terms of plot, there isn't a lot of action. There's the singular event that caused all the initial problems. Everything after that is dialogue and philosophical discussions, both on the part of Amaximander and in the recreation of Forde's life behind bars after being arrested. The topics are interesting, however, and watching Forde being broken down bit by bit was fascinating. But what made the book for me was the ending. After finishing the book and digesting the end, I almost wanted to start the book over again and reread it with the new perspective. I'm sure the book would have been just as interesting the second time around...

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More Genesis (book) reviews
review by . December 10, 2009
Anaximander, with the help of a tutor, has been studying in order to take the four-hour exam she must pass in order to become a member of The Academy. This book is mostly a transcript to her oral exam before a three judge panel.    I found Mr. Beckett's writing style unique as the whole story is told mostly through Anax's interview with The Academy elders and through several flashbacks. Through this interview we learn what has become of the world after wars and a deadly plague …
review by . June 15, 2009
I was a bit concerned when I ordered this book. I have a thing for post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction, but would I like a book that is supposedly geared towards the teen market? After reading "Genesis" I have to wonder about whomever it was that decided this book should be geared towards said market. This novel is highly philosophical and therefore seems more geared towards older readers (late teens, adults such as myself).    But let's put aside the brief market discussion …
review by . May 03, 2009
Genesis is an amazing and original book, I've never read anything like it before, granted I'm new to the dystopian genre. The book really challenges a lot of ideas that we never even think about because we think we already know the answers, I liked how much philosophy was in the book. I also really liked the author's take on what our world could evolve into in the not too distant future.     The way the book was structured was very interested, basically the whole history of this …
review by . April 10, 2009
  This small book is inherently provocative as it plunges into the distant future, 2075, when the world as we know it has finally spiraled into paranoia and endless wars in an orgy of self-destruction. Even for the common good, countries have been unable to overcome their mutual distrust. The result is The Republic, an area separated from a disintegrating world by a great sea wall, intruders scarce after years of war and plague outside the barrier. The structured society of the Republic …
About the reviewer
Thomas Duff ()
Ranked #42
Thomas Duff, aka "Duffbert", is a long-time member of the Lotus community. He's primarily focused on the development side of the Notes/Domino environment, currently working for a large insurance … more
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ISBN-10: 0547225490 (hbk.)
ISBN-13: 9780547225494 (hbk.)
Author: Bernard Beckett
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Date Published: April 20, 2009
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