Lois McMaster Bujold
Baen Books, November 2010
So, in case you all didn’t know, I’m a total slacker. I’m also extremely stubborn. I was first handed Lois McMaster Bujold’s Cryoburn last summer. While I got right to work on reading it, AND finishing the review, I just never got the review typed. And then tragedy struck: I lost my SciFi4Me notebook. It’s a very specific notebook with the big “What is genre?” bubble chart, my first ideas for The Geekly, and my review. Now, why I mention that I’m stubborn is simple: once I’ve done something and lost it, I’m really not going to do it over…even when I really, really should. As such, I held off on rewriting said review. Finally, though, after moving into the new apartment (actually, truthfully in the packing of the old apartment) I found my notebook! How relieved I was to find that little piece of purple ambrosia! So, now, without any more stalling, I present at long last, my review!
Of course, for those of you who are familiar with the Vorkosigan Saga, you’ll realize that Cryoburn is not the 1st but actually the 27th publication of the universe. Going into the novel, I had never read any of the other publications. The nice part about it? I was unbiased…and now I really want to read the rest of them. In my personal opinion, a skilled author can bring in new fans at any point in a series. While the experienced reader may catch some clues or enjoy the obscure joke or tie-in, the work should not be unenjoyable (or unreadable) for one who picks up the book unknowing of its position in a number of works. Bravo to Ms. Bujold for her ability!
My first impression of the novel (based on its cover) was that of a futuristic world in which many concerns in our world exist. My impressions weren’t too far off, as the themes within the novel reflect both a dystopia but also a sense of modern problems as immortal struggles lend to an ageless quality.
The novel is pretty straightforward: Miles Vorkosigan, who is now 39, has been assigned to inspect the going-ons of “cryo-corps” on Kibou-daini. The theory is simple as well, the cryo-corps are competing for the business of the sick and dying (and even some of the young people) to freeze their bodies for revival later on (yup, there’s a creepier twist on cryogenics). The novel opens with a very lost Miles and moves on to include a local boy, Jin Sato. I won’t say too much more on the plot as I’m not one that likes giving away too much, but I’ll say that, even though some of the plot was predictable as the end neared, there were enough twists to keep me in the book.
As far as everything else, I fell in love with the style. LMB’s style, especially when it came to dialogue and its coupling with inner narrative, was fantastic. Her characters interact appropriately, which is something you don’t always see. I was especially impressed at the simple wonderment from the little Jin Sato. He was crystal clear to me, and his personality reminded me of my own little brother. It thrilled me to the core. The struggle Miles faces of getting older is certainly apparent and I can’t say enough positive about the various “nasties” throughout the book (such as the WhiteChrys CEO, the people back where Jin is hiding out). They’re impeccable! Now, I really can’t say too much more without giving away SOMETHING…so let’s keep it simple: get your butt off of your computer chair and go get this book! It’s not only worth your time, but it’s worth buying the whole darn saga just to get to this book! Epic win!