Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Weekend in Barrayar.....

Taking a break from reading new books, and enjoying a vacation in Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan saga. Can't say how many times I've read these books but they are excellent and I can't recommend them enough.

Here's all you need to know about Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan saga (and more). The bottom line is - find one of the books and read it. It probably doesn't matter if you start at the beginning (I think the first I read was "Brothers in Arms" - definitely not the first, second or third book in the series. She plays fair and gives enough backstory wherever you are. Of course I've reread it and others more than once.....) <--article has lists all the books.

The Vorkosigan Saga is a series of science fiction novels and short stories by American author Lois McMaster Bujold. Most of them concern Miles Vorkosigan, a physically disabled aristocrat from the planet Barrayar whose life (from before birth), military career, and post-military career is a challenge to his native planet's prejudices against "mutants." The novels The Vor Game, Barrayar and Mirror Dance each won the Hugo Award for Best Novel, while Falling Free, Memory, and A Civil Campaign were nominated but did not win.

One of the best descriptions of these books comes from Larry Wall, who you've probably never heard of - he created the computer language Perl, which has been the backbone of the web. He's a very smart guy - trained to be a missionary linguist, but couldn't go into the field because of medical issues and wound up working for NASA and ended up creating one of the most used modern computer languages. He gives interesting talks every year - this comes from "Perl, the first postmodern computer language":

Note how we still periodically hear the phrase ``serious literature''. This is literature that is supposedly about Real Life. Let me tell you something. The most serious literature I've ever read is by Lois McMaster Bujold. Any of you read her? It's also the funniest literature I've ever read. It's also space opera. ``Genre fiction,'' sneers the Modernist. Meaning it follows certain conventions. So what? Nobody in the world can mix gravity and levity the way Bujold does in her Vorkosigan books. It's oh so definitely about real life. So what if it follows space opera conventions. Sonnets follow certain conventions too, but I don't see them getting sneered at much these days. Certainly they were always called ``serious''. How long till Bujold becomes required reading in high school? Far too long, in my opinion. Horrors. We wouldn't want our students actually enjoying what they read. It's not--it's not Real Life. As if the Lord of the Flies is real life. Feh.