Sunday, 31 December 2017

The Stark Divide (Liminal Sky #1) by J. Scott Coatsworth


284 pages
Publisher: DSP Publications
Buy links: DSP | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Blurb

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.

Review

Some stories are epic indeed. And some stories just keep on getting better and more intriguing with each subsequent chapter and the introduction of every new character. The Stark Divide is such a book.

I’m not entirely sure how useful my review is going to be for dedicated readers of science fiction. I don’t read enough of it to be able to compare and am too flimsy on everything science to give a trustworthy opinion about that aspect for the story. But I can confidently say that as far as the fiction is concerned, this book is phenomenal (or, as the blurb states: epic).

What I loved most about The Stark Divide is that from the start right until the very end the story and the characters in it kept surprising me. Nothing is exactly how it seems and every time I thought I had things figured out a new development or character would throw me for a loop and force me to rethink the assumptions I had made.

The story is told in three parts, showing us how Forever, the new ‘worldlet’ came to be, through its early development to a very unexpected and possibly fatal danger. I found it impossible not to fall and care deeply for the various characters in this story, both human and other. The ungoing growth and development of Forever was fascinating, just as the way in which our Earth was rushing towards its own demise was horrifying — not in the least because that part of the story sounded all too plausible.

This is the sort of tale that will stay with me for days, if not weeks or months, after I’ve finished it because despite it being fiction, it touches on so many issues and potential disasters our world faces at the moment that it is impossible not to draw parallels. While we may not yet have reached the stage where we can create new worlds out of basically ‘nothing’, there is very little else in this book that felt impossible or farfetched to me. In fact, even the sentient new world (boy did I love Lex) made perfect sense to me, despite the fact that the science of it went way over my head.

As for recommending the book. I’ve got a feeling fans of Science fiction will love The Stark Divide; a theory which I’m determined to test on my husband in the not too distant future. But, if like me, you only dip your toe into this genre very occasionally, I have to say that this is a fabulous, fascinating and addictive story, even for those who are, like me, scientifically challenged. While the book doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, exactly, I have to say that I’m already eagerly anticipating the sequel. I’ve got a feeling that Forever’s story, like its world, is only going to grow bigger and more fascinating. 

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