Review: Cryoburn

Lois McMaster Bujold
Baen Books, November 2010
New hardcover

“Within the last few months,” [Miles went on,] “as the flagship facility we saw in Wing’s vid was nearing completion, WhiteChrys began collecting contracts on future customers. Not unnaturally, they targeted Solstice upper-class elderly women’s clubs. At the same time, another sales team made some limited strategic stock offerings to certain wealthy and influential Komarrans, to give the local powers-that-be a stake in the future success of their operations. I expect the two sales teams didn’t compare hit lists, nor realize that some wealthy old ladies are retired Komarran traders who can read a balance sheet to a gnat’s eyebrow.

“And one of those little old ladies looked at the two proposals before her and said, ‘This smells, but I don’t see how,’ so she took it to her beloved great-niece, who said, ‘You’re right, Auntie, this smells, but I don’t see how,’ who took the problem in turn to her devoted husband, better known as Emperor Gregor Vorbarra. Who handed it to his loyal Imperial Auditor, saying, and I quote here, ‘Here, Miles, you’re better at diving into the privy and coming up with the gold ring than anyone I know. Have a go.’ And I said, ‘Thank you, Sire,’ and took ship for Kibou-daini.”

Cryoburn, the latest installment in Lois McMaster Bujold’s brilliant Vorkosigan saga, has Barrayaran Imperial Auditor Miles Vorkosigan investigating possible shady dealings in the cryonics industry on Kibou-daini, a world heretofore unexplored in the series. The story, which opens with a drugged and hallucinating Miles wandering through a warren of underground cryocombs – a storage facility holding thousands of cryonically frozen bodies – after escaping a botched kidnapping attempt, unfolds through the eyes of three narrators: Miles, his bodyguard Roic, and Jin Sato, a young Kibou boy with a personal stake in cryonics.

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Review: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

This review was originally posted on Buried Under Books.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
N.K. Jemisin
Orbit, February 2010
ARC from Creatures ‘n Crooks.

I knew that once my people had been heretics. That was why the Amn called races like mine darkling: we had accepted the Bright only to save ourselves when the Arameri threatened us with annihilation. But what Nahadoth implied–that some of my people had known the real reason for the Gods’ War all along and had hidden it from me–no. That I could not, did not want to, believe.

There had always been whispers about me. Doubts. My Amn hair, my Amn eyes. My Amn mother, who might have inculcated me with her Arameri ways. I had fought so hard to win my people’s respect. I thought I had succeeded.

When Yeine Darr is summoned to her ailing maternal grandfather’s royal court, she is shocked to hear herself named one of three potential heirs to the Arameri throne. She is a half-caste, the product of her mother’s rebellious marriage to a tribesman from the barbarian north, her dark skin and hair clearly marking her as an outsider in the capital city of Sky. Court intrigue abounds, however, and Yeine quickly learns nothing in Sky is what it seems – not even Yeine herself. With only days left until the king announces his final choice as heir, Yeine finds herself at the center of a power struggle between her world’s gods that stretches millennia into the past, far beyond the range of mortal reckoning. As she marshalls all of her resources to keep up with the ever-changing scenario, Yeine is forced to decide whether she can make a very personal sacrifice that could alter all life on her world forever.

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