Becalmed by Kristine Kathryn Rusch science fiction audiobook reviewsBecalmed by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Becalmed by Kristine Kathryn Rusch science fiction audiobook reviewsKristine Kathryn Rusch’s Becalmed (2012), a novella originally published in 2011 in Asimov’s Magazine, acts as a prequel to the second DIVING UNIVERSE novel, City of Ruins. You can read it at any point in the series.

Becalmed tells the story of how the spaceship Ivoire, captained by Jonathon “Coop” Cooper, was damaged as it entered foldspace after a failed diplomatic mission to the Quurzod people on the planet Ukhanda. It’s this event that triggers the main story arc of the rest of the DIVING series. The disaster was referred to in City of Ruins, but not fully explained, so it’s nice to get the story here and to understand the role that Coop’s ex-wife Mae, a linguist, played in the events.

As the story begins, the Ivoire is already in foldspace. Nobody knows what foldspace is – perhaps another dimension, another time, or an alternate reality. Usually ships are able to program their course so that they go into foldspace for just a short period of time (e.g., to escape an enemy) and pop out when it’s safe again. But since the Ivoire was damaged just as it entered, the anacapa drive that controls this mysterious form of travel has malfunctioned and now they’re stuck (hence the title “Becalmed”). Eventually they’ll run out of food.

Mae is worried about more than this, though. She’s been confined to her quarters because she’s responsible for the mishap that not only got them into this pickle but also killed most of her diplomatic team. However, she has no memory of what happened on the planet. Obviously, it was traumatic, so it’s not surprising that she has symptoms of PTSD. The only way to get answers and clear her name is to go through a treatment that will force her to relive the horrible memories.

Diving into the Wreck by Kristine Kathryn RuschBecalmed answers a few questions I had when reading City of Ruins. On its own, it’s not too exciting, but it fills in some backstory that enhanced my enjoyment of the DIVING series. Most importantly, we get to know Mae, we learn about two other human species in the universe, and we find out how the Ivoire got stuck in foldspace.

By the end of Becalmed the Ivoire is still in foldspace, so if you want to know how the crew escapes, you’ll need to read City of Ruins, my favorite novel (so far) in the series.

The audiobook edition of Becalmed is narrated by Flora Plumb who does a nice job with this and the other DIVING novellas.

Published in 2011. Mae, chief linguist on the Ivoire, heads a diplomatic mission to Ukhanda. Her handling of relations with the Quurzod lead to a battle that causes the Ivoire’s anacapa drive to malfunction, stranding the ship in foldspace. Mae can’t remember what she did wrong on the mission: all she knows is that she’s one of the few survivors. If she doesn’t recall it, she won’t be able to prevent another disaster when the Ivoire escapes foldspace. If the Ivoire escapes foldspace. Because what no one talks about—and everyone fears—is that the Ivoire is becalmed…forever.


  • Kat Hooper

    KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.