The Stark Divide

Liminal Sky Book 1

by J. Scott Coatsworth

The Stark Divide
Part of the Liminal Sky series:
  • The Stark Divide
Editions:Kindle - First: $ 6.99
ISBN: 978-1-63533-833-1
Pages: 284
Paperback - First: $ 16.99
ISBN: 978-1-63533-833-1
Pages: 284

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.

This book is not a romance per se, but does have queer relationships.

Excerpt:

“DRESSLER, SCHEMATIC,” Colin McAvery, ship’s captain and a third of the crew, called out to the ship-mind.

A three-dimensional image of the ship appeared above the smooth console. Her five living arms, reaching out from her central core, were lit with a golden glow, and the mechanical bits of instrumentation shone in red. In real life, she was almost two hundred meters from tip to tip.

Between those arms stretched her solar wings, a ghostly green film like the sails of the Flying Dutchman.

“You’re a pretty thing,” he said softly. He loved these ships, their delicate beauty as they floated through the starry void.

“Thank you, Captain.” The ship-mind sounded happy with the compliment—his imagination running wild. Minds didn’t have real emotions, though they sometimes approximated them.

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He cross-checked the heading to be sure they remained on course to deliver their payload, the man-sized seed that was being dragged on a tether behind the ship. Humanity’s ticket to the stars at a time when life on Earth was getting rapidly worse.

All of space was spread out before him, seen through the clear expanse of plasform set into the ship’s living walls. His own face, trimmed blond hair, and deep brown eyes, stared back at him, superimposed over the vivid starscape.

At thirty, Colin was in the prime of his career. He was a starship captain, and yet sometimes he felt like little more than a bus driver. After this run… well, he’d have to see what other opportunities might be awaiting him. Maybe the doc was right, and this was the start of a whole new chapter for mankind. They might need a guy like him.

The walls of the bridge emitted a faint but healthy golden glow, providing light for his work at the curved mechanical console that filled half the room. He traced out the T-Line to their destination. “Dressler, we’re looking a little wobbly.” Colin frowned. Some irregularity in the course was common—the ship was constantly adjusting its trajectory—but she usually corrected it before he noticed.

“Affirmative, Captain.” The ship-mind’s miniature chosen likeness appeared above the touch board. She was all professional today, dressed in a standard AmSplor uniform, dark hair pulled back in a bun, and about a third life-sized.

The image was nothing more than a projection of the ship-mind, a fairy tale, but Colin appreciated the effort she took to humanize her appearance. Artificial mind or not, he always treated minds with respect.

“There’s a blockage in arm four. I’ve sent out a scout to correct it.”

The Dressler was well into slowdown now, her pre-arrival phase as she bled off her speed, and they expected to reach 43 Ariadne in another fifteen hours.

Pity no one had yet cracked the whole hyperspace thing. Colin chuckled. Asimov would be disappointed. “Dressler, show me Earth, please.”

A small blue dot appeared in the middle of his screen.

“Dressler, three dimensions, a bit larger, please.” The beautiful blue-green world spun before him in all its glory.

Appearances could be deceiving. Even with scrubbers working tirelessly night and day to clean the excess carbon dioxide from the air, the home world was still running dangerously warm.

He watched the image in front of him as the East Coast of the North American Union spun slowly into view. Florida was a sliver of its former self, and where New York City’s lights had once shone, there was now only blue. If it had been night, Fargo, the capital of the Northern States, would have outshone most of the other cities below. The floods that had wiped out many of the world’s coastal cities had also knocked down Earth’s population, which was only now reaching the levels it had seen in the early twenty-first century.

All those new souls had been born into a warm, arid world.

We did it to ourselves. Colin, who had known nothing besides the hot planet he called home, wondered what it had been like those many years before the Heat.

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Jayne Lockwood on WROTE Podcast wrote:

This is a great science-fiction novel, and a cracking start to a gripping series. There is also a helpful glossary at the back. I’ve said this before with books. I just wish I had known the glossary was there before reading the whole book first! This would have been helpful to either, a) have it at the front or, b) mention it at the front so I know it’s there. It isn’t as easy to flip back and forth with an e-reader, but anyway, I was grateful for the added information. Not that there are a lot of unfamiliar words, but it does help to enrich and understand the world the author has created.

Finally, there are elements of everything here. An adventure, a rescue, the creation of a new world, machines with organic elements and Artificial Intelligence. The Lex character may or may not have the humans’ best interests at heart. That’s all I’m saying. In a word, this is a great novel, with awesome world-building and a plot that satisfies the sci-fi buff in all of us.

Melanie on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words wrote:

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!

Chris Sweeso on Wicked Faeries Tales and Reviews wrote:

The world building is absolutely amazing; we get to see a new world emerging through determination and survival instincts, we get to picture through the authors words exactly what a new world for humans might be like, living inside that world… it’s just amazing.

I grew up reading classic sci-fi and fantasy before I even discovered romance. So how I judge most books is along the lines of what my favorite elements are in a sci-fi or fantasy story. This story combined all those elements of my favorites like Pamela Sargent’s Earthseed, and especially Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Scarborough’s Ship Who Sang series.

on MM Good Book Reviews:

The world building is absolutely amazing; we get to see a new world emerging through determination and survival instincts, we get to picture through the authors words exactly what a new world for humans might be like, living inside that world… it’s just amazing.

The characters each come to life, their hopes, dreams, fear, anger, desperation and shame comes through brilliantly, we are left in no doubt as to what the characters are going through.

Lilyn on Sci Fi and Scary wrote:

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.

Molly on Molly Lolly wrote:

I’m super hoping not only is there a sequel but that it comes out quickly. I want to lose myself in the world more and see how all of the characters handle the current challenges they face and the new ones that are about to arise from the events towards the end of the book.


About the Author

Scott lives in the space between the here and now and the what could be. Indoctrinated into science fiction and fantasy by his mom at the tender age of nine, he quickly finished her entire library. But he soon began to wonder where all the queer people were.

After coming out at twenty three, he started writing the kinds of stories he couldn't find at Crown Books. If there weren't many queer characters in his favorite genres, he would will them into existence, subverting them to his own ends. And if he was lucky enough, someone else would want to read them.

His friends say Scott's mind works a little differently than most - he makes connections between ideas that others don't, and somehow does more in a day than most people manage in a week. Although born an introvert, he forced himself to reach outside himself, and learned to connect with others like him.

Scott's stories subvert expectations that transform traditional science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something different and unexpected. He runs both Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark.

His romance and genre fiction writing brings a queer energy to his stories, filling them with love, beauty and power. He imagines how the world could be - in the process, he hopes to change the world, just a little.

He lives with his husband of twenty five years in a Sacramento suburb, in a cute little yellow house with a brick fireplace and two pink flamingoes out front.

You can find me at Dreamspinner here, Goodreads here, on Amazon here, on QueeRomance Ink here, and on Facebook here.