Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Solar Mirror


A Baen Book,
Lois McMaster Bujold, 1998,
cover art by Gary Ruddell.
ISBN: 0-671-87877-8.

Last weekend, a pair of my Infants showed up to exchange a box of books.

I feed them. They feed me.

Komarr is the 12th in Bujold's The Vorkosiagan Saga, a series which features the adventures of Miles Vorkosigan, the Lord Regent's son and sometimes spy, who has a genius for getting into - and out- of the impossible situations that sometimes occur between cultures of empire, honour, conquest and rebellion.

This is a good book - but this is not a book review.

Rather, I shall keep this book because for me it is a text book/tool-box book: for three crafty reasons.

(1) an illustration of how to develop a non-conventional and thoroughly engaging hero. Among other things, Miles, as a result of an attack on his mother when he was in vivo, is short. Very short. But there is nothing quaint or clown-like about him.

(2) a model showing how to introduce expositional/backstory material essential to the plot without boring the reader. In this case it's hard SF - with jump-points, worm holes and terraforming - but the technique applies to foundation facts in any genre.

(3) an example of how to develop a romantic sub-plot, naturally and effectively so it dove-tails beautifully and seemlessly with the main conflict at the climax.

The story also delivers psychological depth along with action. With minimal effort.

Not many stories satisfy both the reader and the writer at the same time.


My Bumper Sticker: Do you want to die now - or in my next novel?

29 comments:

Angie said...

Bujold rocks truckloads of socks, as does Miles. [nodnod] I've been reading this series from the beginning and I love how Miles grows and changes throughout his story arc, and how different the books in that series can be from one another. Shards of Honor, about Miles's parents, is a great romance novel while still being excellent SF. The book after the one you mention here, A Civil Campaign, is classic comedy-of-manners romance, while also maintaining its SF roots. But in the middle we have rite-of-passage stories like "Mountains of Mourning," and mystery-adventures like Cetaganda, and dense, psychological stories like Mirror Dance.

This whole Barrayar-based series would make an excellent textbook for any writer because Bujold does pretty much everything beautifully -- plotting, character building, relationship development, worldbuilding (and how!) -- and it's all worth studying as well as enjoying.

Great pick.

Angie

Church Lady said...

LOL! That bumper sticker is great!

StarvingWriteNow said...

Great bumper sticker! That gave me a nice laugh to start the day. Thanks!

kmfrontain said...

LOL! Love the bumper sticker. :D

I love checking out well written books to see what made them work. :-)

Bernita said...

Thank you, Angie. Very glad you expanded my basic comments - I've only read the one so I couldn't honestly say if the others delivered the same versatile brilliance.

Thank you, Chris and Starving - expresses my vicious side.

Karen, I think you would really enjoy Bujold (if you haven't read her already).

Jaye Wells said...

How great to be able to dissect a work like that. I need to do that to some of my faves to see how they tick.

Bernita said...

Jaye, Bujold does it so well, so smoothly, it takes careful dissection.

bunnygirl said...

I haven't read anything by that particular author, but I can relate to having a book that's a favorite as much for its how-to-write value as for the story itself.

Bernita said...

I think you'd enjoy this one for both, Bunny.
I was really impressed.

calderwoodbooks said...

Love those kind of books.
And lol about the bumper sticker!!!

Charles Gramlich said...

Hum, I'm having more trouble getting "weirdly" than I had imagined. I tried to register at Wild Child but I never got the confirmation email. I sent them an email at their "contact" addy but it bounced back this morning. Now on the site I don't see a place to register easily, which you apparently need to be before you can buy something. I'll keep trying but they aren't making it that easy.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Sam.
Double for the money.

Well, that sucks, Charles.
I am very sorry.
My daughter said ordering was easy.

raine said...

The book sounds interesting. May have to go fishing...
Love that bumper sticker, lol.
You're so nice to give them a choice. ;-)

Bernita said...

~dripping from the pail of cold water Charles just threw in my face~

Thank you, Raine. The library probably has her stuff. She's quite well-known.

Dave said...

I had trouble getting "Weirdly" and after a dozen failed downloads, I worte an e-mail to WIld Child with my order number and all that and they e-mailed a copy to me. Marci Baun said that they were having some troubles at that end.
So perhaps Charles should e-mail like I did.

The Anti-Wife said...

Could you wait a few more novels to off me? I'm not quite ready to go yet?

Bernita said...

Dave, thank you so much - both for the information and for your persistence.

Bernita said...

I think you're safe, AW!

Church Lady said...

I am also having trouble downloading and sent an email to Marci. She was very nice, and said perhaps I need Adobe, which I thought I had but maybe I don't. I'll try to download again later.

I'm thinking an easier model would be to host it on their site, and give registrants a passcode to get in and read.

I'm still very much looking forward to reading it though, and also seeing the beginning of what I think will be a growing trend!

Bernita said...

Marci is very nice, Chris.
So sorry you had problems.
I e-mailed her and she said that their server decided to upgrade yesterday which caused a number of problems.

This sort of thing can certainly squish enthusiasm.

Gabriele C. said...

McMaster Bujold is on my autobuy list for a reason, or several. :)

sex scenes at starbucks said...

Love the sticker!

Bernita said...

I can easily see why, Gabriele.

Thank you, SS.

Marianne McA said...

Minor correction to your introduction - Miles is the Regent's son, rather than the Emperor's son.
I'm just a reader, but I think the other thing Bujold does beautifully in the series is grow the character up. Miles learns from his adventures, and matures. He's a different person at thirty than he is at twenty, though always recognisably himself.

Bernita said...

Sorry about that, Marianne. Miles is the Lord Regent's son and the Emperor's Lord Auditor.

writtenwyrdd said...

I love all the Vorkosigan books, but Kormar is actually not my favorite. I think I like the early Miles best, when he's juggling all his problems and managing them brilliantly. Hilarious and witty stuff.

Great bumper sticker, btw.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Written.
This is the first I've read. Think I must acquire the others.

kmfrontain said...

I have one of her novels only so far, but I think she's fantastic. :-)

Bernita said...

Definitely, Karen.