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Lois McMaster Bujold was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1949. She has two brothers, eight years and six years older than she is. She has been a voracious reader all her life, beginning with stories about horses (she had her own pony as a child), and discovering adult science fiction at the age of nine. She tried several majors in college, including English, which she drifted away from because she preferred creative writing to literary criticism, and biology - while studying biology she went on a six-week field trip of East Africa which later supplied some of the landscape and wildlife for her first novel, Shards of Honor.

After leaving college she had a job as a pharmacy technician, and then left to start her family. She was inspired to start writing professionally when she heard that her best friend, Lillian Stewart Carl, had sold some stories. She was unemployed with two small children at the time, so at first she had to write while the children were taking naps, or go to the library to work.

Most of her books belong to the Vorkosigan Series and are listed below. She has also written Dreamweaver's Dilemma, a collection of short stories and essays, and The Spirit Ring, an Italianate fantasy. Her next book, The Curse of Chalion, is an unrelated fantasy and is scheduled to come out in July 2001.

What I like best about her Vorkosigan series is that Miles Vorkosigan changes with time and goes through a radical career change in "Memory". People who don't like the violence and the military action in her earlier books might like her new books "Komarr" and "A Civil Campaign" which are more focussed on character-centred drama and romance.

I came to Bujold through a friend who was into other Military Science Fiction writers, such as David Drake, Harry Turtledove, Jerry Pournell, and David Weber.

I think that the heart of the books may be in the words of Aral Vorkosigan, "A weapon is anything that makes your enemy change his mind".

Miles Naismith Vorkosigan is certainly a mental giant, using his brains to come up with ways to defeat his enemies. Psychological warfare, on and off the battlefield, seems to be the expertise of these novels... but Bujold isn't afraid to delve into the more hardcore realms of fighting within her universe, with victims of plasma weapons and neural attacks. She doesn't pull any punches, and thus describes a very real and visceral world for her readers to explore.

Following is a chronology of the Vorkosigan novels, in terms of place and time within the universe. There are some spoilers in the following synopses... if you hate anything that spoils the tension of books you read (like most jacket blurbs), then please ignore this writeup.
  • Falling Free - Engineer Leo Graf is hired as in instructor for GalacTech. He is startled by the revelation that he will be teaching members of a new genetically-created species, the Quaddies, a race designed for work and life in zero gravity. Things go sour when GalacTech decides to scrap the Quaddie project - and the Quaddies - as uneconomical. (Takes place approximately 200 years before Shards of Honor)
  • Shards of Honor - Commander Cordelia Naismith of the Betan Expeditionary Force is on a surveying mission of a newly-discovered potentially-inhabitable planet when her team is ambushed by a Barrayaran strike force. Taken captive, she decides to cooperate with her captor, Captain Aral Vorkosigan, the "Butcher of Komarr," who was betrayed and left for dead by his own men, in exchange for being able to oversee the survival of a wounded comrade. After many complications and events, Cordelia becomes a fugitive from her own planet, Beta, and goes to Barrayar to marry Aral.
  • Barrayar - Aral Vorkosigan is appointed Regent of Barrayar by the dying Emperor. A coup is attempted, and Cordelia's unborn child, Miles, becomes disfigured when an assassination attempt using a toxic gas grenade narrowly fails.
  • The Warrior's Apprentice - Miles, now 17, fails the physical examination necessary to get into the Military Academy. During a trip to Beta Colony, he sticks his nose where it doesn't belong, and ends up in the middle of a middle of a messy planetary siege. Necessity forces him to steal control of the besieging mercenary force, and turns them into the Dendarii Free Mercenaries. Emperor Gregor pulls strings to get Miles into the Military Academy.
  • The Vor Game - Miles' first military assignment nearly gets him killed, and ends with him under arrest. He ends up rejoining the Dendarii by necessity, in order to save Emperor Gregor's life, and in return, Gregor adopts the Dendarii as a covert arm of Barrayaran Imperial Security.
  • Cetaganda - Miles and his cousin Ivan Vorpatril attend a Cetagandan state funeral and are caught up in Cetagandan internal politics.1
  • Ethan of Athos - Dr. Ethan Urquhart, one of the chief Reproductive Technicians for the planet of Athos, an all-male planet, is sent out to Kline Station to pick up a replacement shipment of ovarian cultures, as the shipment they were supposed to receive was waylaid and replaced with garbage. He ends up in the middle of a complex situation that involves Elli Quinn from the Dendarii Mercenaries and a mysterious young man named Terrence Cee.
  • Brothers in Arms - Miles returns from a successful but painfully expensive mission with the Dendarii to discover that the funds he is relying on are missing. He ends up stuck at the Barrayaran Embassy on Earth, required to do minor routine tasks, while his fleet starts to fall apart due to lack of funds. He is kidnapped by Komarran2 patriots who want to replace him with a clone-double, and has to do some very fast work to save his own life. The clone gets a name of his own - Mark Pierre Vorkosigan.
  • The Borders of Infinity - Miles is laid up in convalescence while his fragile bones are finally replaced with synthetics. Simon Illyan, head of Barrayaran Imperial Security, grills him for details about previously unmentioned missions, in order to save Aral Vorkosigan from a plot laid by political enemies. (This book is a compilation of short stories, relating some of Miles' earlier adventures that were not covered in other books. It is probably best read before Brothers in Arms.)
  • Mirror Dance - Mark impersonates Miles in order to "borrow" a part of the Dendarii fleet, and gets himself up to his neck in problems trying to free clones from Jackson's Hole. Miles attempts to rescue him, and gets killed by a sniper. Mark is forced to come to terms with himself and his relation to the Vorkosigan family. Miles is revived with amnesia, and eventually regains most of his memories.
  • Memory - Miles suffers a seizure as a result of his revival, and injures a Barrayaran courier they were sent to rescue. He attempts to lie about it in his reports, and is cashiered from Imperial Security. Simon Illyan starts suffering a mental breakdown, and Emperor Gregor appoints Miles as an Imperial Auditor in order to find out what's going on.
  • Komarr - An apparent accident severely damages a satellite vital to the terraforming of Komarr, and Miles and another Imperial Auditor are dispatched to Komarr to investigate. Miles meets Ekaterin Vorsoisson, niece of the other Auditor and the wife of Dr. Vorsoisson, an important man in the terraforming project. Miles stumbles into a major conspiracy, and Dr. Vorsoisson is killed. Ekaterin gets kidnapped, and manages to thwart the conspiracy almost single-handed.
  • A Civil Campaign - Preparations are made for Emperor Gregor's wedding, and Miles attempts to woo Ekaterin, with disastrous consequences. A number of minor emergencies combine to form one major problem for Miles.
  • Diplomatic Immunity - I am told by Dhericean that a new book by this title was released recently (second quarter, 2002). I have yet to see it, but I will certainly include a summary for it when I do. =^_^=
The whole series is extremely well-done; The books are intensely character-driven, and events often have profound, lasting effects. The characters are not at all static, and do grow and change as the series progresses. I was amazed when Miles was killed in Mirror Dance... even with cryo-revival, it was an astounding thing for an author to do with the main character of a series, and this event has severe, lasting effects. I whole-heartedly recommend this series to anyone who'll get close enough for me to shove a copy in their hands. The series falls under the Science Fiction sub-genre of Space Opera, but has far more depth than most other examples of the genre.

1. This synopsis was taken verbatim from the timeline given in the back of one of the books. I have only read this book once, and don't remember it very well (I'm not even sure I ever finished the book). I'll fix this with a more complete synopsis once I get my hands on another copy.
2. Komarr is a planet that was annexed by force by Barrayar, after they allowed a Cetagandan fleet to pass through in an attempt to conquer Barrayar. Komarr sits in a wormhole junction that happens to be the only way to get to Barrayar from the rest of the galaxy. This event takes place an unstated number of years (fewer than ten is my assumption, from dialogue in the books) before Shards of Honor.

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