Friday, May 27, 2011

Cryoburn (Book)

Cryonics. Cute kids. Kidnapping. Corruption. Commoditized contracts. Critters.

I have begun my reading of the 2011 Hugo Award novel nominees with Lois McMaster Bujold’s Cryoburn, which is also nominated for the 2011 Locus Science Fiction Award. It is the 14th book in the Miles Vorkosigan Saga and was written eight years after the last book, Diplomatic Immunity. At this point Miles is 39.

The book centers on the concept of cryonics, freezing dead and terminally ill people with the hope of reviving them at a later time. Emperor Gregor sends Miles to investigate a corporation on Kiboudaini that wants to expand into Komarr, which is part of the empire. In the beginning of the book Miles evades a kidnapping attempt but is still drugged. While disoriented, Miles is befriended by a runaway boy, Jin. The boy’s mother, a protester against  cryonics  in favor of universal access to cryonics, was arrested and frozen, supposedly until the authorities can find a cure for the mental illness that caused her to protest. Miles now has two missions, to protect Komarr’s interests and to find out the truth about Jin’s mother.

I very much enjoyed reading Cryoburn. I believe that most fans of Miles will be very happy with it. I especially enjoyed the narrative. While Bujold wrote the novel in the third-person, she helps us look at events through the eyes of Jin and of Miles’ armsman Roic, adding a dimension to the story. I haven’t read the other Hugo nominees yet, so I don’t have an opinion about whether this is the best book. One inherent drawback is that it is a later book in a series. The very end of the book is not going to make any sense to people who have not read the earlier books.

Note: If you are new to the Miles Vorkosigan Saga and want to read the books, I recommend looking in the back pages of Cryoburn for a list of the novels and novellas. World Without End also has an excellent list. Be aware that the books were not written in order; ignore the dates and pay attention to the book number!!!! While Falling Free is an enjoyable book, you can skip it without missing much from the Miles plot. Shards of Honor and Barrayar are about Miles’ parents and events leading up to his birth. I read them in an Omnibus called Cordelia’s Honor. In order to understand many of the later books, you need to be familiar with the earlier ones.


Luke said...

Actually the mom was not protesting against cryonics, she was protesting in favor of cryonics (i.e. making it available to everyone, not just the rich).

I loved this book -- but I found the very end kind of disappointing. I understood what the author was going for, but it fell flat for me because it felt like a huge and sudden character reversal for Cordellia who was formerly very pro-life (something that was supported by the story). This criticism might not make too much sense if you hadn't read the earlier book it refers back to.

This book is written as a dystopian extreme of cryonics, but actually contains a lot of points in favor of cryonics -- it is far more balanced than you normally see. I especially related to the idea that in a world where some people have it, everyone should have equal access.

Kata Kollath said...

Thanks,Luke. I will correct my mistake. I enjoy hearing from other people who have read the book.