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Cooper, Brenda

Entry updated 29 October 2021. Tagged: Author.

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(1960-    ) US author who began publishing work of genre interest with "Ice and Mirrors" in Asimov's for February 2001 with Larry Niven, with whom she collaborated on several subsequent works, including the novel Building Harlequin's Moon (2005), which follows the course of the first interstellar Starship, whose crew is fleeing an Earth dominated by AIs and inimical Nanotechnology-shaped Cyborgs. They land in error on an unknown planet, which they Terraform in order to generate the Antimatter fuel required to reach their ultimate destination. The tale, up to this point conventional, then focuses on the offspring of the original crew, who will be abandoned when the ship takes off. Her second novel, Mayan December (2011), mixes Time Travel, archaeology (see Ruins and Futurity) and Politics in very Near Future Yucatan. Her first collection, Cracking the Sky (coll 2015), puts together Hard SF and Military SF tales, with some emphasis on the individual characters enjoined by these topoi.

Cooper is perhaps best known for the Young Adult Silver Ship sequence, comprising The Silver Ship and the Sea (2007), Reading the Wind (2008) and Wings of Creation (2009), once again focusing on young protagonists confronted with the abandonment of their elders and a hostile planet to tame. In this case, the six adolescents in question – each fortunately in possession of a Superpower which on joining creates a kind of potent gestalt – deal with their trials handily. Potentially more innovative, her second sequence, the Ruby's Song series beginning with The Creative Fire (2012), places its tough singer heroine on a Generation Starship whose stratified and savagely unjust social order she must master in order to survive; the series is explicitly planned to reflect the life of Eva Perón (1919-1952), whose radical career in Argentinian politics, before her early death, threatened to shake that highly conservative society to its roots. The Project Earth sequence comprising Wilders (2017) and Keepers (2018) ambitiously argues for a moderately Utopian set of solutions to a Near Future world beset by Ecological catastrophe and general Climate Change. A balkanized America, though not at the moment involved in internecine warfare, must adjust to huge necessary transformations in the landscape and in ways of living. Most of the interior is Robot-supervised quasi-wilderness, with the human populations compacted into vast Cities without rights of untrammelled egress into the recovering world outside. The sequence so far focuses on attempts to maintain this system against human recidivists and the vagaries of a planet which remains in climatic turmoil. [JC]

Brenda Cooper

born Encino, California: 12 August 1960



The Silver Ship

Ruby's Song

The Glittering Edge

Project Earth

  • Wilders (Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books/Pyr, 2017) [Project Earth: pb/Stephan Martinière]
  • Keepers (Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books/Pyr, 2018) [Project Earth: pb/Christian Hecker]

individual titles


works as editor


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