Thursday, September 16, 2010
If you're a big Lois McMaster Bujold fan, you probably already know this. If you're sort of a fan and haven't heard, you'll want to know. If you've never heard or read her stuff--well, you really should.
Cryoburn is the latest installment in Lois's wonderful series featuring Miles Vorkosigan, the frail, dashing, ever-resourceful and hopelessly romantic space-traveler who uses brains and charm to overcome severe physical handicaps as he flits around the universe in the service of his home planet's security force. If you're not familiar with these books, I can barely attempt to sum them up. Ms. Bujold has created a finely-textured, richly detailed, eminently logical--and deeply human--universe. The first in the series, Shards of Honor, finds Miles's future parents on opposite sides of a planetary war. Romance blossoms and in Barrayar they have married and are attempting to conceive in the midst of a fierce political battle that turns violent, with devastating effects on the child they finally manage to bring into the world. With Warrior's Apprentice, we jump ahead sixteen years to pick up the story of Miles and his struggle to live up to his father's--and his own--high expectations. And on we go from there--for ten (now eleven) terrific books, plus some short stories and spin-offs--following Miles as he learns the ropes of war and politics to become ever more respected--and powerful.
I've never been a big fan of sci-fi and fantasy stuff, but from the very first book in this series I was hooked. The characters grow and mature and take on wonderful shadings and subtleties. The dialogue is priceless, and Lois never misses an opportunity to mingle wry humor with taut action and a sprinkling of philosophical commentary.
I think her fans assumed that with Diplomatic Immunity, she had pretty much wrapped up Miles's tale. To our delight, she has sprung Cryoburn on us and I can safely say that it does not disappoint. Miles, now married and with a growing family, and thoroughly enjoying his job as an Imperial Auditor (read: galactic trouble-shooter), is sent to Kibou-Daini (also known as "New Hope") to investigate peculiar goings-on in that planet's cryogenics industry. Getting cryo-ed is now big business and virtually everyone, at some point, opts to be frozen alive, in the hope of awakening to a cure for disease or old age, or simply a more pleasant future. But corporate shenanigans threaten to wreak havoc on millions of slumbering customers unless someone gets to the bottom of a burgeoning scandal.
The writing, plotting and character development are as sharp as ever, and the philosophical issues make for some hair-raising contemplation. So cheers to Lois for giving us yet another Miles Vorkosigan novel. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for more.
Cryoburn will be released October 19th.