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Review: The Stark Divide – J. Scott Coatsworth

The Stark Divide - J. Scott Coatsworth

Genre: Sci-Fi, Generation Ship

LGBTQ+ Category: Gay, Trans FTM

Reviewer: Ulysses, Paranormal Romance Guild

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About The Book

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.

The Review

I was drawn to this book initially because of the character of Colin McAvery. The presence of a gay character, with a partner, in a sci-fi series. What I didn’t expect was that, while McAvery is central to the story, whose epic sweep covers thirty years in the life of the Ariadne project, he is just himself. My reading trends these past dozen years have taken me to books that feature gay characters, gay plotlines, gay context. That’s not really what Coatsworth does. He establishes Colin McAvery as one of the critical characters over the long arc of the plot, and never makes it about his being gay, or his relationship. Coatsworth does what sci-fi writers generally have not done previously: he makes McAvery’s being gay no big deal. It is a fact, ever-present; a fact of which we are reminded when necessary by the appearance of Colin’s boyfriend/partner/husband Trip.

This set me back at first, because that has been my reason for reading much of what I read for a long time now. Then I got caught up in Coatsworth’s startling vision; his scientific fantasy of a new colony formed by human genius on a failing Earth; a colony that could germinate and grow in the barren rock of an asteroid named Ariadne. The simultaneous brilliance and stupidity of humankind is the hub of this story, the squandered potential that gets put to use in creating a second chance for the human race.

The main cast of characters is not big, and only two of them appear in all of the three major segments of the book—McAvery, and Lex, the “World Mind” of the Ariadne project. Coatsworth has taken the contemporary interest in sentient AI and pushed it to its logical (fantastical?) conclusion. The author’s cinematic writing brings the world of Ariadne to life, and makes each of his characters as familiar as a member of our own family.

For a story that the author feels is hopeful, the carefully crafted cliffhanger of an ending felt terribly bleak to me. And yet, it is the beginning of a great adventure, and (of course) the first of a nine-part series of books. How much fun will it be to see this saga of human survival unfold at the hands of its gifted creator?

Five stars.

The Reviewer

Ulysses Grant Dietz grew up in Syracuse, New York, where his Leave It to Beaver life was enlivened by his fascination with vampires, from Bela Lugosi to Barnabas Collins. He studied French at Yale, and was trained to be a museum curator at the University of Delaware. A curator since 1980, Ulysses has never stopped writing fiction for the sheer pleasure of it. He created the character of Desmond Beckwith in 1988 as his personal response to Anne Rice’s landmark novels. Alyson Books released his first novel, Desmond, in 1998. Vampire in Suburbia, the sequel to Desmond, is his second novel.

Ulysses lives in suburban New Jersey with his husband of over 41 years and their two almost-grown children.

By the way, the name Ulysses was not his parents’ idea of a joke: he is a great-great grandson of Ulysses S. Grant, and his mother was the President’s last living great-grandchild. Every year on April 27 he gives a speech at Grant’s Tomb in New York City.

The Paranormal Romance Guild was established in 2009 by 8 Indie Authors and one Reviewer to be a constant help for authors. You can be a free author member, submitting your work for review OR become a Premium Author Member for a small yearly fee and enjoy many extra services including Free Beta Reads, Author Giveaways and many others. Your reviews are posted on our 3 FB Sites, Amazon, Goodreads, Twitter and Instagram. WE REVIEW ALL GENRES LGBTQ+ welcome.

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