Diving into the Wreck – Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Three novellas with the depth of a novel (sry bout that).

Stars: Four of five.

Review format: Review plus links.
Diving into the Wreck – Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Summary: 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. She wants to know about the past–to experience it firsthand. 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. It shouldn’t be here. Itcan’t be here. And yet, it is. Boss’s curiosity is up, and she’s determined to investigate. 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.What Boss finds could rewrite history, cost lives, and start an intergalactic war. (from the author’s site)
Provenance: Borrowed from the local library.

Diving into the Wreck is a work composed of three novellas, each picking up with the main story following the conclusion of the prior. The first two were previously published in Asimov’s Readers’ Choice  Award-winning novella  – “Diving into the Wreck”, and “Room of Lost Souls”.

In all sections, the first-person narrator is a female forty-something loner – pilot and wreck diver who seems only to go by the title/name Boss.  Although she works with teams often, being alone seems to be most important to her.  This character’s point of view is stronger than what I recall of her Retrieval Artist books.  Boss is a character worthy of the characterization skills Rusch demonstrated in the short story Elites.

The first novella stands on its own the best, although all seem as though they would be self-sufficient if you encounter them without backstory.  As it was, I found the internal novellas to be an asset to the book’s structure – they gave it an internal rhythm and focus that sometimes a longer book lacks.

Last one, though packed with the most external action, trailed off post-climax with tell-don’t-show groundwork for future storylines.

Ware Spoilers below

Links and other reviews   (added by me, not generated)

  • Wikipedia says there is a following book in this universe
  • Author’s website – go visit with Kris
  • Free excerpt online at the author’s site
  • Mervih summarizes the structure of the book nicely, though it’s a little heavier on spoilers than I would prefer.
  • Stainless Steel Droppings: “Have you ever been deep sea diving? I myself have not, but I have had the pleasure of snorkeling off the Hawaiian coast. On one such adventure I was swimming around just beneath the surface in some murky water and suddenly there was an enormous piece of an engine in front of me. It scared me and excited me at the same time. You would have thought I had come across some ancient shipwreck. That tiny adventure gave me a taste of what it must be like to dive wrecks, and Rusch captures that excitement and awe in a palpable way in this book. “
  • Neth – 20 years of scuba – says it rings true: “I can relate just a bit to what it’s like to leave your natural environment and enter one that is hostile to your life – where you are dependent on a suite [sic] that has a finite ability to sustain life. The few times that I’ve done anything approaching cave and wreck diving are among the most terrifying and thrilling experiences in my life. Obviously the recreational diving I’m familiar with is vastly different from penetrating a dark and unknown derelict space ship in an environment that is orders of magnitudes more hostile than the ocean. But the emotional response has to be similar. For me, Rusch captures this very well”


  • The author’s site and the book jacket both refer to the main character as if her name is ‘Boss’.  Is that really, really making sense to anyone?  I thought she prefers to be called Boss in lieu of Captain… but that doesn’t lead to sentences like ‘Boss likes to explore wrecks’ vs ‘Captain likes to explore wrecks’.  Wait, do we never know her name? That’s odd.
  • Tight space suits.  Ah, well, at least (the) Boss mentions it as a preference with actual functional reasoning, vs the gratuitous cover ploy common to Babes with Blasters, such as this one.
  • I realized mid-book that my edition has no Table of Contents and I felt suddenly adrift.  I was reading the third story, but there was a lot of book left. I wondered it three novellas? four?  Three I know.

Things I liked

  • The detail in the writing – Boss’ fascination with the historical.  Rivets!
  • There was great verisimilitude with the wreck dive mechanics – tracking respiration rate and heartbeat.  I don’t know if scuba divers are that careful – but it made a lot of sense within the context of this story.
  • The whole thing is written in first-person and present tense.  As I was collecting other review links, I saw a comment regarding the tense, and just had to see for myself. Yes, present tense and very well done. I didn’t notice any awkwardness from the approach.


Did I overlook your review? Let me know in a comment, and I can add the link here.

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  1. #1 by Shannon on September 22, 2011 - 9:25 pm

    I was somehow given the versatile blogger award, so now I’m passing it on to you since I really enjoy reading so many of your reviews.

    • #2 by Sandy M. on September 23, 2011 - 8:58 am

      Well, thanks! Shannon. A virtual award, hmm, where should I keep it? 😉 You’ve made my blogging day.

      Off I go to locate some worthy folks to whom I should bequeath this accolade. Sorry for the florid vocab: too much coffee; and, excited.

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