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The Miles Vorkosigan Saga
Lois McMaster Bujold
Baen Books

The Miles Vorkosigan Saga
Lois McMaster Bujold
Lois McMaster Bujold was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1949. She attended Ohio State and later worked as a pharmacy technician at the Ohio State University Hospitals. She has two children and now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her first novel, Shards of Honor, was completed in 1983 and published in 1986. Her first professional sale was a story in 1984 to Twilight Zone Magazine. Falling Free was her first Nebula Award. Since then she has won another Nebula, and 4 Hugo Awards.

Lois McMaster Bujold Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Paladin of Souls
SF Site Review: The Curse of Chalion
SF Site Review: The Spirit Ring
Excerpt: The Curse of Chalion

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Regina Lynn Preciado

I went to Hawai'i for the first time in fall of 2003. With a full day to spend in airport lines and on planes, I made sure to pack several thick books in my backpack so I would never have a dull moment.

I may be the only tourist ever to wish that the big island was further away, but Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan series had me hooked from the first page to the last. I confess I even lingered in my hotel room when I could have been at the beach because I didn't want to put the book down long enough to get myself out the door.

When I returned to the mainland, I scoured local bookshops for the rest, and begged a copy of Diplomatic Immunity from the SF Site reviewer library to fill in the gaps.

Bujold has created a living, breathing universe in which well-rounded characters live out lives of unusual danger, passion, and intellect. Miles Vorkosigan himself is a charismatic leader with physical disabilities that make him an outcast at best -- and an abomination at worst -- on his home planet. His overwhelming need to prove himself is at the root of his intense, suspenseful adventures, whether in the military, the security service, the mercenary fleet, or the diplomatic corps.

Science fiction is often thought to be driven by plot and technology, but every aspect of these novels grows out of Miles' strength of character. Even Ethan of Athos in which Miles only appears peripherally, vibrates from the force of his presence.

Each story also considers the broader picture of human frailty and strength, with themes that resonate in our own Earth-bound time. In Shards of Honor and Barrayar, Miles's parents set aside mind-boggling cultural differences (i.e. she's from the egalitarian Beta and he's from the patriarchal, feudal Barrayar) to fall in love and have an "imperfect" child. Brothers in Arms and Mirror Dance examines cloning from various angles, from the ethical to the practical. Recurring character Bel Thorne -- a hermaphrodite from a Betan colony produced by genetic engineering experiments -- makes us realize just how much influence gender and our assumptions about it has on our relationships.

Ethan of Athos explores how a completely male culture might evolve if uterine replicators were available and women were no longer necessary for child-bearing. (My favorite scene is that where Ethan learns from Miles' lieutenant Elli Quinn that on other worlds, child-rearing is not a highly respected, highly competitive, and highly paid career like it is on Athos. In fact, in most other cultures, women are expected to do it for free. Ethan is utterly and profoundly shocked by this, especially considering the dedication and long hours it takes to raise a child.)

The series includes about twenty novels, short stories, and novellas, give or take a few. Each fits into a chronology (helpfully provided at the back of most of the newer releases), even though Bujold wrote the series out of order from the characters' points of view. I recommend reading the stories in order of story chronology rather than publication date to experience the full range of Miles' and his companions' development.

These books have enough plot and technology to please hardcore sci-fi fans and enough suspense and emotion to please fantasy and mainstream readers as well. Bujold is a master writer whose prose continues to impress with every book. If you haven't discovered her yet, hie thee to a bookstore and take a week off of work -- you won't regret it.

Copyright © 2004 Regina Lynn Preciado

Freelance writer Regina Lynn Preciado lives in her truck but maintains a household in Los Angeles. Find out what else she's reading in her book blog.

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