Diving into the Wreck is the first in the “diving” series authored by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. It was published in 2009, but (like many novels) originally the concepts were presented in short stories and novellas. So far, the books in the series have been published by Pyr publishing in Amherst, NY.
Boss loves to dive historical ships, derelict spacecraft found adrift in the blackness between the stars. Sometimes she salvages for money, but mostly she’s an active historian. Once she’s dived the ship, she’ll either leave it for others to find or file a claim so that she can bring tourists to dive it as well. It’s a good life for a tough loner, with more interest in artifacts than people. Then one day, Boss finds the claim of a lifetime: an enormous spacecraft, incredibly old, and apparently Earth-made. It’s impossible for something so old, built in the days before Faster Than Light travel, to have journeyed this far from Earth. She hires a group of divers to explore the wreck with her, the best team she can assemble. But some secrets are best kept hidden, and the past won t give up its treasures without exacting a price in blood.
The novel is broken into several parts:
- Part one: Diving Into The Wreck
- Part two: The Room of Lost Souls
- Part three: The Heart of the Machine
To be honest, I did not know this and when I finished the first part and started the second, it was a jarring experience. A lot of time expired without any warning between the end of the first part and the start of the second. In fact, it took several chapters for me to realize the storyline was actually continuing from the first part. Finally, I began to see the connections and plotlines and I was happily reading along again. Still, the train wreck between part one and two could probably have been smoothed a little bit.
This is not a “hard science-fiction” novel. By that I mean, a novel which contains strict physics, chemistry, and biology and utilizes the science as much, if not more, than the fiction parts. There are concepts that are definitely science-fiction in this book – particularly stealth technology. The author does not involve herself in detailing and explaining the scientific aspects of the book. In fact, the main character says several times that she is not a scientist and knows only what is necessary to fly her ship, dive the wrecks, or maneuver through the system. I had no problem with this situation, although I know some readers focus more on the science.
I enjoyed the first part of the book. I liked how the main character (Boss) comes upon a mysterious ancient wreck and gets a team together to dive it. I liked the (somewhat) slow pacing of the diving. The reader can really tell that the author really thought through the concept of “diving” wrecks in space. The whole story is supposed to be about “space diving,” so if this concept had not been so thorough, I doubt it would have been a good novel. The novel is, in climactic points in each part, suspenseful and gripping. Diving a wreck in space, while at first seeming boring, actually is something I could read a lot more about. It’s intense and fun.
I feel like I wanted more out of the Room of Lost Souls. It is written about in a way that builds suspense. It is a creepy and spooky sort of room. Sure, as the main character learns more information, some of the “spooky” disappears as it is replaced by greedy human motivations and military science projects, but I wanted more out of the room. I guess that though it is sufficiently written, these parts could have been awesome. Nevertheless, the stealth technology becomes the main point and though we really do not learn much about The Room, we learn enough to wonder what will happen next.
The main character is a bit difficult to like. She is a loner who takes her privacy very seriously – her ship is named Nobody’s Business. She also tries to be a good judge of character when picking her dive teams. Her inner monologue is not whining or vague, but usually to the point and on topic. The dialogue is much the same way in the book. Characters do not go on long-winded rants and raves. They do not share with us inane things that are irrelevant to the story. It’s actually quite nice to read a novel in which the dialogue is not the author’s big focus. Other characters are tolerable. I know that we are supposed to really like the character Karl, but I just felt ambivalent towards most of the characters. The character named “Squishy” is someone the reader will want to punch.