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Creative Fire by Brenda Cooper

Creative Fire

a review by Rebecca Muir

Publisher: Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books
Release date: November 2012

The Creative Fire is the first instalment of Brenda Cooper’s proposed two-part series, Ruby’s Song.

The book is set aboard the generation space ship, The Creative Fire. The ship set out from the home star system, Adiamo, about four hundred years ago. In the centuries in space, a culture has developed aboard the ship where the workers, called Greys for the colour of their uniform, are oppressed and kept segregated in the outer levels of the ship. One young Grey, a fiery robot maintenance apprentice called Ruby, wants things to change. What starts as a desire to end the brutality of the Reds, the ship’s “peacekeepers”, towards the Greys, becomes a much bigger ambition on the day the sky rips apart.

The failing ship suffers structural damage, causing a tear between levels. Ruby rescues a handsome man, a Blue – a class on the ship which she is barely aware of. That encounter opens her eyes to a whole new world on the ship, and unveils a truth which has been kept from the Greys – the ship is almost home.

As Ruby pushes for freedom and equality for the Greys, she finds herself caught up in a much bigger movement for change that spans the ship from the highest levels to the lowest. There are many people who suddenly take an interest in Ruby – some of them annoyed at her passion which is forcing events to move forward faster than they would like, others wanting to use her and her talent. Ruby has a beautiful voice, and her singing quickly captures the imaginations of people across the ship. Ruby finds she must fight, not only for the freedom of the Greys, but for her own freedom as well.

The Creative Fire is an engaging book – I found it hard to put down. It is full of action and populated with well-drawn characters. For the most part, Brenda Cooper does a good job of conveying the emotions of the characters, and bringing the world of the space ship to life.

This book could be described as a coming-of-age book – Ruby and her friends, on the brink of adulthood, must find their way in an adult world which is much bigger than they imagined. They come to realise that in their youthful passion and idealism they have assumed that they are the only ones who care, and that they have underestimated the adults around them. This is a lesson which many young people need to learn – I know I did. However, the book is more than just a coming-of-age tale. It explores the concept of power, and the different forms that can take. It explores love and friendship, and it looks at what might be even more important than individual relationships.

This isn’t a flawless book (what book is?) but it is a well-written, engaging story with a lot of depth to it, and it is a very enjoyable read. I’m looking forward to the continuation of the story.

Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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