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The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold:

 26 Tam H 70, Thu, 16th Aug '12 12:15:43 PM from 合計虐殺 Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
War ALWAYS changes. Man does not.
[up]Oh you are right! Good catch. Ivan is the idiot - it is probable because I associate psychotic emperors with Ivan, after Ivan Grozny. I gave up on Tom Clancy years ago when he killed Robbie Jackson off-stage just to set up Ed Kealty as the Pres that hero!Jack can rebel against. Again.

I am not sure if Tom Clancy actually writes his own books nowadays.
 27 Morven, Thu, 16th Aug '12 2:53:55 PM from Seattle, WA, USA
Nemesis
The reason Bujold pulls it off while Weber doesn't for Honor Harrington is that Bujold is willing to let her characters change. Harrington isn't allowed to change, isn't really allowed to grow up all that much except for greater confidence.

If Bujold were Weber, Miles would still be commanding the Dendarii Mercenaries.

(That's long enough ago now in the series to be OK without spoiler warnings, right?)

I would be happy if she wrote no more. I will be ecstatic if she does.

A brighter future for a darker age.
 28 Tam H 70, Fri, 17th Aug '12 2:04:35 PM from 合計虐殺 Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
War ALWAYS changes. Man does not.
I have never read any Honor Harrington books.

I read Alexander Kent, Dudley Pope and C.S. Forester instead. Since Honor Harrington is supposed to be Hornblower in space, what's the point? And for me, Kent's books, particularly the ones about Richard Bolitho, are THE definitive wooden ships and iron men books since ever. Never televised or made into films, which is a bit of a joke to be honest.

Which all in all makes it somewhat surprising that I love the Vorkosigan books, since they seem to have a lot of stuff in common from with what I have heard about the Harrington ones. What separates them?
 29 Nohbody, Fri, 17th Aug '12 3:53:33 PM from Somewhere in Dixie Relationship Status: Mu
Just zis guy
Off the top of my head, HH focuses a lot more on technology, particularly in the military realm. Not that the Vorkosigan books are tech-free, mind you, but their focus is much more sociopolitical, even compared to later HH books where governments and their functioning (or lack thereof) get more attention.

In short, both are Space Opera, but HH is more "space", and Vorkosigan is more "opera".
 30 Deboss, Fri, 17th Aug '12 4:25:06 PM from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
Since Honor Harrington is supposed to be Hornblower in space, what's the point?

Space ships are cooler than wooden ships. I also have an allergic reaction anytime someone recommends me something because "it's a classic".
 31 Tam H 70, Fri, 17th Aug '12 4:40:13 PM from 合計虐殺 Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
War ALWAYS changes. Man does not.
As I said, I prefer Kent's books. The guy is still alive, which sort of solves that whole "classic" problem. Seeing as how to be a "classic" book, the writer of it has to have been underground at least forty or so years.
 32 Deboss, Fri, 17th Aug '12 5:28:53 PM from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
Huh, I didn't know that. Waddya know. Still, I read Harrington first, I'll probably stick with those.
 33 swallowfeather, Fri, 17th Aug '12 6:54:16 PM from the state of Denial
Destroyer of Weeds
Sweet, my first day on the forums and there's a current Bujold discussion. Dang right she deserves a thread!

Favorite book of the series, anyone? And why? I'd love to compare notes on that.
"God created man because God likes stories." - Elie Wiesel
 34 Knightof Lsama, Sat, 18th Aug '12 1:03:37 AM from The Sea of Chaos
[up] I refuse to answer that on the grounds that I've just read Baen's sample chapters of Captain Vorpartil's Alliance (found here if you're interested. Scroll down to November's releases since the direct link borks the formatting) and it looks good enough that there's a good chance that there's a good chance of coming in high on the list, maybe even hitting top spot.

As for what's already been published (and if anyone has read the eARC, keep it to yourself) I'd have to say A Civil Campaign, Memory and Cetandaga would be my three favourites. In that order.

Though in retrospect there's one thing that I would have like to see in the earlier books. A novel length pure Dendarii Free Mercenaries story. Mirror Dance and Brother in Arms had Mark's presence dominating the novel (and bringing the subsequent Barayaran political issues into the mix). It would have been interesting to see one of Miles's Dendarii Missions front and centre as the main plot for at least one book.

edited 18th Aug '12 1:08:49 AM by KnightofLsama

Welcome to the Sea of Chaos
 35 Nohbody, Sat, 18th Aug '12 5:44:20 AM from Somewhere in Dixie Relationship Status: Mu
Just zis guy
Hmm. Don't know if I can pin "favorite" on one particular book, off the top of my head. Usually I don't start thinking about the favorite part of a series until I've read it twice. Young Miles is the only one I've read previously, when I thought to give Bujold a try. Didn't really stick with me, so I didn't continue with it until the Cryoburn CD let me do it all at once (well, minus Memory, which I had to purchase separately) without spending a lot of money to get it all (even $6 per e-book starts to add up).

^ I definitely agree that a novel focusing on the DFM would be A Good Thing(tm). Surely not all of their missions were near-disasters, and they wouldn't have stayed on Barrayar's payroll if they were crap, Vorkosigan connection or not.
 36 Tam H 70, Sat, 18th Aug '12 9:06:58 AM from 合計虐殺 Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
War ALWAYS changes. Man does not.
I don't think putting the Dendarii Free Mercenaries front and center for a whole book was ever going to be part of Mrs Bujold's gameplan, much as I would, like you two previous posters, enjoy it. They were a vehicle to get Miles Naismith Vorkosigan from being a stunted cripple(in his society's eyes) to a confident mature man with a place in the world. Even though most of his contemporaries would not have a clue that it was his activities in the Dendarii that got him there.

I am not sure if Mrs Bujold was always going to make Miles a Lord Auditor and Emperor's Voice from the start of the series or not, but it wouldn't surprise me. If so, Miles was never going to stay as Admiral Naismith. Much as that would have been enjoyable.

Favourite book? Hmm. The Warrior's Apprentice. If that had been crap in my eyes I would never have read the rest in the series at least twice. Memory is good as well. Of the non-Miles focused books, Ethan of Athos is the best in my view. It is certainly the most thought provoking of them, for many different reasons.

edited 18th Aug '12 9:09:34 AM by TamH70

 37 Morven, Sat, 18th Aug '12 9:20:13 AM from Seattle, WA, USA
Nemesis
The HH books are way more ... masturbatory.

About military hardware, for one thing; I can picture Weber being someone with bookshelves full of volumes about military stuff, and really being into it.

About politics. Weber's a right-wing military republican and so are a lot of his readers, and there's a huge amount of smug self-satisfaction in it at times.

The heroine isn't an author avatar but rather she's the author's paragon; she's a bit too perfect, and her flaws are, while definitely there and definitely obstacles at times, the kind of flaws an author's pet tends to get, because they're "acceptable" flaws. She also doesn't get to learn or change all that much.

If you're like me, that means that there are bits that I have to hold my nose through in those books.

The blessing is that all the dubious stuff is just window-dressing to the main point, which is the war. The politics and the character's personal life doesn't intrude on the good bits, and the good bits are most of the novels. Weber's a flawed writer but he's good at military strategy, tactics and action, and let's face it — that's why one reads his books. For me, it makes them guilty pleasures, because I know that there's a lot of crap to them, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Bujold's books, while superficially aimed at the same kind of audience, are a whole bunch deeper and more satisfying. For one thing, Bujold is not writing her fantasy of an ideal society. I suspect her ideal is actually a lot closer to Beta Colony than Barrayar, but the messier, bloodier reality of Barrayar is simply much more fun to write about. Her characters aren't paragons of goodness. Barrayar has done some truly horrible things within living memory, although the core characters are all trying to do good things (Aral, Cordelia, Miles, Ivan, Gregor etc.).

A brighter future for a darker age.
 38 Morven, Sat, 18th Aug '12 9:21:46 AM from Seattle, WA, USA
Nemesis
Oh, and picking a favorite is almost impossible. Most of the time I'll likely just think of the most recent one I (re)read.
A brighter future for a darker age.
 39 swallowfeather, Sat, 18th Aug '12 11:32:05 AM from the state of Denial
Destroyer of Weeds
After asking the question I struggled a bit, actually, between A Civil Campaign and Memory. But Memory won.

Character change. It's all about that for me. It's the deepest book of all of them for me, because:

  • What's "par for the series" doesn't happen. And then you have no idea what's going to happen.
  • You get to see Miles irreversibly screw up his life and permanently lose his job and be forced to deal with the consequences. That conversation by the water with Harra where she says "you just go on." Being willing to treat your characters that way, like real people... I can't say enough about how much I love that in an author.

Your comparisons of Bujold with Weber, Morwen, seem to me to be right on. I actually haven't read Weber, but have heard plenty about HH from my brother, who loves it, because military hardware and action and strategy and right-wing politics, just like you said. I didn't read it because I'm not into those particular things, and it didn't sound like there was enough else in there. It didn't sound like there was what we have in Bujold, which is an author who's really willing to get her hands dirty, so to speak, to plunge into real(istic) life, allow her characters to get hurt, to screw up, to be wrong, to realize it... etc.
"God created man because God likes stories." - Elie Wiesel
 40 Knightof Lsama, Sat, 18th Aug '12 4:27:42 PM from The Sea of Chaos
On the comparisons to Honor Harrington, I read both Weber and Bujold and generally I don't compare them since they are very different stories, despite both being modern Space Opera. Bujold is all about the sociology while for Weber the social and political aspects are a backdrop for the military action.

Also Miles and Honor are such different protagonists that any comparisons is a bit apples vs oranges. They started out in very different places and got to their current positions by very different routes.

(On the matter of Weber's politics, he and I would probably butt heads but for the most part it doesn't get in the way of his writing too much so its less 'hold your nose' and more 'sigh and move on'. If you want 'hold your nose' read John Ringo's. And Honor Harrington specifically I think has been helped immensely in that regard by the collaborations with Eric Flint who, by his own admission in the authors' notes of the Belisarius Series, admits he leans at lot further left than most of Baen's military sci-fi stable. Bujold is about the only one further left than him).

edited 18th Aug '12 4:29:35 PM by KnightofLsama

Welcome to the Sea of Chaos
 41 swallowfeather, Sat, 18th Aug '12 9:29:04 PM from the state of Denial
Destroyer of Weeds
Maybe the left thing is why I like Bujold. tongue

Actually it's the other thing you said, the sociology—right on. I'm not really a natural SF reader, there's a lot of it I don't go for, but the three I'm just crazy about are Bujold, Ursula K. Le Guin and Mary Doria Russell. They all have that in common: they're fundamentally about the complexities of societies and people. (Human or non.)

BTW, thanks for the link to the opening chapters of Captain Vorpatril's Alliance! Starting those now. I actually haven't read Cryoburn yet, although I'm itching to, when I can get it from the library, hopefully soon. I was a little worried after Diplomatic Immunity, which didn't seem to have the usual depth, but what I hear about Cryoburn sounds really good.
"God created man because God likes stories." - Elie Wiesel
 42 nightwyrm zero, Sat, 18th Aug '12 10:44:22 PM Relationship Status: Complex: I'm real, they are imaginary
I wouldn't even classify this series as military sci-fi aside from the first three or four books. Even as early as Ceta­gan­da and definitely after Memory, the series reads pretty much like mystery novels, just set in a futuristic setting.

edited 18th Aug '12 10:45:11 PM by nightwyrm_zero

 43 Nohbody, Sun, 19th Aug '12 8:54:48 AM from Somewhere in Dixie Relationship Status: Mu
Just zis guy
^ The military part would certainly be questionable for the later works, but still Sci-Fi. The tech is an integral part of most of the stories (Ethan of Athos disintegrates without the artificial womb and other genetic manipulation stuff, f'rex).

And on another note, just finished reading the teaser for Alliance. "Ivan, you idiot" indeed... tongue
 44 Lightningnettle, Sun, 19th Aug '12 11:52:49 AM Relationship Status: Shipping fictional characters
Nettle
One thing about Bujold's societies is that she has many different kinds of them. I'd love to see more about the Cetagandan society, we've gotten some interesting glimpses. My impression is that she finds people and how they organize themselves fascinating, so she plays with all kinds from the pure capitalism of Jackson's Whole to the far liberal Beta Colony. Her books are not about preaching how one way of organizing is innately superior to all the others, as is the case with the HH books. Some are better than others, but she does have several which seem to be good.

I find Weber's military stuff interesting when it's about the larger picture, but get very bored by calculations of how many thousand missles get thrown at each other. His best invention is the treecats, and my favorite character is Elizabeth, she has real and important flaws. Some of his antagonists are also interesting, as they learn, grow, and make hard choices, though others are cardboard. I have been losing interest in the latest ones, and doubt I'll read more of them, it's getting predictable; and I'm having more and more trouble believing in the consistent defeat of larger powers by a smaller one.

 45 nightwyrm zero, Sun, 19th Aug '12 12:57:27 PM Relationship Status: Complex: I'm real, they are imaginary
[up][up]Oh, I don't disagree it's sci-fi, just not military. Is sci-fi mystery a genre of its own?

 46 Deboss, Sun, 19th Aug '12 2:21:01 PM from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
Maybe? It's probably where I'd put Zahn's Midnight Train to Rigel or whatever the planet was.
 47 Tam H 70, Sun, 19th Aug '12 3:41:02 PM from 合計虐殺 Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
War ALWAYS changes. Man does not.
[up]Zahn as in Timothy Zahn, who supposedly wrote the only Star Wars expanded universe books worth reading since Alan Dean Foster wrote his trilogy?

Just thought of another question. Does anyone else think Miles was always going to end up as Lord Auditor Vorkosigan, or was I misreading signals?

edited 19th Aug '12 3:42:35 PM by TamH70

 48 Nohbody, Sun, 19th Aug '12 4:02:54 PM from Somewhere in Dixie Relationship Status: Mu
Just zis guy
^ Did we even know there was such a position before he was given it in Memory? Or do you mean any powerful position along the lines of Imperial Auditor? I don't recall mention of IA before Memory, but my own memory is somewhat spotty at the best of times.

(But I can still remember a Ralari masses 18000 tons and other truly trivial trivia. tongue )
 49 Tam H 70, Sun, 19th Aug '12 4:08:56 PM from 合計虐殺 Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
War ALWAYS changes. Man does not.
[up]Now that is a good question. Given that we know, or have had strong evidence stating so, that the position of Count is a corruption of the word "Accountant", that the "Vor" name actually means "thief" in Russian - word of Dante I think - Mrs Bujold had been told that vor meant thief and was supposed to say something along the lines of "yep, let's go with that", one would tend to think that the position of Imperial Auditor must always have existed.

Or at the very least, one very pissed off Emperor fed up with all his tax revenue being nicked by the accountants and the thieves must have decided to bring in some preventative measures.grin
 50 Nohbody, Sun, 19th Aug '12 4:19:13 PM from Somewhere in Dixie Relationship Status: Mu
Just zis guy
Yeah, the existence of a position like IA (just now noticed that Imperial Auditor has the same initials as Internal Affairs... heh; Granted, The Inquisitor General fits the position better, but Auditors do also cover the civilian side) makes sense, if for no other reason than that I don't see any reason for human nature to change, and that nature is bound to lead to someone trying to cheat the system in a way that the normal procedures may not cover.

edited 19th Aug '12 4:24:12 PM by Nohbody

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