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The Stark Divide (Liminal Sky Book 1) Kindle Edition
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There is so much in here that hits all my personal hot spots: World-building that slowly unfolds without a ton of expository text; flawed but likable characters; both subtle and overt references to favorite speculative fiction; action that’s low on both sex and violence; social themes; and a what-will-happen-next plot.
This is not a romance by any stretch, but the relationships among the various people are important. I loved the friendship aspects and the way people in this world are allowed to simply be who they are without question, despite the horrific and tragic circumstances of the story. In fact, those parts seem so mundane as to be of little importance to the plot. It’s refreshing to see LGBT+ people simply existing rather than being the driving force of the novel.
I absolutely love the world the author has created. The ship-mind, and later the station-mind and the world-mind, are fascinating. I can’t wait to see how that’s explored more fully in future books. I’m particularly interested in the world-mind and some aspects of it that have (for me, at least) metaphoric significance. Saying more would be spoilers, but it is so completely fascinating to me, and I want to know more.
There’s a lot of diversity here, in particular with regard to LGBT+ identities. I’ll admit to being a bit disappointed not to have spotted anyone obviously bisexual or any trans women or non-binary people (though gay, lesbian, and a trans man are all covered nicely). However, there is at least one character that I chose to read as bi, and I’m hoping that when they return, that will be confirmed. And if not, perhaps that’s what good speculative fiction is for: my perceptions may be correct even if it’s never spoken. In any case, I loved that there were so many different people.
Another theme which grabbed me was the way aspects of faith and spirituality are woven into the narrative. It’s not a bash-you-on-the-head kind of religion. Like gender and orientation, it’s simply part of who some characters are. But there are also some more subtle and deeper connections (for example, one aspect of the world-mind). While only one religion is specifically named in the book, there are things which may be relatable to people of faith regardless of spiritual identity.
The novel is told in three parts, and the first two are resolved fairly easily. The third one left me feeling simultaneously anguished, hopeful, and on the edge of my seat. It does leave off with what I consider a cliffhanger, so I’m hoping we’ll see part two sooner rather than later.
For a diverse cast, a highly absorbing story, and an ending that left me wanting more, this gets 5 stars.
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Some stories are epic.
The Earth is in a state of collapse, with wars breaking out over resources and an environment pushed to the edge by human greed.
Three living generation ships have been built with a combination of genetic mastery, artificial intelligence, technology, and raw materials harvested from the asteroid belt. This is the story of one of them—43 Ariadne, or Forever, as her inhabitants call her—a living world that carries the remaining hopes of humanity, and the three generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers working to colonize her.
From her humble beginnings as a seedling saved from disaster to the start of her journey across the void of space toward a new home for the human race, The Stark Divide tells the tales of the world, the people who made her, and the few who will become something altogether beyond human.
Humankind has just taken its first step toward the stars.
Every now and again, a story comes along that you wish you could give more than the allotted 5 stars. The Stark Divide by J. Scott Coatsworth is one of those novels. A science fiction saga, the first in a series, it's giant narrative footprint calls to mind some of my favorite science fiction authors, from Arthur C. Clarke in it's clear, forward use of science and up to the creator of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry, in it's all inclusive outlook on humanity, the sweeping scope and incredible imaginative flair of the author makes this story one of the true highlights of my reading year.
Even more amazing after reading the foreword and discovering how close The Stark Divide came to never even being published at all. What a journey for both author and novel. That's also an author's note not to be missed.
The Stark Divide is separated into three sections starting with Seed, each transitioning with huge steps in human generation (a family), huge growth (an alive IA earth world/ship), and a vision for the human race. The Earth is an ecological disaster, the humans left barely surviving on the populated livable land masses after the event known as The Burn which killed millions, leaving the rest scrabbling for their existence. The hope for the human race lies among the stars and the three living world/ generation ships planned for space, of which the 43 Ariadne, or Forever is one.
Coatsworth takes us through the incredible birth of Forever in Seed, the introduction of the people so important to the beginnings of this saga and the foundation of the story. Everyone and everything in The Stark Divide grabs at your heart, and your mind, engaging both your curiosity, your imagination, and yes, pulling at our own fears at the potential for ecological disaster going on now. Beautifully thought out as well as soaring on the author's on creativity and extrapolation, don't be surprised to feel yourself wanting to be a part of this Utopia and then beginning to fear for it when all the ugliness that killed the Earth finds it's way to Forever.
As I said, this is only the first story in a series. I can scarcely wait for the next one to be released. I need to know where the saga goes next. You will too once this saga has you hooked as thoroughly as it does me. If you love science fiction, grab up a copy now and prepare to sink yourself into a world unlike any other. It's incredible, thought provoking, highly imaginative, and easily one of the best books of 2017!
Book One of Liminal Sky
Cover art by Aaron Anderson is perfect, a wonderful artistic rendering of parts of Forever.