Review: The Stark Divide by J. Scott Coatsworth

13 January of 2018 by

Reviewer's Rating: 5
5.0Overall score

Fantastic world-building, dynamic and enthralling story.

The Stark Divide by J. Scott Coatsworth width=

The Stark Divide By J. Scott Coatsworth


Genre: Science Fiction, GLBTQ

Released: October 10, 2017

Publisher: DSP Publications

Series: Liminal Sky, Book 1

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson


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

87,239 words / 284 pages


Reviewed by ButtonsMom2003

Fantastic world-building, dynamic and enthralling story.

The Stark Divide is the type of book I never thought I’d read. I usually only read books with some type of romantic component. The romance doesn’t have to be the center of the story but there must be a romance. Well, back in November 2017 J. Scott Coatsworth asked me if I’d review The Stark Divide for Xtreme Delusions. At the time I was just too busy to accept but he asked if I could do it in January and I said yes.

I was really nervous to start reading the book because it’s just not my usual kind of story. I’m a huge Star Trek fan, beginning with The Original Series which came out when I was around 12, but I’ve never read science fiction books and never really cared to. It’s hard to say why I even said “yes” to Scott when asked to read The Stark Divide. I guess part of the reason is that I was a bit flattered that he wanted me to read it and was willing to wait until I had time in my schedule.

I am SO glad that I said yes and convinced myself to start reading this book. I didn’t have to read very far into the story to get hooked. The Stark Divide is broken into three parts with ten years between part one and two, and then 20 years between part two and three.

Because I’ve never read this type of book before I’m not really sure how to review it. I’m one of those readers who has a hard time describing exactly what it is about a book that catches, and keeps, my attention. The Stark Divide was fascinating to me. Parts of it definitely remind me of Star Trek episodes, and the idea of creating a new world out of an existing “dead” planet is similar to one of the movies, but the complexity of the writing and the “world” that Scott has created are truly something.

The Stark Divide contains a rich cast of diverse characters, both queer and straight, with creative names for the flora and fauna contained on the new world. Scott has thoughtfully provided a glossary of terms and names of people in the story but I actually had very little trouble keeping track of things and didn’t refer to it much.

I’m going to conclude by saying that the blurb describes the story accurately and much better than I ever could. I was kept on the figurative edge of my seat much of the time while reading this and had to force myself to put it down at 5 a.m. at one point so that I could be at least partially functional when meeting with friends later that day. At 87, 239 words it’s longer than the books I normally read. It also took me a bit longer than normal to read it but I don’t mean that in a bad way at all. I had to take more care when reading because I don’t usually read science fiction, but, believe me, it was time well spent.

The Stark Divide doesn’t have a cliffhanger but the scene is set for more to come and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in this series.


O Factor: PG


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Forever/Ariadne world map


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.

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.


About Author

J. Scott Coatsworth

Scott spends his time between the here and now and the what could be. Enticed into fantasy and sci fi by his mom at the tender age of nine, he devoured her Science Fiction Book Club library. But as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were in the books he was reading.

He decided that it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at his local bookstore. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

His friends say Scott’s mind works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He loves to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

Starting in 2014, Scott has published more than 15 works, including two novels and a number of novellas and short stories.

He runs both Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own lives.

Author Links

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