10 of 46 people found the following review helpful
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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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 12, 2007 9:18:20 PM PST
Olga Novozhilova says:
Really. I think you missed something here. First, very low snide dig about one person praising this book under pseudonyms. Hm, if a lot of people like this book for similar reason, and you don't, there is still no need to belittle us. Second. Cover: the only actual marriage described in the book is Gregor's and Laisa's. My bet is that it's them on the cover, and even though Laisa's clothing is not exactly accurate to what it's described in the book, Gregor's "gaudy parade red-and-blue's" are to the tee, in my humble opinion. Third, how much of the series did you read or not, as the case might be, to miss the fact that Barrayar was colonized by speakers of Russian, English, French, and Greek? It's only mentioned, I dunno, dozens of times. Not only the names of some characters (including Vor Kosigan), but some terms (Baba - wise old woman), or legends (Baba Yaga in flying mortar and the mutie lord who kept his heart locked in a chest) which pop up quite regularly are Russian in origin, and for a good reason.
Well, to sum up: sounds like you feel like you wasted your money buying this book and your time reading it, and thus accuse the writer of cashing in and fans of lack of taste. Whatever floats your boat, dude. If you want to get rid of your copy, I'd buy it any time, mine is all in tatters from re-reading it so many times. And yeah, it's my favourite in the series, because I think it's the cleverest and funny as all that.
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 12, 2007 11:20:19 PM PST
A Cabbit - says:
Not really in response Ms. Novozhilova's post but to the original review - Just because you have this issue about men shorter than you doesn't mean that everyone does. Without getting graphic, let me just say that when both parties are horizontal the height difference is of very little importance, and yes I speak from experience. While I found your review extremely amusing, I can't say that going on and on about how tall girl/short men relationships don't work doesn't really tell me much about whether or not I will like the book.
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 15, 2008 7:45:34 AM PST
Jas B says:
A Cabbit, I think the reviewer doesn't say much about the story/writing because that's would require reading it first rather than just looking at the cover. And, Olga, I don't think the reviewer "wasted" any money buying the book. Obviously, after a detailed critique of the cover, actually buying the book would have been unthinkable.
I'm a guy and really 'into' military SF (think David Weber) and have only recently discovered Bujold. I've read 5 of her books now and am amazed at here skill in character development, world-building, humor (both overt and subtle), and compassion. Most importantly, she entertains me in ways that 99.9% of authors cannot.
Posted on Aug 20, 2008 11:35:17 PM PDT
to Laurel 962: I have to take offense---greatly---at the snide reference to Georgette Heyer and her Regency novels. Next to the great Jane Austen, she alone has best created the Regency world, a world as different from the following Victorian era (puritanical and hypocritical) and the preceding: "apres lui, les deluge" attitude of the pre-Revolutionary French...in which all of the upper classes lived for only fashion, love affairs, and everything new each day. The Regency time period, approximately 1800-1822, was a generation that sported great wealth for the upper classes, yet at the same time, saw England involved in an on-going twenty-two year long war with Napoleon, whose shadow hung over England and all of the Europen continent. It affected the lives of the youth of the time who truly "lived for today." They followed various types of fashion, many varied styles, led by different groups; duelling, to the death, still occured; gambling on cards, horse racing, almost on anything ruined many a family of long lineage. Younger sons, with no prospects in England were sent off to the colony of India to make their fortune, though most did not, of course. Others joined the army or navy and died in that never-ending war. The Patrick O'Brian series of books is a wonderful window into the era from a totally different point of view. Heyer was a student of the era she wrote about, she studied it, made every attempt to correctly describe the patterns of speech of each classes; the slang; the clothes; the style of servents of each level of the many varied classes in a rigidly class conscious nation. Her research made her THE expert on the era. She was the first to began the idea of the writing novels about the period, and others followed, openly stealing what she had spent hours researching in books and letters of the times. To damn her entire genre, and to say-- with a sort of generational snobbism -- she's irrelevant to anyone under 50, when her books have never been out of print since the first were written in the 1920's, seems a bit harsh to me, if not so laughable. They may not be your idea of what you yourself like to read---in fact have you read ANY?---but you don't need to trample over the body of work that still stands and gives enjoyment to many others.
Posted on Aug 19, 2009 11:13:44 AM PDT
B. Love says:
With regards to Miles/Mark not being involved with a handicapped or physically challenged woman-- it has always seemed to me that the circumstances that led Miles and Mark, "handicapped" as they were, to survive on Barrayar, were unusual. Miles was specifically looking for a woman he could marry on Barrayar, and unfortunately, given the culture, I think most handicapped or physically challenged women would not have survived to adulthood.
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