July 23, 2017

Review: City of Ruins by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

Out in May from Pyr Books!

Sometimes, the greatest science fiction adventures above take place in the realms below. This week, we’ll give you a sneak peek at Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s City of Ruins out from Pyr Books next month. Fans of this space will remember the first book in the series, Diving into the Wreck reviewed last year. In this much anticipated sequel, we follow Boss and team as they explore what may be their biggest find yet; a labyrinth of ancient caverns beneath the surface of the planet Vaycehn that hint at the vaunted Stealth Technology of the ancient Dignity Vessels. Boss, a loner at heart, has expanded her team out of necessity and, as in the first novel, runs perilously close in balancing her love of exploring ancient Dignity Vessels with not attracting the attention of the Empire, who would love to exploit Stealth Technology to their own ends. Such a discovery would, of course, tip the precarious political balance that is in place, allowing one side to dominate.

Ruins places Boss and crew both in and out of their element at the same time; if Diving into the Wreck was deep-sea diving placed in deep space, then City of Ruins is science fiction spelunking with a high tech twist. Boss is familiar with the ancient technology of the Dignity Vessels but the subterranean environment is as bizarre and strange to her as it is to us as we explore it along with her. The natives of Vaycehn are less than helpful to her cause and apathetic at best, but of course the caverns and the malfunctioning technology play no small part in the mysterious “death holes” that are tearing their world asunder.

I won’t add any spoilers to the book; (read it; it’s that good!) But let’s just say that Stealth Tech and the Dignity Vessels aren’t what they appear to be, as Boss and crew are about to get a cosmic history lesson up close and personal. The Diving universe is along the lines of a future Diaspora-style tale, a universe thousands of years in the future were humanity has populated the cosmos and Earth is but a distant memory. Frank Herbert’s Dune series and Mike Resnick’s Starship saga also fit the bill.

The book fits well as a second act of a trilogy, as the ending leaves several unanswered questions and sets the scene for a sequel. Is history always what we’re told? City of Ruins frames this question well…with engaging characters to boot. Boss maybe one of the most enduring science fiction heroines of recent memory, a Han Solo-type that’s down to business (her ship is named Nobody’s Business, in fact!) and a reluctant player on the galactic scene of building political intrigue…onward to book three!

Can’t get enough of Boss and crew? In addition to the two full length books, tales of the Diving Universe have also graced the pages of Asimov’s December 2005, April/May 2008, April/May 2009, and October/November 2010 respectively. A new tale, Becalmed, is set to appear in Asimov’s this year.      

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