Bujold, Lois McMaster: (115) Cryoburn; Ten-Year Anniversary

For quite some time, I thought I might not read Cryoburn, the latest Vorkosigan book by Lois McMaster Bujold, at all.

I managed to spoil myself for it, you see, and not only did I think it might be a difficult read for purely personal reasons, but it sounded very much like not the book I wanted. Which is a problem I’ve been having with the latest books in the Vorkosigan series—as I previously said, I liked A Civil Campaign less after time went by, because it moved too quickly and was too easy; and similarly, Diplomatic Immunity has become less satisfying to me over time, because I really want it to have been a dual-POV book, Miles and Ekaterin. So since I’ve been feeling over the prior two books that Ekaterin has been shortchanged, the news that Cryoburn took place off Barrayar and that Ekaterin was Lady Not Appearing did not thrill me—even before getting into spoiler issues.

But then I was browsing Lightreads’ archives for some reason and came across her assessment of Cryoburn, which called it a romp, and I thought maybe I was in the mood for it after all, now that I’d had time to adjust to the idea that it wasn’t the book I was hoping for.

Unfortunately I both agree with Lightreads and don’t. I agree that “it’s a hundred thousand words of Miles repeatedly happening to people,” but as far as I’m concerned, that’s a bad thing. (Though we don’t agree on this book, I quite recommend Lightreads for book blogging generally.) There’s no jeopardy for Miles, nothing at stake for him, and while I see all the thematic things it’s doing, I don’t want those things as indirect themes while Miles is happening to other people, I want them happening to him. “Remote” is not a quality I prize in a Vorkosigan book.

I also have some issues with the plot; the setup of the planet, where people are cryogenically frozen and leave their voting proxies with the corporations who froze them, seems so obviously ripe for corruption that it’s hard to believe that people didn’t foresee it. And the explanation for the bad guys’ big plan seems to be missing a step somewhere. (Morning ETA: this is what I get for writing quick after a long day. I am also dubious about the planet’s use of Japanese honorifics and other cultural trappings, especially so far in the future and in a place that never had a Time of Isolation and that has such far-reaching and negative corporate involvement.)

So, while I don’t quite wish I hadn’t read it, it definitely lived down to my expectation that it was not the book I wanted.

On another note: Today is the ten-year anniversary of this booklog, which is kind of amazing to me. (Ideally you should here imagine Jeremy Piven’s character in Grosse Pointe Blank saying, “Ten years!”) When I started this, I was in law school, unmarried, and childless; now I’m married, working as a lawyer, half-orphaned, and have one kid and another on the way. I also started a journal (first at LiveJournal and now at Dreamwidth), which means the occasional personal tidbits that appeared here early are elsewhere; and over at Tor.com, I spent a ridiculously long time re-reading The Lord of the Rings one chapter at a time.

I hadn’t planned to do anything particular for the anniversary, but then I realized it was today and that the next post in the mental queue was already about my changing assessments of books, so I couldn’t resist. (I sometimes think about going back and putting “I no longer agree with this” comments on older books, but that seems like a big enough project that I’ve never gotten around to it.) I’m not sure I’m capable of summing up, or even recognizing, all the ways my reading has changed over the last ten years, though I have tried to be more consciously aware of problematic stereotypes and tropes, especially with regard to race and disability.

In any event, even after ten years I still really enjoy writing this and have no intention of stopping, despite the occasional moribund period, of which the most recent was by far the longest. (I did briefly consider moving it to Dreamwidth, for the community norms of increased commenting, but it would be very hard to duplicate all the functionality there, and the back-referencing would be a nightmare. Anyway, I know way more people lurk, and that’s fine, really, I just had to remind myself of that!) I am always writing draft posts in my head after I finish a book, and it’s a genuine relief to get them out on the booklog, both for my own reference and for whatever use they are to others.

In conclusion: Ten years!


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  1. I lurk, though I do not usually comment. i enjoy your reviews!

  2. Thank you, but I should probably have not said that because I didn’t mean to make lurkers feel bad! There are many places where I lurk, despite being a talkative type.

  3. Ten years! *toasts you*
    Alas for Cryoburn re: expectations.

  4. Congratulations on the ten years and the new one on the way from a lurker. I was meh about Cryoburn as well. I couldn’t vote for it in the Locus poll. I think Bujold has simply lost interest in Miles. I’d love to see another book on Cordelia though and I have some interest in the upcoming Ivan-centric book. Glad to see you reviewing again-the rereads of Lotr were most enjoyable.

  5. Cassandra, thanks very much.
    I admit I did recall that _Cryoburn_ was announced very soon after Jim Baen’s death and that I’d wondered back then whether the sale was motivated more by wanting to help Baen out than a burning desire to tell this particular story (I also seem to recall a suggestion that _DI_ was some kind of acknowledgment/thank-you to Baen when the Chalion fantasies were put up for auction). I’m not generally a big fan of arguments regarding authorial intent, but I agree that whatever motivation Bujold had, those two books just did not feel very passionate.

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