The Stark Divide - J. Scott Coatsworth
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.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author for review consideration.