The Child Garden

Geoff Ryman  - published June 2011

June 7, 2011 · trade paper/ebook · 9781931520287 · New Introduction by Wendy Pearson.
2nd printing: May 2021

John W. Campbell & Arthur C. Clarke Award Winner

Following The King’s Last Song, The Child Garden is the second Geoff Ryman title in our list—and it’s by far the furthest out there. Are you ready for polar bear families in London—who have their own black sheep: after all, what can a polar bear mining family do with a daughter who wants to write operas? And what is London to do with a woman who, resistant to the viruses, might be able to provided the cure for the cure for cancer?

In a future, tropical London, humans photosynthesize, organics have replaced electronics, viruses educate people, and very few live past forty. Milena is resistant to the viruses and unable to be Read. She has Bad Grammar. She’s alone until she meets Rolfa, a huge, hirsute Genetically Engineered Polar Woman, and Milena realizes she might, just might, be able to find a place for herself after all.

If you’ve been missing reading about polar bears since finishing Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials books, this is the novel for you. The Child Garden is one of the original biopunk novels: it’s over the top baroque . . . it’s a masterpiece.

Praise for The Child Garden:

“An exuberant celebration of excess set in a resource-poor but defiantly energetic 21st century.”—The New York Times

“I fell in love with this book when Jeff VanderMeer gave it to me for my birthday when we were both at Clarion in 1992. I’ve thought about it more or less constantly ever since.”
—Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing

“Undoubtedly a classic and one of the best novels ever written within the genre.”
SF Site

“A richly absorbing tale—with a marvelous premise expertly carried out.”—Kirkus Reviews

“One of the most imaginative accounts of futuristic bioengineering since Greg Bear’s Blood Music.”—Locus

“A heady novel bursting with speculation.”—Library Journal

“Excellent . . . Dark and witty and full of love, closely observed, and sprinkled with astonishing ideas. Science fiction of a very high order.”—Greg Bear

Praise for Geoff Ryman’s books:

“Ryman—best known as a fantasy writer but one who proved his power as an author of nuanced, rich historical fiction in the unsung novel Was—has not so much created as revealed a world in which the promise of redemption takes seed even in horror.”
Boston Globe

“The novel conveys not merely a story, but the light and darkness, despair and hope, tradition and Westernization that is Cambodia itself…. While peaceful William, war-consumed Map, and Cambodia-loving Luc could easily be flat, typecast characters, Ryman steers clear of such simplifications. Their interwoven histories are at times noble and at times horrifying, laced with profound emotions and punctuated with atrocities…. The King’s Last Song leaves one questioning preconceptions of good and evil, and conflicted between hope for and discouragement with the human race.”
Rain Taxi

“An unforgettably vivid portrait of Cambodian culture past and present.”
Booklist (starred review)

“Ryman’s knack for depicting characters; his ability to tell multiple, interrelated stories; and his knowledge of Cambodian history create a rich narrative that looks at Cambodia’s “killing fields” both recent and ancient and Buddhist belief with its desire for transcendence. Recommended for all literary fiction collections.”
Library Journal

“Inordinately readable . . . extraordinary in its detail, color and brutality.”
The Independent

“Sweeping and beautiful. . . . The complex story tears the veil from a hidden world.”
The Sunday Times

About the Author

Geoff Ryman is the author of the novels The King’s Last Song, Air (a Clarke and Tiptree Award winner), and The Unconquered Country (a World Fantasy Award winner), and the collection Paradise Tales. Canadian by birth, he has lived in Cambodia and Brazil and now teaches creative writing at the University of Manchester in England.