From the start, my feelings from Brenda Cooper’s first book in this series, ‘The Creative Fire’, continue with this one, ‘The Diamond Deep’. I went back checked to see what I said back then and found I was giving similar reaction which is not a good sign. None of which is helped by no recap of the previous book as to what went on or indeed in the opening chapters. Readers do not endlessly re-read books, even before they start the next volume. Even the back cover does little to inform me other than Ruby Martin and crew are travelling on a generation ship returning home. It says Ruby has a partner in Joel North, but the way she jumps from bed to bed with others of her crew and giving them a massage to boot, although this stops with no actual reason given. A lot of muscle tension going on.
None of which is helped by a lack of emotional content. A couple of the crew are killed and nary an emotional reaction from any of them, especially as they are supposed to care for each other. When you consider so much of the story is told in dialogue which makes the pace of the story far too fast to take things in. Cooper points out that she based Ruby loosely off the life on Eva Peron but I’m still no wiser.
The generation ship, ‘The Creative Fire’, finally arrives home, only to be greeted by restrictions imposed. Their ship’s artificial intelligence, Ix, has most of itself disconnected and there is a serious decontamination process to ensure cross-contamination isn’t carried out. At last, I thought, this is going to get interesting. Unfortunately, Cooper’s dialogue heavy story, which is also one-sided, means we don’t really see the human inhabitant side of things as to why they are doing things by other than implication. Keeping to Ruby throughout would work in first person but in third person becomes totally one-sided affair because so many of the characters are ciphers.
I’m beginning to see some similarities to ‘Evita’ but I don’t think it was necessary to say so because if makes the reader make too many assumptions where the plot is going, especially as it all leads to revolution.
In many respects, I think Cooper feels she has to stay within the format she started with the first book but even more seasoned authors have been known to grow over a series of books. You want to like the characters but the lack of depth doesn’t help and being told about events which should have been up close is a serious mistake and I’m still not sure who won at the end of the trial.
(pub: Pyr/Prometheus Books. 448 page small enlarged paperback. Price: $18.00 (US), $19.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-61614-855-3)