The Stark Divide by J. Scott Coatsworth #BookReview

Title: The Stark Divide | Series: Liminal Sky #1 | Author: J. Scott Coatsworth | Publisher: DSP Publications | Pub. Date: 2017-10-10 | Pages: 284 | ISBN13: 9781635338331 | Genre: Science Fiction, LGBTQ+ | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from the author for review consideration.

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The Stark Divide

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.

Book One of Liminal Sky

Book cover for The Stark Divide

The Stark Divide Review

The Stark Divide was a nice quick read. It was definitely a book that I didn’t want to put down unless I absolutely had to. It plays with some familiar ideas, but does so in such a way that it doesn’t feel ‘been there, done that’. In it, we’ve basically destroyed Earth, but we don’t have FTL travel yet, so we can’t quickly get to another planet. Naturally, that means we have to turn to colony spaceships in the meantime. And that leads me into what I liked most about the book. From the initial ship that the story starts on, Coatsworth catches your imagination and opens your minds to the possibilities of meat and metal spaceships. From there, we move on to an O’Neill cylinder, but the author’s way of developing one is definitely one you rarely read about. 

Really, the only thing I didn’t care for about The Stark Divide was the decades long time skips. I didn’t mind the first two, but the third one just seemed to rush things a bit. It felt like it was leaping to keep the drama high, and while I normally like full speed ahead, I just wished for a little more regular stuff here. Well, that, and although the characters were interesting, I wish we had gotten to know them a little bit more. Basically, it seems liked we just skimmed the surface for all the ‘good’ parts, and it felt like something was missing as a result.

Speaking of characters, I loved that three of the characters both carried a favorite book amongst their meagre possessions in The Stark Divide. At a time where every ounce counts, a book has to be extremely well loved. In one case, it was a journal. But the others were well-recognized sci-fi classics. It made me reflect on what book I would carry with me when everything was going to pieces. (Answer: My Kindle, because I couldn’t just choose one book.)

While I have read a few science fiction books that had LGBTQ+ characters in them, it was generally only one or two at max. The Stark Divide is inclusive science fiction written by an author who was tired of not finding characters he could relate to in stories. Anyone who is seeking good science fiction within those parameters needs to take a look at The Stark Divide. This is a solid story with a diverse cast of characters where their sexuality and/or gender is present, acknowledged, but really not a big deal. There are same sex marriages, casual relationships, FtM characters, and more.

Earth was believably depressing, the spaceships were awesome, the relationship between the AI minds and some of the humans were great, and there was a solid amount of diversity present in The Stark Divide. This was a very entertaining book and I believe it’s the start to a series with a lot of potential. Here’s hoping J. Scott Coatsworth writes the epic saga this story begs to be the beginning of.

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