Monday, March 15, 2010

Diving into the Wreck by Kristine Rusch

Posted by Simcha 8:52 AM, under | 6 comments

While I have been an avid fantasy reader for most of my life, it’s only recently that I’ve begun reading science fiction, and those have been mostly older classics. But after reading a couple of interesting reviews of Kristine Rusch’s Diving into the Wreck, I decided that it was time to expand my horizons and try some more modern SF. I also have no experience with SF space adventures- I've never even watched a single episode of Star Track or any of the Star Wars films- so this was my opportunity to try some space adventuring as well.

Diving into the Wreck is divided into three sections, each of which reads like a short novella, but which build on each other to tell a single story. The first two parts were actually each previously published as separate short stories and each won Asimov’s Readers Choice Award for Best Novella.

Boss, as she is known to her friends and co-workers, is a professional wreck diver who spends her days exploring deep space in search of abandoned spaceships. These ancient discoveries are explored and studied and will often be turned over to museums for preservation or will become sites for tourists to visit. But each night Boss is tormented by nightmares of the day, almost forty years ago, when her mother disappeared into the Room of Lost Souls, leaving behind her young daughter.

Boss’s experiences have turned her into a solitary figure who prefers to live and work alone, except when she requires a team to help her investigate a newly discovered wreck. In the first part of the book, Boss comes across a lost ship, while returning from a salvage operation, which she excitedly tracks down. But when she reached the calculated location, Boss is shocked by her possible discovery, and she rushes home to do some research and put together a diving team.

The story then follows the team’s preparations for the dive and the surprising discoveries that they make- discoveries that come at a severe cost to Boss and her team. In the following two sections, Boss, who is living with the repercussions of her earlier diving adventure, is given the opportunity to explore the place of her nightmares, where her mother had disappeared. But her explorations will uncover some unexpected answers that will lead Boss to take a stand against those who would use her discoveries for dangerous purposes.

Diving into the Wreck is an exciting, fast paced adventure that, once I started, I had a hard time putting down. I have never been deep sea diving, but Rusch’s vivid, and often eerie, descriptions of Boss’s dives into the depths of outer space, almost make me feel like I have.

    I spend most of my time going over and over my equipment looking for flaws. Much as I want to dive this wreck—and I have since the first moment I saw her—I’m scared of the deep and the dark and the unknown. Those first few instances of weightlessness always catch me by surprise, always remind me that what I do is somehow unnatural….Descending into the hatch is trickier than it looks on the recordings. The edges are sharper; I have to be careful about where I put my hands. ...

    Gravity isn’t there to pull at me. I can hear my own breathing, harsh and
    insistent, and I wonder if I shouldn’t have taken Squishy’s advice: a ten/ten/ten split on my first dive instead of a twenty/twenty/twenty. It takes less time to reach the wreck now; we get inside in nine minutes flat. I would’ve had time to do a bit of acclimatizing and to have a productive dive the next time.

Diving into the Wreck is focused largely on Boss, from whose perspective the story is told. She is a complex character who prefers to maintain her distance from others but is also watchful and protective of those in her care. Throughout the story, Boss’s character slowly evolves as she deals with the repercussions of tragic events from the past, and attempts to find a way to right some of those wrongs that she herself participated in.

While Boss is a character that readers can easily connect with, unfortunately the same can’t be said for most of the other characters, who were largely left on the sidelines. The reader is briefly told about the other members of Boss’s team, but I didn’t feel that I really got to know any of them. No personal interactions between the team members are described and no relationships seem to develop, which I thought was odd considering that they spent a substantial amount of time confined together on the ship. Even had Boss herself not participated, just recounting that such interactions occurred would have made the other characters seem more real. There were a couple of exceptions- characters who were fleshed out a bit more fully when the story required them- but I felt the story would have affected me a lot more intensely had I felt a deeper connection to more of the characters.

I also felt that the book lacked a clear explanation of what stealth technology is, which would have been appropriate considering that most of the events in the books were centered around it. While the ancient stealth technology is apparently very dangerous, I didn’t understand how it was different from the stealth technology that was currently in use. While I’m not one who requires extensive scientific explanations of complicated technology, just a bit more of an explanation would have been appreciated.

I will admit that I was surprised by how thoroughly engrossed I was by Diving into the Wreck and that it was a lot more readable and entertaining then I had expected. The events in the story, while taking place 5,000 years in the future, were still believable enough that I had no trouble following along, and I didn’t feel like I missed anything by not having before read space travel books. The only thing that could have made it better would have been a stronger cast of supporting characters, though perhaps in the sequel the rest of the team will get to share the spotlight.


Great review! I really enjoyed this book, although I think I found some of the same points as you. But overall I thought it was really good. I think there's a sequel in the works too :)

This is definitely one I want to read soon! :)

Book Chick City: I actually took longer then usual to write this review because I wanted to understand why no one else who reviewed this book touched on these points, which for me were very important. While I enjoyed Diving into the Wreck, I didn't feel the same level of enthusiasm as many of it's other reviewers, so I visited around a bit to try to understand the other reviewers' perspectives. I think in the end, character development was a more critical factor for me then then others. But it was still a great book.

TJ: I look forward to hearing your opinion of it, when you do.

I can't believe you have not seen any Star Trek or Star Wars movie! That is amazing. :)

Great review. This books sounds like a great read. I have not heard of it until now. Thanks for sharing it!

Melissa: Yeah, I guess they just never really interested me. I have become rather curious about Star Wars, since it seems to be so universally loved, so I might end up watching it some day. But movies and shows about aliens, spaceships and space travel never really appealed to me.

I am not a huge fan of Star Wars but I did love watching Star Trek. But, I have seen the Star Wars movies since they were big when I was younger and they have been on tv and such. But you will have to watch them just to say you have seen them. :)

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