Grasping for the Wind Rotating Header Image

Book Review: Diving into the Wreck by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

# Genre: Science Fiction, Adventure
# Paperback: 375 pages
# Publisher: Pyr
# Publication Date: November 24, 2009
# ISBN-10: 1591027861
# ISBN-13: 978-1591027867
# Author Website: Kristine Kathryn Rusch

The adventure-filled story of Diving into the Wreck was first introduced to readers with a novella (of the same name) in the August 2005 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. That original novella (expanded and updated) serves as the first of the three part story of Boss, a female historian and diver who uses her ship Nobody’s Business to find and explore wrecked spaceships five thousand years into humanity’s future.

The novel is, in essence, a science fiction version of the tales of the scientists and divers who explore the world’s oceans, looking not for treasure only, but also a better sense of history. But as with our modern day explorers, the discoveries can lead in unexpected directions.

In the first part of the novel, (which is primarily the original novella) Boss discovers an ancient ship from Old Earth that by all science should not be in her sector of space, it being too far for these old military vessels to travel in the days before faster-than-light. Yet, somehow, this vessel is there and it exists. Assembling a team of divers, Boss leads them to dive the wreck, where they discover an ancient and lethal technology from Old Earth. As the section closes, Boss has learned a painful lesson about herself, and has given up wreck-diving completely.

The latter two sections of this novel conclude the open-ended (in terms of characterization) story from the original novella. Though Boss had left wreck-diving, she is soon embroiled in it again when she is asked to enter The Room of Lost Souls, a mysterious room aboard and abandoned space station where people have disappeared over many years. The Room serves as a Bermuda Triangle of that sector of space. Boss takes up the challenge, but finds herself pitted against the power and might of the space empire that rules her sector of space. Even so, she wrestles with her own demons, having once encountered the Room before as a young girl, and barely surviving the experience.

Author Kristine Kathryn Rusch has been publishing and editing for years. She has won many awards, including two Hugo’s and a World Fantasy Award. She is a skilled writer who draws the reader in with seemingly no effort. Diving into the Wreck is a flawless adventure, being both extremely exciting in plot and populated with interesting characters. At its center lies Boss, through whose perspective the entire story is told. The use if first person keeps the story intimate for the reader and also allows Rusch to keep her writing tight and clean, with no superfluous flourishes.

When the opportunity arises to create a love story between Boss and another diver, Rusch chooses not to, but yet still forges an intimate connection between them that provides another, powerful layer of motivation for Boss’s actions. Rusch sees humans as more than sexual beings, and does not have to resort to including sex to create a vibrant tale of danger and suspense. By doing this, Rusch connects readers with Boss at a much deeper level than mere physicality, ultimately creating a much more intense and powerful understanding of the character.

Like the protagonist, the novel is no-nonsense, eventful, occasionally mysterious narrative that contains all the best dialogue of a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, the adventure of an Indiana Jones movie, and the philosophical and scientific chops of Isaac Asimov himself. In many ways, the story is a throwback to when space fiction had the sense of wonder about the future that was so prevalent during the Space Race. This is missing in many new novels today, and Rusch’s tale of Boss and her company of wreck divers is a breath of fresh air in a world of writing that is increasingly more cynical and depressed. Diving into the Wreck is highly recommended reading for anyone who enjoys space adventure stories, superb characterization, and tight plotting. Rusch is one of the premier writers in the genre today, and her facility with writing is something all others should aspire to.