December 12, 2017

Review: The Diamond Deep by Brenda Cooper

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Beware: there’s always a bigger multi-generational starship than yours out there in the universe. This month, Ruby is back in The Diamond Deep by Brenda Cooper out from Pyr Books, the second book in the interstellar saga known as Ruby’s Song. Fans of this space will remember our review of book one from last year, entitled The Creative Fire.

And just like in The Creative Fire, the title comes from the name of a multi-generational starship. But unlike The Creative Fire, revolution hasn’t yet come to The Diamond Deep, a station that dwarfs Ruby’s own. The idea behind the concept of the Ruby’s Song saga is a novel one. The author based it loosely on the real life story of Argentinean singer and cultural icon Eva Perón. The complex character of Perón has been the subject of many studies and interpretations, and Ruby’s Song may well be the first and only science fiction adaptation to date.

Like Eva, Ruby is a singer, a girl who went from poverty to power in a culturally stratified society. The Creative Fire saw Ruby play a pivotal role in a cultural revolution, rising from the lower caste as a robot repair assistant to a potent political force. And as with Eva Perón, it’s the songs she sings that have the capability to move the hearts of people.

Book Two picks up where the first novel left off —the revolution aboard The Creative Fire has ended, and Ruby is guiding them back to their home towards the legendary planet of Adiamo, a world their ancestors left centuries ago and none of them have ever seen.

But they find themselves less than welcome upon return. Ruby and Joel North find that their very way of life and their new found and fought for freedoms are threatened to be entirely absorbed and forgotten by the massive worldlet that is The Diamond Deep. Not only has their culture diverged more than they would have ever imagined, but Ruby’s crew soon finds themselves back at the bottom of the cultural pecking order, losing their hard-won freedoms in an indifferent and strange new society.

Ruby’s Song packs an emotional wallop, woven into a great future world tale. The saga also tackles the time-honored questions posed by the science fiction trope of multigenerational starships; would successive generations hold the same values as earlier ones? What would the views and ideals be of someone who has spent their entire life on a starship? And what would a human Diaspora look like?

The Diamond Deep is an intense and deeply human saga juxtaposed in a futuristic caste that is both horrific and all to familiar.  Like Katniss Everdeen of the Hunger Games fame, Ruby is a strong-willed but reluctant heroine. I won’t spoil the ending, but it’ll suffice to say that it’s a sure-fire shocker for fans of the series. And even in the distant futuristic world of a multigenerational starship, the strength of the human spirit will prevail!

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