Genesis is certainly the best known of my novels, and those who come across it first often assume I’m a sci-fi writer. Genesis is a book that took both a long and short time to write. Although the actual manuscript was written in 2005, while I was on a study year working in a genetics lab, it was an idea I’d been kicking around for the three years prior.

The initial concept, a man and a machine trapped together in a prison cell, came to me early on in the process, on the back of reading a large number of popular science and philosophy books, things like The Blind Watchmaker and Consciousness Explained. I hadn’t studied much science at school, and had the predictable zealotry of a late convert. I became eager to find a story that would deliver up some of the key concepts to a teenage audience.

Unfortunately, all my early attempts to craft the story failed quite quickly, usually within the first ten thousand words, and were abandoned. In 2004 I wrote a play, Afterlife, which was close to the core scenario on the novel, with the man and machine in a cell (in the stage version the machine was chained to the wall). My trouble, when it came to writing the novel, was finding a way of getting to this key relationship quickly. I found I was spending far too much time developing the world and its rules, a result of being inexperienced in the genre.

I returned to the novel in 2005 only because the book I was trying to write at that time stalled, and I was killing time. I tried using an oral examination as the set-up, with the candidate looking back on the events in the book and answering questions on them. Immediately I realised this technique was going to give me the relatively rapid entry into the world of Adam and Art that I was after. I also saw it offered up another layer of revelation and twist at the end, and I’m sure it’s precisely this twist that propelled the novel out of the regional market and into the world. Having spent a great deal of time writing and directing plays, the essentially theatrical device allowed me to write the whole thing as dialogue, which is the style of writing I’m most comfortable with.

Consequently the novel, in its final incarnation, came together very quickly, I think in about three months. After publication I was happily surprised to see it caught up in the cresting wave of dystopian fiction, evidence again of how little control we have over the twists and turns of our careers. In fact, the dystopian element of Genesis is incidental, serving only to ground the technological change I needed to set up the central conflict, but I’m not complaining.

 Genesis essay download:    Level 2 Essay notes for Genesis

Text Publishing Genesis page

Text Publishing reading group resource

Text Publishing teaching resource

12 thoughts on “Genesis

  1. Sandra says:

    I love this book…I recomended it to many friends and all of them liked it a lot. The end and the easy understanding of the book it’s amazing. It is a pleasure to reread it 🙂

  2. Annika Wäsche says:

    Dear Mr Beckett,
    I love your book and would like to discuss it with a school group I am currently tutoring. Unfortunately the materials you linked here don’t seem to be available any longer (reading and teaching group resource). Would it maybe be possible to acquire those via email ? Best Annika

  3. HI Annika

    There seems to have been a rejuggle at the publisher’s website end. If you click on the link to the Text Publishing Genesis page, there is a further link on that page to the original teaching notes. Hope that helps.



  4. Linton Plattner says:

    Hi! I read this nook for a class and really loved it! What was your inspiration for writing this book?

  5. Ben says:

    I read this book in my Masters degree and loved it! I am using it this year at an International School I teach at in the Philippines. Do you think it would be good for a Grade 8 class?

    • Hi Ben

      Glad ot know you enjoyed it, and lovely to think of it being taught in The Philippines. I suspect it could work at Grade 8, but every class is different, as you doubtless know. Good luck with it.


  6. Lilith says:

    Dear Mr.Beckett,

    We´ve read your book and we loved it!
    We have to do a school project which deals with your book.
    We would be very happy, if you could tell us why you`ve written a book about this topic.
    Do you think the vision from the book are relevant for todays society?

    Greetings from Germany 🙂
    Lilith and Nico

  7. Eric Walker says:

    Hello Mr. Beckett,

    My name is Eric Walker and I am a grade 7 humanities teacher in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. I came across Genesis a few years ago and fell in love with it. I had recently finished a Masters degree in History and the story of Anax defending her “thesis” really spoke to me. Just recently I started a book podcast at my school with a couple other teachers and used Genesis as my first book choice to discuss. Both of the teachers read it and absolutely adored it. I also reread it for the podcast and was extremely impressed by the subtle clues throughout the story that point towards the ending. We’re now working to get more students to read it, but access to your books is quite limited here in Canada. I had to have August specially ordered at our public library so that I could read it as well.

    I was wondering if there were any Biblical links to the use of the name Adam as your “last” man compared to the first man in the Bible? Also, if you had any words of wisdom that we could share on the podcast about reading or writing that would be wonderful. Our audience is middle school and high school kids (grades 7-12). Hopefully this website still reaches you. Thanks for your contributions to YA literature and I look forward to tracking down more of your work.

    Eric Walker
    Medicine Hat, AB

  8. Adriana says:

    Dear Bernard,
    I am a biomedicine PHD student from Spain, and I can surely say your book touched me very deeply. The way it is explained and the way in makes you think about subjects like history, dystopian societies, science and such blew my mind. Will definitely reread it in the future.
    Also, it made me very nervous about my upcoming thesis defense haha
    Thank you very much for this piece of art, can’t wait to read your other novels!

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