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City of Ruins Paperback – May 24, 2011
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About the Author
Kristine Kathryn Rusch is the author of Diving into the Wreck and Boneyards. She is an award-winning mystery, romance, science fiction, and fantasy writer. Her previous novel in this series, Diving into the Wreck, was nominated for Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Novel of 2009 in RT Book Reviews. She has written many novels under various names, including Kristine Grayson for romance, and Kris Nelscott for mystery. Her novels have made the bestseller lists—even in London—and have been published in fourteen countries and thirteen different languages. Her awards range from the Ellery Queen Readers Choice Award to the John W. Campbell Award. She is the only person in the history of the science fiction field to have won a Hugo award for editing and a Hugo award for fiction. Her short work has been reprinted in sixteen Year's Best collections. She is the former editor of the prestigious The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Before that, she and Dean Wesley Smith, started and ran Pulphouse Publishing, a science fiction and mystery press in Eugene. She lives and works on the Oregon Coast. Visit her online at kriswrites.com
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Boss sleeps on Nobody's Business, but never on the singleship. She always has it on manual mode looking for wrecks and spends her sleep periods in stations. On one voyage, she finds a Dignity Vessel.
In this novel, Boss is a professional, who has dived into over a thousand wrecked ships. She now manages a wreck-diving company that is also researching stealth technology. She has four Dignity Vessel wrecks tethered to her station and parts of two more on nearby ships.
Mikk and Roderick are the best professional divers in the company. They have made many dives through wrecked ships, including Dignity Vessels.
Ilona and Tamaz are trained divers. They work for Boss.
Matthew Bridge, Lentz and Gregory are scientists in the company. They have some dive training, but are not professional divers.
Lucretia Stone and Bernadette Ivy are archaeologists in the company. They too have some dive training.
Orlando Rea, Fahd Al-Nasir, Elaine Seager, Nyssa Quinte, Rollo Kerstin, and Julian DeVries have some dive training, but definitely are not professional divers. Yet they have a gene marker that indicates that they are not susceptible to the effects of stealth technology. These Six were lured away from the Empire researchers.
Jonathan Cooper is the captain of the Ivoire. They have escaped an attack by the Quurzod, but received damage. They have spent two weeks repairing the anacapa drive. Coop is now taking the ship to the Sector V base under Venice.
In this story, Ilona has found mentions of people dying in the tunnels underneath Vahcehn. The deaths seem much like the effects of stealth technology. Boss and twenty-nine others arrive in the city to check the causes of these deaths.
Vahceln is within the Empire and is the oldest city in the sector. The city government is not very cooperative, but Ilona gets permission for a team to examine the tunnels. The city does insist that the team use licensed guides.
Boss is not convinced that the deaths result from stealth tech, but she is gradually changing her mind. They find a tunnel under the city that has the sounds of stealth tech. When she returns with the Six to check out the area, they find a huge cavern with unknown technology.
Then a ship appears in the middle to the cavern. Luckily for Rea, Boss senses the changes and calls him out of the landing zone. Boss has a problem fighting off the gids when an active Dignity Vessel lands in front of her.
Meanwhile, the crew of the Ivoire are relieved that their ship has made it to the repair facility. Then they notice Boss and the Six within the cavern. Coop tells his crew to remain in the vessel and observe the intruders.
This tale has the Coop and his crew making contact with strangers from their future. Fahd and a linguist from the ship have found a language that they both partially understand. Both crews start studying their recordings of the meetings.
Boss shocks the Fleet crew by telling them how much time has passed since the base was last active. She also tries to explains their situation. Coop finally refuses to believe her without proof.
This story concludes with the diver crew fleeing the planet. The next installment in this series is Boneyards.
Highly recommended for Rusch fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of time travel, lost spaceships, and ship salvage. Read and enjoy!
-Arthur W. Jordin
In City of Ruins, the excellent follow-up to Diving into the Wreck, Boss runs a much larger operation and has become more of a manager than an explorer, but when she hears reports of mysterious deaths on a planet in the Enterran Empire -- deaths that suggest the presence of stealth tech on or below the surface of that planet -- she ventures into the Empire and participates actively in the attempt to track down and recover this potentially game-changing technology. What she finds there is more than she ever hoped for....
City of Ruins has just about everything that made Diving into the Wreck great, and a few extras. Returning again is the fascinating protagonist, who just goes by the name "Boss." She's an intensely private control freak with an empathy deficit that borders on the pathological. She's smart and strong and dedicated, but she lives for her work first and thinks of her employees more as cogs in a machine than as actual people. Or, in her own words:
"[...] I'm slowly learning, as I'm managing more and more staff, that people actually care what others think."
Much of City of Ruins is again narrated by Boss in a tight first person perspective and in the present tense, which leads to a staccato, almost choppy style. It's not pretty or elegant, but it's how Boss thinks and sees the world, and it immerses you completely into the action because her focus on what she's doing is never less than laser-like. It also means that many of the book's side-characters, especially Boss's team members, tend to be a bit faceless and bland, because Boss mainly thinks of most of them in terms of how they can hinder or help the mission.
One of the most pleasant surprises is that part of City of Ruins is narrated by Coop, a brand new character. Revealing exactly who he is would constitute a spoiler, so I'll let you discover it for yourself. Coop's chapters are told in the third person and in the past tense (which makes sense, if you think about it -- and that's about as broad a hint as I'll drop regarding his identity). He is also much more of a "people person" than Boss, and the contrast between their chapters really emphasizes how subtle Kristine Kathryn Rusch's narration has been with Boss throughout these first two books.
Some of the most memorable scenes in Diving into the Wreck were the in-depth looks at the dangers of exploring a derelict spacecraft. There's again plenty of this to be found in the new novel, but now the search takes place underground rather than in space, which creates an even stronger sense of claustrophobia. (It also leads Boss to wish she could turn off gravity, because unlike most people, she's more comfortable in space than on the ground.) City of Ruins contains some extremely tense scenes and underground adventures, always told in Boss's characteristically dispassionate tone. These scenes are definitely the most exciting parts of the novel, but they wouldn't work nearly as well if they weren't framed in the larger political drama that Rusch set up in the first novel and further expands in this sequel. Reading City of Ruins, you know that you're only seeing a small part of the puzzle, but at the same time you realize that these events will have a huge effect on the wider universe.
The only real issue I had with City of Ruins is a relatively minor one: Kristine Kathryn Rusch often ends her chapters with very short, overly dramatic paragraphs, often consisting of only one sentence that echoes part of the last one. I suppose this was meant to drive home the point and create a sense of drama, but it happens so frequently that it quickly starts to get annoying. Here's the end of Chapter 6 as a (randomly chosen)
"I nod. For the first time, I'm enjoying this project. I'm even looking forward to the work below ground.
Maybe that's because diving is my element, whether it's underground or in space. Or maybe it's because I finally believe we'll discover something.
Stealth tech or not, there's something here. Something old. Something interesting.
And here's another one, from Chapter 26:
""I don't like being underground," Roderick says softly, speaking to me.
"I'm not fond of it myself," I say. "But this is where we've chosen to work. Let's just be smarter about it the next time we come down here."
If there is a next time.
If we get out at all."
City of Ruins consists of over seventy short chapters, and too many of them end with an instance of this technique. It's almost like the dun-dun-duuuun used to emphasize the Big Revelation in old thrillers, but instead done every five to ten minutes. Once I became aware of this -- after the third or fourth time in almost as many chapters -- it started to distract me from an otherwise very engaging reading experience.
Aside from this minor point, City of Ruins is an excellent novel that combines adventure and excitement with solid world-building and subtle narration. By the time you turn the final page, you'll be very eager to find out where Kristine Kathryn Rusch is going to take this series next. Recommended -- but make sure to read Diving into the Wreck first.
Most recent customer reviews
I'm a science fiction reader, so it go's into my library.