01/07/2012. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Pyr/Prometheus Books. 299 page enlarged paperback. Price: $16.00 (US). ISBN: 978-1-61614-369-5.
check out websites: www.pyrsf.com and www.kriswrites.com
Rather than seeking out stealth technology off of derelict spacecraft this time, the oddly named Boss is now running a large organisation and has a big support team when she investigates the ruins beneath the city of Vaycehn, where fourteen archaeologists had previously died. Hence book two's title, 'City Of Ruins' by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.
In contrast to Boss' first person narration, there is a third person story of the starship Ivoire evading enemies and using the anacapa space-folding technology to evade attack. You know that that these two plots have to cross, don't you?
Now, how much to give away without becoming too spoiler. Boss has got it wrong in regards to what is stealth technology as the clue is given in the previous paragraph and that it is malfunctioning equipment to blame for what she interprets. Captain Cooper of the Ivoire has a tougher prospect, especially when he realises his starship has been propelled some time into the future and that communication is a problem. Having the story switch perspectives in many alternative chapters keeps the reader informed. In many respects, Cooper's people is more like us than Boss' people are. It's a shame really that we don't see examples of the differences as from our perspective we only see each speaking their colloquial English.
With the anacapa device problems being solved, there is still an impending crisis from the people of Vaycehn, who have had intensive casualties from the disruption it's been causing and Boss and her people have to seek refuge in the Ivoire which should lead directly into the third book, which will be reviewed next month.
There are several things I've learnt from this book. Boss doesn't like her normal name and uses her title as a name. Quite why there is no such thing as a deed poll in the future to change your own name wasn't disclosed. Maybe she sees it as a psychological advantage. There is also a reason why these ancient starships are called Dignity Vessels as that was what they were supposed to do originally with their peaceful mission to the stars.
There is some confusion about Vaycehn. Its inhabitants are very chauvinistic and Boss has to use one of her male team to instruct the local guide yet Illona, who is very much female, is used to communicate with the local government when you would have thought a man would have had more of a presence.
I'm not sure over Rusch pointing out that one of the Ivoire's crew by being small and agile could tolerate a heavy gravity when its strong bones and muscles that are likely to win out. After all, gravity pulls anyone down regardless of weight or mass or Isaac Newton would clearly have gotten it wrong.
In some respects, this book moved along slowly at first. Rusch spends a lot of time describing each of the team and crew and then doesn't dwell on them very much. It's also a shame that she didn't change her writing style to differentiate between the two groups because they both sound like they've come out of the same box. Considering her background in other genres, you would have thought that Rusch would know how to do this more effectively.
The fact that it appears that Boss has been wrong about stealth technology in the previous book should make many of you reading the second book to evaluate the first book, 'Diving Into The Wreck', again. Although not stated in either book, the genetic markers that make Boss and six of her team immune to the earlier technology suggests who they are descended from.
The middle books of all trilogies are build-ups for the conclusion. This one appears to be no exception to this. Quite where it will lead can only be revealed later as for now, all this action has taken part in an alien planet backwater. Things are likely to change when the Empire hears about it. Whether the use of the anacapa device will jump away from this problem, only time will tell.
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