Paperback: 384pp

Published: Lightning Books (June 2023)

ISBN: 9781785633546

In the Beginning

Simon Edge


From the author of The End of the World is Flat

The Terg wars are over. Now meet the Yerfs

‘A coruscating satire on currently trendy anti-science lunacy’

Richard Dawkins

When Tara Farrier returns to the UK after a long spell as an aid worker in war-torn Yemen, she’s hoping for a well-deserved rest.

But a cultural battleground has emerged while she’s been away, and she’s unprepared for the sensitivities of her new colleagues at an international thinktank. A throwaway reference to volcanic activity millions of years ago gets her into hot water and she discovers she belongs to the group reviled by fashionable activists as ‘Young Earth Rejecting Fascists’, or ‘Yerfs’. Faster than she can say ‘Tyrannosaurus Rex’, she is at the centre of a gruelling legal drama.

In the keenly awaited follow-up to his acclaimed The End of the World is Flat, Simon Edge stabs once again at modern crank beliefs and herd behaviour with stiletto-sharp satire.


Pray to whoever you please.

Believe whatever you like.

Embrace whichever cultural heritage appeals to you.

Live your best life in peace and security.

But force women out of their jobs for stating that geology is real?

#IStandWithTara #ThisIsNotADrill



Polly arrived at the library on the stroke of seven o’clock and slid into her usual seat in the meeting room upstairs, just as Elias, the teacher, cleared his throat and stood up to address the class.

‘This evening I’d like to do another spontaneous writing exercise,’ he said. ‘Here and now. Each of you should work on your own, individually. And for the subject, I’d like you to devise a creation myth.’

‘A what?’ whispered Harmony, an older woman, who always sat near Polly at the rear of the room and often struggled to hear what Elias said.

‘A creation myth,’ their teacher repeated, louder. ‘Is everyone clear what I mean by that?’

A few heads nodded, but not all. Elias beamed at his students. He did that a lot, Polly had noticed. Perhaps it was a cover for nervousness.

‘I mean an origin story for the world around us,’ he said. ‘All religions have them, don’t they? In the Christian tradition, God created heaven and earth in six days, rested on the seventh, then he created Adam in the Garden of Eden, and Eve from Adam’s rib; after that came Cain and Abel, Noah’s Ark, yada yada yada. The Ancient Greeks believed that three primordial deities sprang forth out of chaos and gave birth to all the other gods. In Africa and Asia there were all kinds of other myths, and so on. Right?’

‘Right,’ someone said.

‘So I’d like you to write your own. Some explanation for how the world around us came into existence. It can be as off-the-wall as you like. Really let your imagination fly.’

Sophie, who sat near the front and always took everything literally, raised her hand. ‘Can we do the Big Bang?’

True to form, Elias beamed, even though he obviously thought it was a stupid idea. ‘You can do whatever you like. Try and make it creative, though. This isn’t a physics class. We’re doing what it says on the tin tonight. Creative writing about creation.’

Someone obliged him by laughing, but not Polly. She wanted to raise her hand and ask a question. What are we going to learn from this? That sounded harsh but, six weeks into this course, she was beginning to think Elias wasn’t a very good teacher. After all, this wasn’t a proper college. Just an evening class run by the borough. And when she’d googled ‘Elias Vasiliou’ all she could find was a self-published collection of short stories that had just two reviews on Amazon, both of them three stars. Polly was by no means convinced this guy was qualified to run a creative writing course.

‘Is everybody clear?’ Elias was saying. ‘Good. In that case, off you go. You’ve got forty minutes, and then at the end we’ll read a couple of them out, so we can critique them.’

All the heads went down. Polly glowered at the exercise pad in front of her. For the moment, all she could think of was Elias’ lesson plan. Make them write something: 40 mins. Brilliant for him; only another hour or so to fill at the end. She sighed and tried to focus. Since she had paid for this course in advance, she might as well enter into the spirit. But, as she doodled on her pad, then set down her pen, she couldn’t help seething, silently. This teacher’s main aim in these sessions was apparently to be as upbeat as possible. He encouraged every member of their group of would-be writers with elaborate praise, whether they deserved it or not. That was all well and good, she thought, because who didn’t need their ego boosting? But Elias didn’t seem to know the difference between good work and bad. And the writing exercises he set were often dull.

This assignment, for instance, just seemed stupid. What was the point in stories that were obviously wrong? Sure, primitive people had to make sense of the world around them, and the stories they told themselves made sense in the absence of anything better. But to Polly, such tales had no function in the modern world. For starters, wasn’t putting naivety on a pedestal a bit patronising? And pretending to write in the same way was doubly so: grown adults trying to paint like small children, with splodgy lines and no sense of perspective. What was the point?

She felt like saying something, speaking up, making some objection. But instead, she said nothing. She didn’t want to be the troublemaker, the class whinger. She had already tested the waters with a couple of her fellow students, asking cautiously after class what they thought of their teacher, but they’d all said he was great, so there was probably no mileage in moaning out loud. She might as well just do this silly exercise. She sighed, picked up her pen once more, and began to write. Actually, once she started, it wasn’t so bad. She wrote one line and then the next, and ended up becoming so absorbed in the world she was creating that she lost all track of time and jumped when Elias called out: ‘That’s it. All done? Just finish the sentence you’re writing. Don’t worry; it doesn’t matter if you haven’t got to the end. This is mainly an exercise in letting your creative juices flow. It’s about casting inhibition aside.’


‘I hugely recommend Simon Edge’s magnificent pair of novels, The End of the World is Flat and In the Beginning. Coruscating satires on currently trendy anti-science lunacy, and the spiteful viciousness of its juvenile zealots and their cowardly adult enablers’

Richard Dawkins

‘Simon Edge is the wickedest of satirists, and never funnier than when skewering transgender activism and credulity’

Amanda Craig

‘Funny, clever, and the retelling of the Maya Forstater case in the most astute and hilarious manner. I loved every line’

Julie Bindel

‘Completely absurd yet painfully accurate, In the Beginning brilliantly parodies a fiasco that already seems beyond parody’

Victoria Smith, author of Hags

‘Hilarious, horrifying and deliciously perverse – In the Beginning captures the modern world and shines a bright light at its imperfections’

Christina Dalcher, author of Vox

‘A cathartic read for anyone still reeling from the absurdities of the gender wars, or any of the other topics in which self-proclaimed progressives attempt to mandate false beliefs. Highly recommended’

Holly Lawford-Smith

‘Brilliant! Totally gripping, perfectly capturing both the absurdity and horror of this madness. I laughed out loud lots and I got quite emotional – with both anger and joy’

Gareth Roberts, author of Gay Shame

‘Simon Edge is Britain’s leading exponent of Horatian satire. Yes, he likes his characters, but also sees through them – and us, his readers – with pellucid insight’

Helen Dale

‘The world is not beyond satire. I know this thanks to Simon Edge’

Jonathan Kay, Quillette


‘A pacy satire [which] lampoons the lunacy and captures the personal devastation caused by the movement to erase biological sex. Compelling and empathic... Edge perfectly exposes the ludicrous views and hollow values held by the globe’s most educated people’

Jo Bartosch, The Critic

‘In his nifty satire, Simon Edge has created a fictional popular lunacy – saying that Earth is millions of years old is offensive – to expose exactly how such human madnesses occur. The book effectively boils it down to a combination of social conformist bubbles and powerful, bad-but-attractive, ideas’

The Spectator

‘Another richly enjoyable, rapier-sharp lampoon of cancel culture, witch hunts and the madness of crowds from the author of The End of the World is Flat

Saga Magazine

‘Stories that communicate the current insanity to the future will be essential. Edge has novelised the historical moment of “Terf Island” brilliantly’

The Distance



Simon Edge

Simon Edge was born in Chester and read philosophy at Cambridge University.

He was editor of the pioneering London paper Capital Gay before becoming a gossip columnist on the Evening Standard and then a feature writer and critic on the Daily Express. He has an MA in Creative Writing from City University, London, where he also taught literary criticism.

He is the author of five novels, all published by Lightning Books: The Hopkins Conundrum, longlisted for the Waverton Good Read Award, The Hurtle of Hell, A Right Royal Face-Off, Anyone for Edmund? and The End of the World is Flat.

He lives in Suffolk.