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The Rising Tide

Liminal Sky: Ariadne Cycle Book 2

by J. Scott Coatsworth

The Earth is dead.

Five years after the Collapse, the remnants of humanity travel through the stars inside Forever: a living, ever-evolving, self-contained generation ship.

When Eddy Tremaine and Andrissa “Andy” Hammond find a hidden world-within-a-world under the mountains, the discovery triggers a chain of events that could fundamentally alter or extinguish life as they know it, culminate in the takeover of the world mind, and end free will for humankind.

Eddy, Andy, and a handful of other unlikely heroes must find the courage and ingenuity to stand against the rising tide. Otherwise they might be living through the end days of human history.

"Quality, innovative worldbuilding grounds this volume in the “Liminal Sky” series. Fans of The Expanse will find plenty to enjoy here as different groups with widely varying goals and beliefs come together in a struggle to survive the vastness of space and one another." -Library Journal

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Ana closed her eyes, visualizing the seed ship’s current trajectory. They’d rendezvous with 42 Isis in five days, their last stop in the solar system that had birthed mankind. Five years past, it had nearly been the location of its destruction.

The asteroid contained a high percentage of olivine, a mineral high in useful elements like oxygen, iron, magnesium, and silicon—a veritable feast.

Around Ana, the clean white laboratory that was her personal vee space domain was in perfect order, every surface spotless. A swipe of her virtual hand brought up an image of Forever, the long cylindrical generation ship hanging in the dark void of space between Mars and Jupiter.


The world sails had been pulled in, and Ana was in the process of nudging Forever into alignment with the asteroid, firing off excess bits of waste mate‐ rial to bring her into the proper trajectory. If all went well, Forever would end up with enough mass to finish build-out, along with a shield to help absorb space radiation on the journey to their new home.

Thank God.

Ana shook her head. That was clearly one of Jackson’s thoughts. She even picked up some of Lex’s thoughts at times. The original world mind veered off into philosophical territory to a degree that often surprised Ana—how an AI had become a philosopher poet.

The three Immortals, as they had jokingly taken to calling one another, were bleeding into each other more and more. It worried her.

This new second life was a gift beyond measure, certainly nothing she had ever expected. A chance to go with her creation across the stark divide, between the stars. But if the ultimate price was her own individuality, was it worth it?

She made a minor adjustment in the world trajectory, then shut off that part of her awareness. If she were needed, the system would let her know.

She slipped off through the conduits of the world mind to find Jackson.

The three Immortals had created a number of virtual worlds in vee space to pass the time when their skills weren’t needed. While it was possible to create AI personalities to populate each of their various worlds, these constructs took a lot of processing power, and the Immortals had quickly grown tired of that game.

The worlds they built now were usually empty except for the three of them.

She found Jackson in Frontier Station, sitting all alone in the gardens. The blue-green ball of Earth, as it once had been, stretched out below him.

“You’re bleeding into me again.” Ana took a seat on the bench next to him.

He glanced up, his face drawn, his nose red and puffy. He concentrated, and the tears and puffiness went away. “Was I? Sorry. I was just thinking of Glory.”

Even in vee space, we emulate our old human selves.

His wife, Gloria, had just passed away a few days before, after a protracted battle with cancer that the new world’s facilities weren’t set up to treat. So much had been lost in the flight from Earth.

They had agonized over whether to bring Glory into the world mind.

Jackson had requested it, but Ana and Lex, the other two Immortals, had both been against it. Their little team worked well enough together, and adding additional human minds was likely to muddy the waters. Besides, the mind only had so much capacity. It couldn’t hold everyone within its confines. It hadn’t been created for that purpose.

Ana sighed. She wasn’t blind to the human cost of that decision. “She liked it here.” She squeezed his shoulder. Jackson’s vee space was beautiful, though it broke her heart to see Earth once again as it had looked before the Collapse.

Jackson nodded. “This is where we first met.”

He must have been just as annoyed at her bleed-through thoughts. She was being insensitive again, considering all he was dealing with.

Being effectively immortal was turning out to be harder than she’d ever imagined. She put an arm around his shoulders and hugged him. “I am so sorry about Glory.”

He regarded her in surprise. “Thank you. That means a lot.”

“Ours is a lonely path. We must make sure they get where they are going. Nothing else matters.”

He nodded. “I know. But it’s hard. Good Lord, guide me.”

Although she didn’t believe in a higher power, she squeezed his arm gently. “I hope he does.”

Reviews:Pixie on MM Good Book Reviews wrote:

This is an amazing story, the world building, the character story development which keeps you gripped as you discover what’s happening, are so fully fleshed out that you get immersed in their world, you feel for the guys as they struggle to put their world to rights and battle an evil that wants to rule with an iron grip to serve his wants and whims... I recommend this to those who love deep science fiction stories, who adore a storyline that pulls you along in its wake, who love interesting characters, who love the sheer instinct to survive, and an ending that leaves you feeling fulfilled but wondering what could be next for our intrepid survivors.

About the Author

Scott lives with his husband of 25 years in a leafy Sacramento, California suburb, in a little yellow house with a brick fireplace and a couple pink flamingoes out front. He has always inhabited the space between the here and now and the what could be. Indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine, he devoured her library. But as he grew up and read the golden age classics and more modern works as well, he began to wonder where all the people like him were.

After he came out at twenty three, he decided that it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at Waldenbooks. If there weren’t many gay characters in his favorite genres, he would reimagine them himself, populating them with a diverse universe of characters. He would subvert them and remake them to his own ends. And if he was lucky enough, someone else would want to read the things he wrote.

His friends say Scott’s brain 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. Although he was born an introvert, he learned to reach outside himself and connect with others like him.

Scott writes stories that subvert expectations, that seek to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something new and unexpected. He also runs both Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring people like them together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own reality.

His writing, whether romance or genre fiction (or a little bit of both) brings a queer energy to his stories, infusing them with love, beauty and power and making them soar. He imagines a world that could be, and in the process, maybe changes the world that is, just a little.

He was recognized as one of the top new gay authors in the 2017 Rainbow Awards, and his debut novel “Skythane” received two awards and an honorable mention.

He runs Queer Sci Fi, QueeRomance Ink, and Other Worlds Ink with Mark, and is a full member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

You can find him at Goodreads here, on Amazon here, on QueeRomance Ink here, and on Facebook here.