In the far future science-fiction world of Peter F. Hamilton's Night's Dawn trilogy, mankind is divided into two distinct cultural factions, the Adamists and the Edenists.

The Basics

The smaller and more liberal of the two factions, the Edenists base their culture around an advanced knowledge of biotechnology, which they call bitek. All Edenists are extensively genetically modified, or "geneered." Though they remain human, they possess many inheritable physical traits that normal humans do not. The most striking of these is the affinity gene: from conception, Edenists develop a small artificial symbiote in their brains which enables the use of "affinity" - telepathic communication with other Edenists and Edenist bitek creatures. Edenists are also geneered to be able to withstand the stresses of spaceflight more easily than normal humans.

How They Get Around

Edenist starships are genetically engineered spacefaring creatures of nearly human intelligence, known as voidhawks. Voidhawks are symbiotically paired with their Edenist captains for life by way of the affinity bond, and the two actually spend the first months of gestation in the same artificial womb. They are designed to live in space, and cannot fly in an atmosphere - they grow to full size in orbit around gas giants, and by their eighteenth year of life are ready to take their maiden voyage. Eighty percent of their mass consists of specialized organs to create the space-folding effect necessary for FTL travel. They feed and refuel at Edenist space habitats, and are shaped something like enlongated flying saucers.

Where They Live

Edenists live on enormous semi-intelligent bitek space habitats that orbit around gas giants. These habitats are similar to the O'Neill Island Three space colony design, but significantly larger. They harvest raw materials from the planets' rings and drag long conductive cables through their magnetospheres for electrical power. These habitats maintain millions of Edenists in idyllic comfort. They also serve as support bases for the voidhawk fleets. There is one group of Edenists that live on a planetary surface: the people of the ocean world Atlantis live on bitek islands similar to the habitats. There is also one Adamist habitat - the independent nation-state Tranquility, owned by the fantastically wealthy Saldana family.

The Affinity Bond...

When Edenists die, they transfer their personalities and memories into the nearest bitek habitat, where they seem to live on as part of the habitat's governing intelligence. Gradually, their individual identities fade into a gestalt called the habitat personality. Since this process only occurs at the individual's request, Edenists in effect live as long as they want to. This attempt to cheat death is denounced as heresy by all major religions: thus, Edenists are atheistic, or at most possess a new-age kind of spirituality.

...and the Effects Thereof

As a result of their affinity bond with one another, as well as their effective immortality, Edenists are very socially and mentally stable. All mental problems associated with the fear of death are nonexistent among them, and instant, intuitive communication with one another makes it easy for them to get along. They have no governing body; rather, in times of crisis they hold an egalitarian affinity-bond conference. Since all Edenists participate in this meeting equally and instantly, the conference acts as a single entity called "Consensus," which represents the views of the Edenist population as a whole. Disagreements among Edenists are rare, and quickly resolved.

Attitude toward Adamists

Edenists find most Adamists to be backwards, argumentative, and intolerant. Adamists' lack of affinity capability makes it difficult for Edenists to communicate with them, as Edenists are greatly dependent on the affinity bond for normal interaction. Though there has never been actual war between the Adamists and the Edenists, relations are perpetually strained.

Edenists of note include Voidhawk captain Syrinx and founder Wing-Tsit Chong.