Thursday, June 28, 2012

e-Book Advantage

I've just discovered a new advantage to e-readers that I never expected.

A favorite author, Lois McMaster Bujold, has a new book coming out, Captain Vorpatril's Alliance.  In November.

Long wait!  Like any devoted fan, I've been ticking off days in my calendar until I could get my hands on a copy.  But now the author and publisher, Baen Books, have had a brain wave: let eager readers buy the electronic Advanced Readers Copy...


Having devoured the book at (almost) one sitting yesterday, I can safely say this is a very fan-satisfying novel. It wraps up all kinds of loose ends for the title character, long a favorite, and in way I at least never expected.

For new readers, I would probably not recommend starting Bujold's award-winning science fiction series about the planet Barrayar and the Vorkosigan family with this book; better to start with Cordelia's Honor (or Shards of Honor), then work through the books in internal chronological order.  This new novel fits in the series time-frame just after Diplomatic Immunity.  But read in publication order, Captain Vorpatril's Alliance makes a very good capstone to the series so far.

One of the things I like about Bujold's Barrayar series is that each book has a distinct character - space opera, adventure, romance, mystery, or in this case, a sort of heist caper with (this is Ivan!) romantic and humorous overtones.

All Bujold's novels develop the classic S-F "what-if?" where some scientific and/or social development is expanded to its logical conclusions. (Speculation that is exactly what I love about S-F.)  Bujold's books all contain humor, often of a comedy-of-manners style, and can have elements of romance.  But an amusing tone and the biological sciences she speculates upon - rather than rocketry or ray guns - can fool a reader into overlooking how "hard" her science is and how ruthlessly she spins out its social effects.  Her books discuss exactly the scientific, medical, ethical, social, and legal issues our present day society grapples with: life extension, genetic manipulation, cloning.

But while Bujold's fictional science and time-frame are futuristic, she keeps her human characters very... human.  Even her evolving-super-race, the Centagandan Hauts, have recognizably human motives like revenge and spite (as this novel illustrates).  

Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, Lois McMaster Bujold, Baen Books

I don't want to spoil Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, so I'll just say that Bujold's new book lives up to her usual high standards of writing and invention with some particularly comic moments.  As a long-time series fan, I enjoyed the tidbits about other characters sidelined in this plot and was very satisfied with this resolution to the Idiot-Ivan dilemma - great fun to read a book with his viewpoint! I really enjoyed this book's ride.  

Thank you Ms. Bujold.  I'll start re-reading immediately.

You!  Go buy a copy of either Captain Vorpatril's Alliance HERE or, if you're a newbie, buy or check out Cordelia's Honor and get to reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment