by Lois McMaster Bujold Print book : CD for computer : Fiction
Miles Serves the Emperor Once Again   (2010-12-02)
Bujold, Lois McMaster ~ Cryoburn ~ Baen, 2010 ~ 20 chapters, epilogue [Aftermaths], series chronology ~339 pages ~ Audience: adults, teens ~ Rating: Very Good.
“Angels were falling all over the place. Miles blinked, trying to resolve the golden streaks sleeting through his vision into mere retinal flashes, but they stubbornly persisted as tiny, distinct figures, faces dismayed, mouths round.”
This is the 13th volume in the Vorkosigan Saga series. Chronologically, Falling Free was the first and Diplomatic Immunity was the 12th.
Miles Vorkosigan, now 39, is the leading Imperial Auditor. At the request of the Emperor, he has been sent to Kibou-daini to examine its corporate emphasis on immortality via cryonics. Using sophisticated technologies, people are preserved so that they may be awakened at some time in the future without having aged. Besides the adequacy of the technology, there are political and economic issues such as who controls their assets, including the right to vote, since they are still legally alive.
Kibou-daini seems to be, other than the focus on Cryonics, similar to other recent Saga volumes in terms of technology, culture, economics, and government.
The leading Cyrocorps hope to expand their operations to Barrayr and the Emperor has some questions. Miles and Roic, his body guard and armsman, are kidnapped by anti-Cyrocorps terrorists while attending a conference on Kibou-daini and that raises a variety of questions that will lead into an investigation of the Cyrocorps, their technology, and the legality of their operations.
The volume has strong detective story elements. While there is certainly some action, Cryoburn is not really an action story so much as it focuses on what very well could be an important issue for society in the future. In this case, something is very wrong and Miles must discover what it is and why. For example, why is there so much interest in freezing and so little interest in thawing?
1. Miles Vorkosigan is the primary character and acts in a familiar manner for those who have read other recent works in the Saga.
2. Roic is his body guard and armsman. He has considerable experience with Miles and knows what to do in difficult circumstances. He is also quite a contrast with Miles.
3. Jin Sato, 11 years old, found Miles when he was wandering the streets after the kidnapping attempt. His mother, now presumed dead, was a scientist and a member of the underground resistance. He will lead Miles to a variety of people who can provide insight into the truth behind the cyrocorps.
4. Consul Vorlynkin, is head of the Barrayaran diplomatic presence on the planet. Stiff and formal, he plays an important role.
5. Dr. Durona, an old friend of Miles, is a cryonics scientist from Escobar. Miles invited him to attend the conference, asking for his scientific and political analysis. However, he will need to do much more than that.
This is a normal trade “cloth” edition. Print and font are average. See through and paper are a bit above average. Binding is good. The story is of average length and pages turn quickly
Bujold is one of the great names in SF and fantasy writing. She is so talented and popular that this is an automatic selection for virtually all SF collections. Notable too since the “Aftermath” clearly establishes a major event in the series and one that marks an end and a beginning. The discussion, well integrated into the plot, of immortality and cryogenics, is very well done. Familiar and new characters are nicely developed with Jin especially well-done. Miles has many fans and they will certainly be intrigued and pleased by his latest adventures.
Although there are bleak moments at the beginning and finally at the end, there are positive moments throughout. Since the technical terms and discussions of the freezing and thawing are clearly presented, there is little reading difficulty with technical or scientific terms. Violence is limited. Descriptive writing is clear and easily understood. I thought that the immortality issues were thought-provoking and could lead to quite a good book discussion.
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