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The Diamond Deep (Ruby's Song) by…
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The Diamond Deep (Ruby's Song)

by Brenda Cooper

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The Diamond Deep was a very pleasant surprise, one of those books that I have a feeling should deserve a lot more attention than it gets. Nevertheless, I'll admit I knew very little about the book when it first came into my possession, and for that reason, I almost relegated it to the "save-for-later" pile. Boy, am I so very glad I didn't.

It was reading the first page containing the Author's Note that first transformed my mild curiosity into awed interest. There, Brenda Cooper writes that Evita, the musical about Eva Perón, was the main inspiration for the book's story. Something about this struck me, made me want to know more and read the book right away. Cooper further writes, though, that The Diamond Deep is simply the story Evita's legend teased out of her. And knowing what I do about Eva Perón, I could definitely see how her life and legacy inspired this novel, but the story is also a very fascinating piece of social-science-fiction, a class-oriented space opera with elements of action and suspense.

The book's main protagonist, Ruby Martin, is a very strong and complex character, much like the historical figure she was based on. She and the inhabitants of their discovery ship are heading home from a multi-generational journey, and from the sound of it, things haven't been easy. I have not read the first book of the Ruby's Song series, The Creative Fire, but it is clear that there'd been a rigidly divided social structure on the ship, before a movement spearheaded by Ruby and others brought a change.

Just as Evita had been an actress before becoming First Lady of Argentina and a political leader in her own right, Ruby started off as a robot repair assistant and a singer before becoming partners with the ship's leader Joel North. And just like Evita during her short life, Ruby's character is controversial, as adored as she is hated by her crew. When they finally reach their destination, her leadership is further tested when it turns out their new home is nothing like any of them expected.

After being away for so long, they are immediately dismissed as primitive and naive, given no status, voice or power. Having just rid their own society of inequality, they arrive at The Diamond Deep space station only to be treated like beggars and slaves, the lowest of the low. They are used and manipulated by parties who deliberately and shamelessly keep them in the dark, knowing that there's nothing they can do about it. As with most fiction concerning sociological speculation, this book is a reflection of some of the current issues in our own contemporary societies, and it can be quite upsetting and infuriating to read about Ruby and her crew's situation.

Ruby herself is an interesting protagonist. She has a very dominant and energetic personality, but her love for her people is boundless. She can also be a tad vain and wrapped up in her own self-importance, but perhaps that's the point the author is trying to make about Ruby and her leadership -- that even strong characters are flawed and fallible, and that they can make mistakes and cause pain unwittingly even when they have good intentions or think they are doing the best for others. Ruby cares too much, perhaps, unwilling to accept that she can't be everywhere at once and do everything for everyone at the same time.

I think my appreciation for her character also increased after I finished this book and began researching more into the life of Eva Perón, which opened my eyes to more parallels made by the author. Moreover, though, I liked this book for its themes, which explore matters such as power, poverty, and the responsibilities of a society to its members. It is a very compelling story of revolution, and one woman's journey to fight for her people's voices to be heard. ( )
  stefferoo | Oct 8, 2013 |
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What if a woman as strong and as complex as Eva Peron began her life as a robot repair assistant threatened by a powerful peacekeeping force that wants to take all she has from her? The discovery ship, Creative Fire, is on its way home from a multi-generational journey. But home is nothing like the crew expected. They have been gone for generations, and the system they return to is home to technologies and riches beyond their wildest dreams. But they are immediately oppressed and relegated to the lowest status imaginable, barely able to interact with the technologies and people of the star station where they dock, the Diamond Deep. Ruby Martin and her partner, Joel North, must find a way to learn what they need to know and to become more than they have ever been if they are to find a way to save their people.… (more)

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