Author: J. Scott Coatsworth
Book: The Stark Divide
Series: Liminal Sky, Book #1
Page/Word Count: 284 pages, 87K words
Categories: Sci Fi, Space, Gen Ship, Apocalypse, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer
Release Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: DSP Publications
Cover: Aaron Anderson
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.
Aaron pressed his face against the plasform porthole, still cold from the touch of the void. There was little to see at first—mostly darkness outside, with little pinpricks all around like flickers of candlelight.
The change started slowly, the barest glow at the edge of his perception. Then a flare lit up the sky like the strike of a match, and the air around them was burning. An arc of ruddy fire flowed down the central axis of the sky in the distance, like powder set aflame to burn with a steady golden glow. As the vast chamber came alight, the ground below was revealed, little streamers of firelight flowing along the ground following the light racing through the sky.
It was a magical sight, one he would remember for the rest of his days.
As the shuttle dropped slowly toward the ground below them, the earth itself seemed to come alight, and he could make out hundreds upon hundreds of trees and an internal lake whose waves lapped at a black sand beach. Like a paradise.
“What was that?” he asked no one in particular.
Ana smiled. “Morning in Forever.”
“We call it First Light.” The director was grinning at him.
The treetops rushed up toward the small craft as they bled altitude, and he could see the dark roofs of a small village appear and resolve themselves below, dim patches amidst a forest of light.
The shuttle set down with a hiss in a small clearing close to the lake, on a broad cement landing pad not far from the village.
He bounded past the others as the shuttle door opened, eager for his first look at the interior of Forever, his anger and disappointment at McAvery’s news about his father momentarily forgotten. He took a deep breath. The air was fresh, alive, clean in a way it had never been back home.
The place was magical, as if he had stepped into a child’s storybook. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, maybe, or The Wizards of Illiad. Tall, willowy trees loomed over him, their leaves shimmering in variants of orange and gold and a glimmering yellow-white, an unexpected forest so far from his home.
He could see a few of the buildings of the colony here at the edge of the landing pad. They were all built of wood, with brightly painted shutters and wood-shingle roofs.
“It’s cheaper this way.” Director McAvery followed his gaze. “Everything we can harvest here for construction means that much less to haul up from Earthside.”
He nodded. That made sense. Then he looked into the air.
The arc of the world swept around him, up and over him, although the sky-glow, most intense in the middle of the sky, cut off the view of the far side. Still, the sight was enough to make him queasy.
“Easy there.” McAvery steadied his shoulder. “Don’t look up. Just look straight ahead for a bit. It takes some getting used to, and pretty much everyone has that first reaction.”
Aaron managed a laugh. “It’s… so strange.” he took the director’s advice and stared at the ground for a moment, then at the buildings of the colony.
“It’s how you know you’re not in Kansas anymore.”
“An old joke.” McAvery patted his shoulder.
The doctor joined them, a strangely rueful expression on her face.
The director opened his arms wide. “Welcome, my friends, to McAvery Port.”
About 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.
Where to find J. Scott Coatsworth: