Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Lois McMaster Bujold

Lois McMaster Bujold

Edward James
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 216
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/j.ctt15nmjkm
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Lois McMaster Bujold
    Book Description:

    Readers have awarded Lois McMaster Bujold four Hugo Awards for Best Novel, a number matched only by Robert Heinlein. Her Vorkosigan series redefined space opera with its emotional depth and explorations of themes such as bias against the disabled, economic exploitation, and the role of women in society. Acclaimed science fiction scholar Edward James traces Bujold's career, showing how Bujold emerged from fanzine culture to win devoted male and female readers despite working in genres--military SF, space opera--perceived as solely by and for males. Devoted to old-school ideas such as faith in humanity and the desire to probe and do good in the universe, Bujold simultaneously subverted genre conventions and experimented with forms that led her in bold creative directions. As James shows, her iconic hero Miles Vorkosigan--unimposing, physically impaired, self-conscious to a fault--embodied Bujold's thematic concerns. The sheer humanity of her characters, meanwhile, gained her a legion of fans eager to provide her with feedback, expand her vision through fan fiction, and follow her into fantasy.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09737-9
    Subjects: History, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VIII)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. IX-X)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. XI-XII)
  4. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. XIII-XVI)
  5. CHAPTER 1 AN INTRODUCTION TO LOIS McMASTER BUJOLD
    (pp. 1-18)

    In 2012, when she turned sixty-three years old, Lois McMaster Bujold remarked that her life had been strangely balanced—she had been single for twenty-one years, married for twenty-one years, and divorced for twenty-one years. She noted, however, that “the thirds don’t all seem to have the same weight.”¹ In terms of her writing career, however, each third has equal, but different, importance. In the first third she built the foundations of a writing career; in the second third she established herself as a professional writer; and since then she has consolidated her position as one of the most popular...

  6. CHAPTER 2 THE SCIENCE FICTION
    (pp. 19-49)

    Lois McMaster Bujold has to date written fourteen science fiction books and a number of short stories: approximately six thousand pages of text. Almost all of her science fiction stories are set in the same future history, and most concern the Vorkosigan family, who live on the human-colonized planet Barrayar some two thousand years in our future. The Vorkosigan sequence, within which we might place also the hundreds of pieces of fan fiction using Bujold’s characters, is a kind of “future history,” as pioneered by Robert A. Heinlein from 1939. It might also be described as an “unfolding text” or...

  7. CHAPTER 3 FANTASY WORLDS
    (pp. 50-72)

    Although the series in which this book is published is about science fiction, it is impossible to understand Bujold without looking at her fantasy too: there is the standalone novelThe Spirit Ring, the Chalion trilogy, and the four books of the Sharing Knife sequence. Since the turn of the millennium Bujold has produced seven fantasy novels and just three science fiction novels. Bujold is not, of course, alone in being a science fiction writer who has turned to fantasy: some of the best known American fantasy writers in the field—Fritz Leiber, Andre Norton, Poul Anderson, Orson Scott Card,...

  8. CHAPTER 4 CULTURAL CRITIQUE
    (pp. 73-93)

    The clash of cultures, between societies and within societies, with both negative and positive results, is an underlying theme in much of what Bujold has written. This chapter will examine this theme primarily as it appears in Bujold’s science fiction; to some extent we have already, in chapter 3, treated the theme as found in the fantasy books. We shall see that one of the main purposes of the theme of culture clash in Bujold’s works is to cast light upon the societies of her readers: satire, in its original and broadest sense, is thus one of Bujold’s concerns. Satire...

  9. CHAPTER 5 CHARACTER
    (pp. 94-119)

    At the end ofDiplomatic ImmunityMiles visits Cetaganda for a second time. He has yet again been instrumental in defeating a plot against Barrayar’s old enemy, the Cetagandan Empire and is again rewarded by the Cetagandan emperor. This time he does not receive a medal that he would never dare wear on Barrayar but is honored by having his genetic material sampled for the Star Crèche, for possible insertion into the haut genome. As his old associate Pel, a haut lady, puts the sampling needle into his arm, Miles mutters: “It’s prob’ly nurture not nature, y’know” (DI 297).

    The...

  10. CHAPTER 6 DISABILITY AND GENETIC MODIFICATION
    (pp. 120-135)

    At the time of the London Paralympic Games in September 2012, the magazineSFXpublished a list of “10 Inspirational Disabled Characters from Sci-Fi and Fantasy.”¹ Given the bias of the magazine toward the visual media,SFXnaturally led with the autistic Gary fromAlphasand the blind Geordi LaForge fromStar Trek: The Next Generation. Indeed, there was only one inspirational disabled character from books: Miles Vorkosigan, coming in at number 7. The authors noted that they could not find an illustration of Miles from any book cover (they did not look hard enough), and so they had to...

  11. CHAPTER 7 WOMEN, UTERINE REPLICATORS, AND SEXUALITY
    (pp. 136-155)

    An earnest young male fan once came up to Bujold and said, “Ms. Bujold, you write like a man.” Bujold claims to be slow at thinking on her feet, and only afterward did she realize she should have said, “Oh, really? Which one?”¹ She adds, naturally enough, that she is still trying to work out whether or not the remark had been a compliment. Another of her hypothetical responses was: “I don’t write like a man, you just read like one.”² Although Bujold has claimed to be a “human-beingist” rather than a feminist, throughout her work she has been concerned...

  12. CHAPTER 8 WAR, LEADERSHIP, AND HONOR
    (pp. 156-170)

    Traditionally, since the days of E. E. “Doc” Smith, a central theme of space opera has been warfare. The earlier Vorkosigan novels do not buck the trend: the very first,Shards of Honor, begins in the middle of a war between Barrayar and Beta Colony. The Vorkosigans, from Piotr to Aral and to Miles himself, define themselves or create themselves through military service. It is one of the many frustrations of Miles’s early life that none of his military exploits with the Dendarii Free Mercenaries will ever be known to the public, since they are all ascribed to his alter...

  13. A LOIS McMASTER BUJOLD BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 171-174)
  14. STORIES IN THE VORKOSIGAN UNIVERSE
    (pp. 175-176)
  15. NOTES
    (pp. 177-182)
  16. CRITICAL BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 183-188)
  17. SELECTED INTERVIEWS WITH LOIS McMASTER BUJOLD
    (pp. 189-190)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 191-202)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 203-208)