by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Cover Artist: Dave Seeley
Review by Cathy Green
Pyr Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781616145439
Date: 24 January 2012 List Price $16.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Boss is back for another adventure in Boneyards, the latest book in the series by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Building on the events of last year's City of Ruins, Boss and her people and Captain Jonathan "Coop" Cooper and the crew of the Dignity Vessel Ivoire are exploring defunct sector bases and investigating rumors of Dignity Vessels to try to find a way to get the Ivoire back to the rest of the Fleet and get Boss more access to the stealth tech as a way to fight the Enterran Empire, which is trying unsuccessfully to harness the technology for their own purposes. If the Empire succeeds in unlocking the mysteries of stealth technology it would drastically alter the balance of power and make the Enterran Empire unstoppable. Thus, the stakes are quite high for everyone in Boneyards.
The book opens with Boss and her crew and Coop and his crew exploring the now defunct and in ruins Sector Base W, a base that was still under construction when Coop and his crew became caught in foldspace five thousand years ago. The damaged condition of the base disturbs Coop and his people, although they hope the damage was just caused by the passage of so much time. Sector Bases were well defended and Dignity Vessels were well armed. It would take a very powerful ship with very powerful armaments to destroy a sector base and/or Dignity Vessels. If some group is out there that could match or exceed the power of the Fleet, maybe the Fleet has been destroyed. And what if they're still out there and maybe coming back? That wouldn't be good for either the Nine Planets Alliance or the Enterran Empire.
The exploration of Sector Base W having proved unhelpful, Boss and Coop go in search of Sector Base Y. Given their lack of success in the search for planetside Sector Bases, they also decide to look for Star Bases, which are likely to follow a much more predictable trajectory. Given the sort of things that happen when stealth tech isn't properly maintained, they decide to investigate an area of space where neither the Enterran Empire nor the Nine Planets will send ships. The area of space is completely unaligned, which should make for an interesting adventure and there are rumors of a group of ships traveling together which could just be cargo ships banding together for protection, or it could be a story from when the Fleet passed through. Boss and Coop set out with a team under cover identities to investigate. They do not find what they were looking for, but they find something that could be better and which could radically alter the balance of power.
In addition to Boss and Coop's story, as in City of Ruins, Rusch has a second viewpoint story. In the case of Boneyards, it is not a second viewpoint of the same events, but rather an entirely different story. While Boss and Coop are busy with their investigation, Squishy puts together her own team to sneak back into the Enterran Empire's territory to destroy the base where the Empire is conducting its current stealth tech experiments. Having spent a significant part of her life working as a stealth tech scientist for the Empire, no one knows better than Squishy the disastrous consequences of experimenting with the technology without a clear understanding of what it is meant to do. Squishy hopes that with this mission she can permanently destroy the Empire's ability to experiment with stealth tech. Of course, things do not go as planned and Squishy may have put Boss and her people in danger.
With this latest novel in the series, Rusch considerably advances the overall plot arc. She also nicely weaves together Squishy and Boss's stories at the end of the book. The sections devoted to Squishy fill in her back story and go a long way toward explaining Squishy's actions at the end of Diving into the Wreck, as well as tying up several outstanding plot threads. Fans of the series will definitely enjoy the latest entry in the Diving universe. Boneyards is not, however, a book that makes an easy entry point for readers who have not read any of the previous novels or novellas set in the same universe. I am very much looking forward to the next installment in the series.