RogerBW's Blog

Diving Into the Wreck, Kristine Kathryn Rusch 22 February 2018

2009 science fiction, first of a series. "Boss" finds derelict spacecraft, investigates, and either salvages them or takes tourists round them. But now she's found the claim of a lifetime…

I almost loved this book. The technical business of "diving", going into ancient spacecraft in environment suits with wary eyes to all the potential hazards, is lovely; but Rusch is more interested in the plot about attempts to reinvent a particular piece of lost technology, and why that might be a terrible idea.

The story is in three very distinct sections with long gaps between them in narrative time, assembled from two previously-published novellas with new material to continue the arc. That probably explains why we don't get a "normal" dive to show how it works before we get into the lost-technology plot; I felt I was coming in part-way through, and having to learn both what was supposed to happen and why this dive was different from that at the same time.

I liked the premise of wreck diving in space, and Rusch has clearly talked with people who've done serious wreck diving on Earth, but "Boss" is too ready to make bad decisions and defend them in the face of all evidence, while apparently not realising that they're bad. She burns friends and allies without noticing she's doing it. The final section has a cast so large we don't even get introduced to most of them, and hardly anyone else has a personality.

And one vital plot point apparently teleports from hidden storage to "Boss"'s hand when she needs it, because the last time we heard about it it was safely stowed away out of sight, and then suddenly "I'm still holding the device". Sloppy editing.

Yeah, I wanted to love this. In the end I liked it. If it had had different people and plot, I'd have liked it much better. Followed by City of Ruins.

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