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28 February 2011 @ 10:31 am
#5, #6, #7, #8  
Memory, Lois McMaster Bujold

I read this out of order, which annoyed me exceedingly, but fortunately for my sanity I was not spoiled as the actual plot or the identity of the bad guy.

I always find the stories set on Barrayar the most interesting, and this was no exception. It's also the last book before the diluting presence of St Ekaterin makes itself felt, so I enjoyed the nostalgia.

I'll put a few quotes and spoilers under this cut:

I'm not a connoisseur of crime fiction, so I can't tell you if the mystery was good or not. I was kept guessing till the end, but the law of conservation of characters made Haroche the most likely suspect all along. As usual, the character and emotion-driven heart of the story was what saved it from banality.

"You told Mark, but not me?"
"I could trust ... Mark to do what I asked of him. I could only trust you to do what you thought was right."

I love this snapshot of Mark the moral-less good guy.

"Not annoyed enough," snapped Lady Alys. "Haroche actually had the nerve to tell me - me! - that it was no sight for a lady. I asked him what he had been doing during the War of Vordarian's Pretendership."


"Do you consider yourself an innocent bystander?"
"God knows I try to be," sighed Ivan.

I seriously cannot wait for an Ivan book. ♥

"I am unprecedented."
The Count smiled. "That is not news, Miles."

I always find the family dynamics between Miles and his parents a little ... odd. He has never once seemed to need them, nor they to miss him. If you told me that Miles was estranged from his parents at a young age and only in late adulthood came to an uneasy truce with them, based solely on their written interactions, I'd believe you.

Miles, Mutants and Microbes, Lois McMaster Bujold

Falling Free really made me doubt Bujold's skill in telling a story, not necessarily from a non-Miles' POV, but in a world that has no Miles in it. The universe pre-Barrayar's re-entry seems curiously sketchy and flat. I kept reading Graf as mini-Miles except where he showed flashes of cowardice or hesitation. Crappy romance, too.

Diplomatic Immunity had a better plot, in that there were several leads that didn't seem to be remotely connected, until they were.

Not the greatest denouement in that a crazy servant tried to set up its own empire, what, but I did once again enjoy Cetaganda and how puzzling its homage to Miles is to the rest of the universe.

Miles, rolling his sleeve back down, muttered, "It's prob'ly nurture, not nature, y'know."


Cryoburn, Lois McMaster Bujold

A timeline skip this large gave me pause. (I really want to know what Ivan's doing now that he's nearly forty too.) It made me think about the possibility of this series ending, because Miles can't go on forever. After his adventures on Kibou-Daini it's unlikely he'd choose to be frozen, either.

Again, I can't tell if the intrigue in this book was over my head or just plain wobbly. The big secret was that people who were frozen at the point of death were actually dead? ... okay. It's doubtful anyone grieved for them after a hundred or so years. I would have liked to see more of the unfrozen, how they coped and more importantly why they were unfrozen - does this future contain a cure for Parkinson's and metastatic cancer, for example?

If only one didn't know that at the secret heart of all such organisations, corporations and governments alike, it still came down to a finite number of fallible people talking to each other...

Reminds me of that quote about how humanity will never reach its full potential, and the reason for that is: "meetings."

"Come to think of it," Ekaterin went on, "didn't you once have some trouble deciding what you wanted to be called? And at a much older age. History does not so much repeat as echo, I suppose.


OH THE END. COUNT VORKOSIGAN, SIR? I wept. In sorrow, and then in rage at the impact-diminishing epilogue. NOOOOO, DNW.

Arcadia, Tom Stoppard

I loved this extremely, and would do much for the chance to see it performed - the shifts of time with the same furniture, the same apple and tortoise. The tiny victories, like the sketch at the end, and the huge tragedies - Septimus and Thomasina realising too late what they had. I especially appreciated that Septimus had loads of meaningful affairs first and that his love for Thomasina was the last, not the first.

Hannah I don't teach.
Bernard No. All the more credit to you. To rehabilitate a forgotten writer, I suppose you could say that's the main reason for an English don.
Hannah Not to teach?


Thomasina Then why do your equations only describe the shapes of manufacture?
Septimus I do not know.
Thomasina Armed thus, God could only make a cabinet.

He's so funny, too. I want to BE Tom Stoppard.

Hannah Believe in the after, by all means, but not the life. Believe in God, the soul, the spirit, the infinite, believe in angels if you like, but not in the great celestial get-together for an exchange of views. If the answers are in the back of the book I can wait, but what a drag. Better to struggle on knowing that failure is final.

Personally if there is an after, I want to meet my lost dead. But it's still a great speech.
Current Music: phone ringing :(
Sarahtwopennystar on February 28th, 2011 06:06 pm (UTC)
I adored Arcadia. Normally I don't like reading plays (I'd rather just see them on stage!) but god Arcadia was worth the read. The Septimus/Thomasina thing was so beautifully crafted. I must go back and read it again, it's been years.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: iconomicons gum is not for birdsscoradh on March 1st, 2011 11:15 am (UTC)
I just want to marry Tom Stoppard's brain, basically.
inshadowsandlightshadow8light on February 28th, 2011 07:55 pm (UTC)
I think Falling Free was the third or fourth book Bujold ever sold. I quite liked it when I first read it, but agree that it does not hold up to much of her later work.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Medieval - seeing someonescoradh on March 1st, 2011 11:15 am (UTC)
If I'd never read anything else of her's I'd have liked it, but it recycles way too many of the Vorkosigan saga tropes.
Sereniaserenia on February 28th, 2011 10:46 pm (UTC)
I just read a book so awful, I consigned it to the recycling bin rather than giving it to Lifeline. I thought ridding the world of one copy of it was the greater good deed. A friend thought I'd like it because of the BDSM content, but the writing was awful, truly terrible, and the aforementioned content consisted of regular declarations that all women were inferior and all secretly wanted to be slaves.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Kitties: hammockscoradh on March 1st, 2011 11:16 am (UTC)
Sereniaserenia on March 2nd, 2011 01:51 am (UTC)
I must have missed the memo!
Blindmouse: Alice readingblindmouse on March 1st, 2011 10:14 am (UTC)
I'm not a connoisseur of crime fiction, so I can't tell you if the mystery was good or not.

I thought it was wretched, by the standards of the series. There was really only one suspect, and then he turned out to have done it, which ... what?

Through misunderstanding all the people who told me this book was brilliant, though, I expected a brilliantly twisty plot, which was clearly the wrong headspace to approach this one with, so that may have made me overly harsh.

I agree that Falling Free is terrible, too. If it wasn't for Ethan of Athos, I would have thought Bujold couldn't write a good book that didn't have Miles in it.

A timeline skip this large gave me pause. (I really want to know what Ivan's doing now that he's nearly forty too.)

Given how she's skipped about the timeline before, I assumed she'd be skipping back for the Ivan book? She's pretty careful not to give us any hints about what he's doing, while catching us up on Mark and Kareen et al.

The big secret was that people who were frozen at the point of death were actually dead? ... okay. It's doubtful anyone grieved for them after a hundred or so years.

Well, but the companies were still holding onto their votes, even though they were dead and didn't have any anymore. I assumed that was the biggest issue?

But I agree that there wasn't nearly enough explanation/exploration of what people expected to be waking up to, or when.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: jillicons: scheming facescoradh on March 1st, 2011 11:18 am (UTC)
I'm pretty simple, so I find all her plots reasonably twisty. I'm really like one of those people who says Smeyer can write brilliant romance. I just don't do crime otherwise, so I'm easy to please.

... I still have difficulty actually picturing quaddies.

HELL YEAH SKIP BACK! I did notice afterwards that he never even came up. *holding out for the big gay romance omg*

Yeah, but in stasis, they might as well be dead. And the people voting for them would live and die while they were in stasis, voting for things that were irrelevant to someone in stasis at the time ... basically, it could have done with more attention.