10 of 51 people found the following review helpful
, January 31, 2006
This review is from: A Civil Campaign (Mass Market Paperback)
I thought that Bujold's early books -- The Warrior's Apprentice and Shards of Honor -- were appealing, but like a lot of authors who start making the big $$$$ from writing ENDLESS series, her work has gone alarmingly downhill. I don't see how this can be called science fiction with a straight face.
Obviously the many positive reviews here (which mostly sound as if written by one person, using different psuedonyms, and undoubtedly in the employ of Ms. Bujold's publicist) demonstrate that loyal fans just want to see their favorite character(s) in similar situations over and over again, no matter how tired or lame. This phenomenon was richly explored in the many film and book adaptation of the Star Trek series -- a TV show that was actually good and ground-breaking...IN ITS DAY. However, when tired jokes and relationships are exploited to the maximum for the sole purpose of trotting out the aging tired actors for another "go-round", the whole thing became painfully embarassing. Such is the current state of the Miles Vorkosigan saga.
Just look at the cover -- OK, I know the author doesn't design the cover. But Ms. Bujold is a very popular, famous, award-winning author and she udoubtedly has a lot of clout with the publishing house. WHY WHY WHY does the book jacket depict a man of normal height and handsome looks, dancing with a beautiful girl? This is a classic cover ripped off of any standard Harlequin romance (dear readers, just step one or two aisles over). Who the hell is it supposed to depict? It can't be Miles, because he is a 4'9" hunchbacked dwarf with spindley limbs. It can't be his clone brother Mark, because he is a FAT dwarf. Who is the woman? Why are they wearing clothing from approx. 19th century Europe anyhow?
Am I the only one reading these books who realizes that the "so-called" futuristic sci fi setting is actually a loose adaptation of Tsarist Russia, right down the estates, the nobleman, emperor (tsar), etc.? Even many of the names are Russian -- Ekaterin, Ivan, Gregor -- or East European.
I think for all her Hugos and Nebula's, Lois Bujold is nothing more than a frustrated romance writer. Maybe she is actually off writing genuine historical romances under another name! I hope so for her sake, because she is clearly bored out of her mind with the usual elements of sci fi, the spaceships, time travel, strange new worlds and all that. This book is nearly devoid of any sci fi elements whatsoever.
I think Bujold gives it all up in the dedication, which coyly mentions by first name Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer etc. (Does anyone under 50 remember Georgette Heyer? In her day, she was a prolific and very popular writer of just this kind of whimsical period romance, where the struggle is whether a couple will get together or not -- sort of Austen-light.)
To get back to the book jacket: I think this actually reveals the fact that neither the author nor fans have really sat down and pictured what Miles would really look like in the arms of a normal woman. You don't see a whole lot of deformed-dwarf/regular-gal hook-ups in the real world, and this is why. There are...ummm. let's just be kind and say "physical impediments" to a satisfying relationship. (To confess, at 5'6", I once dated a perfectly normal man who was 5'2" and it felt like I was molesting a 12 year old boy.) Actually dealing with this real world problem would skim a lot of charm off the series, so the author dodges it for a visit to fantasy island.
I've wondered all along why Bujold can't imagine Miles, or Mark for that matter, hooking up with a similarly handicapped or physically challenged woman (and I don't mean an 8ft tall Wookie). I guess that's not "romantic" -- men can be shrimps (i.e., Napoleon) and rule the world...but God forbid that female protagonists be anything but pretty, pretty, pretty.
At any rate, "A Civil Campaign" is only science fiction, if your standard is the OLD Battlestar Galatica series or maybe Lost in Space...and it's only witty or charming, if your standard is "Gilmore Girls".
All I can say about Ms. Bujold anymore is "Cha CHING!" You go, babe! Living well is the best revenge! (But it doesn't make for good literature.)
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