October 29, 2010

Reading Cryoburn, the new Vorkosigan book

Posted in Books and movies at 5:39 pm by changisme

I finished the new Vorkosigan book Cryoburn, and just want to note down what I feel about it at this point, because my opinion changes as time goes on.

The plot: good twists and turns for its length, a little bit rushed, but satisfying in general. Things never really happen the way you expect them to, except for the very end, which is a little rushed.

The characters: familiar characters are not dynamic, they hardly underwent any changes or gave any new revelations. Is this because Miles is no longer looking for dates? Bujold should know better than assuming a 30+ year-old family man is completely stable. Is this intentional? it’s true that the narratives of this novel is especially remote from Miles himself. Even though all books in the series had been in third person, but the voice used to be closer to Miles. Whereas this one, the reference to Miles had been mostly in “m’lord”, supposedly from Roic’s stand point. Or sometimes from the new kid Jin’s point of view. Is this an intentional distance introduced by Bujold because she feels Miles is fading away from her life? I don’t know… The other familiar characters were not well advanced either, like Mark, Kareen, Roic (maybe a little bit), Raven, all had their personalities, but rather one sided. There were tons of new characters, mostly because the setting is new, Kibou-daini, not any of the familiar “home”-world from the previous books. These characters are just entering the scene, so there’s not development to be said. I like the character development of some of her shorter works, where fewer characters are crammed in.

Social commentary: The novel acknowledges the existence of social problems such as health-care, polarization, and the incompetence of some NGO’s. However, the work is too short to do these matters justice. I don’t know whether to say it’s a failure, because it probably serves well for the setting of the story, but it’s definitely a bit simplified. It’s not as interesting as some of the political struggles took place in Barrayar.

Culture setting: The planet this story takes place is in a east-asian-predominantly-Japanese environment. It’s reflected in people’s names and food. There are no other cultural references. It might be right because it’s afterall a fusion and futuristic setting. I don’t really know how I feel about it other than feeling it’s a bit … extra but still not too bad or too over the top.

The language:  very humourous just as her previous works. Very nice conversations, a little too obvious when it’s trying to explain something to the reader things about power struggles or conspiracies. There might be ways to make it a little more subtle, but I’m no writer, so I might just be overly judgmental. There are also times when the book is trying to get new readers caught up on the previous going-ons of the Vorkosigan world, but I think it’s there, but only enough to remind people who already knew about it. That might be Bujold’s intention in the first place.

Overall, I’m not too happy with the character’s growth, or lack of it, but I still laugh out loud when I read her writing.

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