Escape Velocity

A curated Collection of Fantasy and Science Fiction Media

Part 2 in the Children of Mother Earth Trilogy - Several years after the failed expedition of the Badenfelder, the Egon of the expansionist Great Badener Empire equips a new fleet of five steam-powered warships to once again set out for the mythical land of Thule. Young linguist Kilian Werfel is attached to the fleet to facilitate intercultural communication. But from the moment the Badeners’ new fleet draws near the paradise island nation, things start going south rapidly.

Listened to the audiobook with Emmelie Zipson. No complaints!

Children of Mother Earth does not have an open ending, exactly, but once you finish it your just know the story isn’t over. You’re left wondering – what would happen if more ships would come? More men with guns? Well, Thea Beckman delivered with Het helse paradijs, the second novel in the trilogy.

Het helse paradijs ramps up the scale of the Badeners’ invasion fivefold, from an armed expedition to a full-blown invasion force. It is sometimes a bit tougher to suspend your disbelief – the Badeners seem a really formidable foe, and it is difficult to imagine a pacifist nation without armed forces of any kind holding them back. And I can promise you that the struggle in this second novel is at least as tough as it was in the first, and even more heart breaking. But Beckman makes it work and keeps you glued to the pages along the way. 

Het helse paradijs expands on the worldbuilding in the first novel, including, specifically, the politics of both the Great Badener Empire and Thule, but it largely gives us more of the same – a matriarchal pacificst solarpunk utopia at war with a patriarchal explansionist military superpower. Het helse paradijs gives us great descriptions of the beautiful landscapes of Thule, the coziness of its cities, and the happiness of its people. And what is not to like about that?

What I particularly like about Het helse paradijs is the switch of perspective. Where Kinderen van Moeder Aarde has a Thulenian as the protagonist, Het helse paradijs features a Badener as the main character. This flips the script entirely: suddenly, the Great Badener Empire is home and Thule is the mysterious foe. From this perspective, even pacifists can seem cruel, and even cruel deeds seem understandable. This turns up the moral pressure, not just on the characters but on the reader as well.

Het helse paradijs is a great sequel, taking the premise of the first novel, raising the stakes and adding a twist. It may not be as original as the first instalment, but it is definitely satisfying to be back in Beckman’s imagination and see how a bigger shipment of soldiers would affect Thule, and how Thule would affect hem.

All that raises the question… we’ve seen one ship, we’ve seen five ships… Will the Badeners send 25 the next time?

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