I have had lovely covers. Prior to The Creative Fire, my best cover story was when publisher Sean Wallace told me he wanted to buy Mayan December by sending me the cover art (by Scott Grimando) and asking if I thought it would go with the book. In every other case, I gave input about cover ideas on a basic form, but actually learned what the covers looked like by spotting them on Amazon. My experience with John Picacio’s stunning cover for The Creative Fire has been very different. My belief is that the support we have each provided the other in talking about the book and the art benefited us both greatly.
I knew John, but not well. We had been introduced at conventions, had talked at parties, and would have recognized each other walking down the street, but we had never had a private conversation that lasted more than two minutes. I admired his work. I own his art book, Cover Story: The art of John Picacio. A signed print of his Asimov’s cover, Away from Here hangs on my office wall among other pieces of science fiction art.
REVIEW SUMMARY: Cooper marries the classic SF trope of a Generation Starship to an intensely character-driven drama with a fascinating main character.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Ruby Martin, bot technician trainee on a class-riven generation starship, struggles for freedom and the rights of her underclass peers.
PROS: Captivating main character; strong character-focused story with strong themes; stunning cover art.
CONS: A couple of Ruby’s relationships feel a bit false.
BOTTOM LINE: The Creative Fire is a powerful opening half to a planned diptych of novels.
Ruby Martin lives on The Creative Fire, a generation starship, making its way between the stars. As one of the underclass, called ‘greys’ by the classes above her, she feels she is destined to live out her life as a robot technician quietly toiling away, unappreciated and unnoticed, in the bowels of the ship. An accident exposes Ruby to the world above. At the same time, the shakeup caused by the accident provides Ruby with the opportunity to try and reach that greater world. Little does Ruby realize that her gifts are stronger than she suspects, and her charisma, voice, thirst for knowledge, and potential leadership skills are perhaps more powerful than any weapon on board the ship, if she is only allowed the chance to use them.
Brenda Cooper is a science fiction and fantasy writer living in the Pacific Northwest. Her next novel is The Creative Fire from Pyr Books, a story that explores revolution on a generation ship through the eyes of a young woman who helps bring her people to freedom through the power of her voice. Find out more about The Creative Fire and Brenda’s other works at www.Brenda-cooper.com.
Science Fiction and the Futurist
While science fiction is not always either an accurate predictor or creator of the future, some books lend themselves particularly well to exploration of possible futures. As someone who is both a futurist and a science fiction writer, I often delight in the careful and well-researched futures that show up as setting and story in modern SF. I’m going to explore three books that do this well. One is freshly out from a major publisher, anther is a bit older, and a third is a self-published collection of stories that appeared in Analog.