Lee Caretta is a geneticist who has been sent, along with a xenobiologist, to the newly discovered planet of Naxos to investigate the mysterious deaths of the first exploratory team to arrive on the planet. As far as anyone knows, there are no sentient species on Naxos, but Lee and his colleagues will learn that there is life on Naxos, and it is strange and dangerous.
But it’s not only the new planet that is hostile. There is some political and personal intrigue going on, too, and it might be just as deadly. Lee will be hard-pressed to discover the planet’s secrets, as well as the humans’ secrets, before it’s too late.
The Gates of Eden (1983) is an entertaining, tense, and pretty quick read. I was interested in the planet’s ecology and I wanted to know what killed the exploratory team. Lee has some thoughtful ideas about evolution, natural selection, and species diversity. I liked these parts of the novel best.
I am not sure why Brian Stableford chose to cripple his protagonist with hallucinatory blackouts. It didn’t add anything crucial to the plot and, in fact, seemed to interrupt it without cause. Toward the end, Lee explains the traumatic event that caused this disorder. It involves a horrible rape scene that just didn’t seem necessary to include. The story did not need Lee to have this condition.
The audiobook version of The Gates of Eden was published in 2012 by Wildside Press. Paul Heitsch does a very nice job with the narration. The audiobook is 5.5 hours long.