Bujold, Lois McMaster 1949–
Bujold, Lois McMaster 1949–
Surname is pronounced "boo-jhold"; born November 2, 1949, in Columbus, OH; daughter of Robert Charles (an engineering professor) and Laura Elizabeth (a homemaker) McMaster; married John Fredric Bujold, October 9, 1971 (divorced, December, 1992); children: Anne Elizabeth, Paul Andre. Education: Attended Ohio State University, 1968-72.
Ohio State University Hospitals, pharmacy technician, 1972-78; homemaker, 1979—; writer, 1982—. Writing workshop instructor at Thurber House, spring, 1988, and Ohio State University, summers, 1990-92.
Science Fiction Writers of America.
Nebula Award for Best Novel, Science Fiction Writers of America, 1988, for Falling Free, and 2005, for Paladin of Souls; Nebula Award for Best Novella, Science Fiction Writers of America, and Hugo Award for Best Novella, World Science Fiction Society, both 1989, both for The Mountains of Mourning; Hugo Award for Best Novel, World Science Fiction Society, 1990, for The Vor Game, 1991, for Barrayar, 1995, for Mirror Dance, and 2004, for Paladin of Souls; first place Locus Award, Locus (magazine), 1991, for Barrayar, 1995, for Mirror Dance, and 2004, for Paladin of Souls; Mythopoeic Award, 2002, for Curse of Chalion; Ohioana Career Award, Ohioana Library Association, 2007.
SCIENCE FICTION; "MILES VORKOSIGAN" SERIES
Shards of Honor, Baen Books (Riverdale, NY), 1986.
Ethan of Athos, Baen Books (Riverdale, NY), 1986.
The Warrior's Apprentice, Baen Books (Riverdale, NY), 1986.
Falling Free (first published serially in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, December, 1987-February, 1988), Baen Books (Riverdale, NY), 1988.
Brothers in Arms, Baen Books (Riverdale, NY), 1989.
Borders of Infinity, Baen Books (Riverdale, NY), 1989.
The Vor Game, Baen Books (Riverdale, NY), 1990.
Vorkosigan's Game (contains Borders of Infinity and The Vor Game), Science Fiction Book Club (New York, NY), 1990.
Barrayar (first published serially in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, July-October, 1991), Baen Books (Riverdale, NY), 1991.
Mirror Dance (sequel to Brothers in Arms), Baen Books (Riverdale, NY), 1994.
Cetaganda, Baen Books (Riverdale, NY), 1996.
Memory, Baen Books (Riverdale, NY), 1996.
Young Miles, Baen Books (Riverdale, NY), 1997.
Komarr, Baen Books (Riverdale, NY), 1998.
A Civil Campaign: A Comedy of Biology and Manners, Baen Books (Riverdale, NY), 1999.
Miles, Mystery, and Mayhem, Baen Books (Riverdale, NY), 2001.
Diplomatic Immunity: A Comedy of Terrors, Baen Books (Riverdale, NY), 2002.
Also author of novellas The Mountains of Mourning, published in Analog, May, 1989, and Winterfair Gifts, published in Irresistible Forces, edited by Catherine Asaro, 2004. Contributor to periodicals, including American Fantasy, Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, Columbus Dispatch, Far Frontiers, New Destinies, and Twilight Zone.
The Spirit Ring, Baen Books (Riverdale, NY), 1992.
The Curse of Chalion, Eos (New York, NY), 2001.
Paladin of Souls, Eos (New York, NY), 2004.
Beguilement ("The Sharing Knife" series), Eos (New York, NY), 2004.
The Hallowed Hunt, Eos (New York, NY), 2005.
Legacy ("The Sharing Knife" series), Eos (New York, NY), 2007.
Dreamweaver's Dilemma: Short Stories and Essays, edited by Suford Lewis, New England Science Fiction Association Press (Framingham, MA), 1995.
(Editor, with Roland J. Green) Women at War, Tor (New York, NY), 1995.
Bujold's novels have been translated into Spanish, Italian, German, French, Polish, Romanian, Japanese, Hebrew, Lithuanian, Croatian, Korean, Bulgarian, Greek, Czech, Chinese, Hungarian, Serbian, Dutch, and Russian.
Bujold's short story "Barter" was adapted for the syndicated television program Tales from the Darkside, 1986. Bujold's work has been published in audiobook format by The Reader's Chair, Blackstone Audiobooks and Audible.com.
Lois McMaster Bujold is widely known in the science-fiction field for her witty, believable tales of Miles Vorkosigan, the protagonist of a series that is over a dozen books and growing. Bujold is considered a master at character development and the nuances of human interaction—qualities not always found in modern science fiction. Although best known as the creator of Vorkosigan, the disabled military genius and mercenary, Bujold has written many other critically acclaimed science fiction novels, as well as several well-received fantasy books.
Born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1949, Bujold has been a self-confessed voracious reader all her life. Beginning with horse stories as a young reader, she graduated to adult science fiction at the age of nine. She acquired this taste from her father, who was an engineer, a professor at Ohio State, and a graduate of Cal Tech. The novels and science fiction magazines he would buy to read while flying to various consulting jobs would invariably end up with his daughter. Bujold also began writing at an early age, already crafting look-alike snippets of prose that emulated her favorite writers. A friend and Bujold would collaborate on extended story lines as after school entertainment.
After graduating from high school, Bujold attended Ohio State University from 1968 to 1972, but she did not graduate. "I dabbled with English as a major in college," the author noted on her Web site, the Bujold Nexus, "but quickly fell away from it—my heart was in the creative, not the critical end of things." As a student of photography and biology, she traveled to East Africa collecting slides of insects while still in college. Bujold noted on her Web site that her real education came not from her classes in college, but from "reading five books a week for ten years from the Ohio State University stacks [and] reading enormous amounts of SF as a teenager." After leaving college, Bujold worked as a pharmacy technician by day while continuing to experiment with various writing forms, including a Sherlock Holmes pastiche. When her old school chum, Lillian Stewart Carl, began writing again and publishing, Bujold was inspired to do the same. Married, with two children, no day job, and in need of money, she decided to give writing a try.
"I quickly discovered that writing was far too demanding and draining to justify as a hobby," Bujold wrote on her Web site, "and that only serious professional recognition would satisfy me. Whatever had to be done, in terms of writing, re-writing, cutting, editorial analysis, and trying again, I was determined to do. This was an immensely fruitful period in my growth as a writer, all of it invisible to the outside observer."
Her hard work paid off. By 1982 she had settled on science fiction as her field, and in quick succession she wrote Shards of Honor, The Warrior's Apprentice, and Ethan of Athos. As these novels made the rounds of New York publishers, she broke into print in Twilight Zone magazine with a short story. Then, in 1985, Bujold accomplished the feat of receiving publishing contracts for all three of her novels.
Bujold's first book, Shards of Honor, is a science-fiction romance that describes events prior to Miles's birth. In this novel, Cordelia Naismith is the leader of a scientific survey group; Aral Vorkosigan is the commander of a military force which destroys the survey camp. Though enemies, the two must work together to survive, and by the time they return to their opposing societies they have fallen in love. "Bujold has a nice hand with the complications" of the story, asserted Tom Easton in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact. Granting the plot's predictability, he commended Bujold for delving into dilemmas of personal and cultural honor, exploitation of science by government, and love that crosses political boundaries.
Miles Vorkosigan is the son of Cordelia and Aral, and in The Warrior's Apprentice Bujold begins his story, recounting his efforts to follow in his father's footsteps and, failing, to find his own path in life. Born into the warrior class, Miles tries unsuccessfully to enter the military academy despite having been deformed before birth and afflicted with extremely fragile bones. After this failure he begins traveling to complete his education in other ways. Comparing The Warrior's Apprentice to Shards of Honor, which had been hailed as a highly promising first novel, Martha A. Bartter, writing in Fantasy Review, found Miles's story "better: more unified, faster-paced, funnier." Recommending the book highly, the critic observed, "Bujold may be a new voice among science fiction writers, but she knows how to make a story work."
In 1988 Bujold won her first Nebula Award, for Falling Free, which depicts a human engineer's efforts to liberate an exploited race. Genetically created with four hands and no legs, the "quaddies" live and work in a low-gravity environment under the control of a huge corporation. Leo Graf, with all the individuality and integrity of a good engineer, leads them to freedom by his own example. Reviewing the book for Washington Post Book World, Kathryn Cramer criticized Bujold's conception of the quaddies' revolution as simplistic, but she praised the book for its "portrayal of the emotional experience of being an engineer." Remarked Cramer: "The ability to portray scientists and engineers at work has long been one of the strengths of science fiction, now sadly lacking in much contemporary sf."
Bujold continues the story of Miles Vorkosigan in the subsequent novels Brothers in Arms, Borders of Infinity, The Vor Game, Barrayar, Mirror Dance, Cetaganda, Memory, and Komarr. Hugely popular with fans of the series, the Miles Vorkosigan books have also been lauded by critics; Barrayar earned Bujold her third Hugo Award, while Mirror Dance won both the Locus and Hugo Awards for best novel in 1995. One novel in the series, Barrayar, looks back at the events that happened during Cordelia Naismith's pregnancy with Miles. Shortly after Cordelia and Aral Vorkosigan are married, the Emperor of Barrayar dies and the highly-ranked Aral Vorkosigan is appointed regent of the planet. Mary K. Chelton commented in Voice of Youth Advocates that "Bujold has a genius for blending technological speculation, the conventions of classic military science fiction, and cultural anthropology" to create "wonderfully plotted stories." Bartter, writing in Twentieth-Century Science Fiction Writers, observed that "Bujold doesn't preach; her characters must make hard choices, and pay the price for them." And Faren Miller declared in Locus that "in many respects her new book, Barrayar, is the best yet," adding: "This is sf fully equipped with brains, humor, and heart."
Bujold's 1994 title, Mirror Dance, also won a Hugo Award for science fiction. In this novel, Miles has in-depth encounters with his clone, Mark. Despite the fact that they are made from the same basic genetic materials, the two are very different. Unbeknownst to Miles, Mark has taken his place as Admiral Naismith, head of a fleet of mercenaries, in order to stage a raid on a cloning facility whose products are scheduled to become brain-transplant hosts. Unfortunately, his lack of experience and his tendencies for introspection are hampering him. When Miles finds out about his plan, the more impulsive "brother" rushes to get in on the action. However, Miles is killed by a stray bullet, put into cryogenic freeze, and then dropped in an anonymous mail chute with little hope of his friends finding his correct shipping address. Mark then is taken to visit Miles's parents to tell them of the news, and finds that they are willing to accept and love him as if he had been born to them. In this book, Mark finally gets a chance to find out who he really is. A critic in Publishers Weekly claimed the book is "peopled with introspective but genuine heroes who seize the reader's imagination and intellect." Calling the plot "as good a story as ever was offered as science fiction," Booklist reviewer Roland Green asserted that the book "deserves the highest recommendation and a hoard of eager readers." Miller, reviewing the work in Locus, observed that Mirror Dance is "often darker than anything Bujold has achieved before," but the critic concluded by encouraging readers to "go discover this impressive book for yourself: you're in for some surprises, but I don't think you'll be disappointed."
The 1995 release Cetaganda returns once again to the world of Miles Vorkosigan, prior to his death in the last series novel. In this adventure, he calls upon his diplomatic skills in a trip to the planet Cetaganda, where he is to attend the funeral of the empress. In the follow-up to Mirror Dance, the 1996 Memory, Miles is resurrected and explores all the ramifications, both physical and spiritual, of his near death experience. Though he is not fully recovered, he takes on a mission for the Barrayan secret service, only to be dismissed for covering up an incident. There is no time to sulk, however; he is soon called back from civilian life to help save the empire. A contributor for Publishers Weekly noted that the Vorkosigan books "started out as fairly lightweight space opera," but in the process of writing the series Bujold "has matured as a writer."
In Komarr, Miles, forced to give up his military career and become an Imperial Auditor, investigates a space accident at the planet Komarr, which is occupied by the Barrayar and is the front line of defense against the enemy Cetagandians. Miles soon uncovers plots within plots in the process of his investigations, as he finds the band of terrorists who are responsible for the accident. Miles also discovers a possible love interest in Ekaterin. Booklist reviewer Green called this novel another "fine effort from one of sf's outstanding talents." Paula Lewis, writing in Voice of Youth Advocates, similarly wrote that "Bujold retains the wit, intelligence, action, and great character development that have made the Miles Vorkosigan series so superior."
Bujold's sequel to Komarr was the 1999 novel A Civil Campaign: A Comedy of Biology and Manners. In this outing, Miles pursues his love for Ekaterin. One big stumbling block, however, is the fact that he is partially responsible for the death of her husband. Critics continued to respond positively to the series. A Publishers Weekly reviewer concluded: "Bujold successfully mixes quirky humor with just enough action, a dab of feminist social commentary and her usual superb character development." And Carolyn Cushman, writing in Locus, called this tale "a romantic romp" in which "Miles learns that the only way to win at love is to surrender."
The series continues with the 2002 publication of Diplomatic Immunity: A Comedy of Terrors. In this installment, Miles and his long-time love interest, Ekaterin, finally are wed, and he is now about to become a father. However, trouble in Quaddiespace has raised intergalactic tensions. Miles, aided by Ekaterin, must solve a series of crimes to defuse a situation that could lead to wider hostilities. For Roland Green, writing in Booklist, a new installment of Miles Vorkosigan assures readers of "entertaining exploits." Similarly, Jackie Cassada, reviewing Diplomatic Immunity in Library Journal, felt that Miles is "one of the genre's most enterprising and engaging heroes." A Kirkus Reviews critic, however, found that "too many early series references needlessly obfuscate a breezy, conventional, albeit deep-space, whodunit." On the other hand, a reviewer for Publishers Weekly wrote: "As usual, Bujold is adept at world-building and provides a witty, character-centered plot," and a Kliatt reviewer termed the novel "vastly entertaining."
In addition to her highly successful series about Miles Vorkosigan, Bujold has also penned well-received fantasy novels, including The Spirit Ring and The Curseof Chalion and its sequels. In the first fantasy, Bujold travels to Renaissance Italy, which in this novel is changed into a fantasy world. The novel focuses on Fiametta Beneforte, the teenage daughter of the powerful magician Prospero. Fiametta begs her father to teach her his magical talents, but he refuses because of her gender. Then their duchy is invaded and the Duke killed, and as Fiametta and her father flee, he drops dead from cardiac arrest. His body is taken back to the occupied castle to be used in an act of unspeakable black magic that will bind his soul. With the help of Thur Ochs, a man who fits Fiametta's true-love ring perfectly, they overtake the castle's invaders and free her father's spirit. Although peopled with ghosts and demons, The Spirit Ring "is solidly grounded in human psychology and the ways of the real world," Miller claimed in Locus. Susan Rice wrote in Voice of Youth Advocates that Bujold had made the transfer from science fiction to fantasy quite readily, claiming that "with this new setting and characters, it is Bujold's best yet," and concluding to the reader: "Don't miss this one, it's a keeper."
The Curse of Chalion presents a political fantasy in which the former soldier Cazaril is betrayed and sold into slavery. Managing to escape years later, he returns to Chalion, the homeland which he once served so faithfully. Once back, he takes the menial job of secretary to a young noblewoman, sister to the heir to the throne. Things begin to heat up for Cazaril when he is caught in a web of political intrigue as well as black magic and forced to fight a curse that threatens the royal house. "Science fiction's loss is fantasy's gain," wrote Don D'Ammassa in Science Fiction Chronicle. Noting that Bujold always delivers at least a good story, D'Ammassa concluded: "This is one of the great ones." Paul Brink, writing in School Library Journal, also commended this fantasy novel, calling it a "finely balanced mixture of adventure, swordplay, court intrigue, romance, magic, and religion." The Curse of Chalion went on to win the 2002 Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature.
Bujold features the fantasy world of Chalion in two further titles that share location, but not necessarily characters or events. With the 2003 Paladin of Souls, the aged Ista Dy Baocia makes a pilgrimage to Chalion, but finds little to ease her soul in this "engaging installment," as a Publishers Weekly reviewer termed the book. The same writer also found the novel "rich in sumptuous detail and speculative theology." Green, writing in Booklist, had similar praise for this novel that went on to win a Hugo Award: "Bujold couldn't characterize badly if threatened with a firing squad, and what really keeps one turning the pages is the fascinating cast of characters." A further positive assessment came from Library Journal contributor Cassada, who called the book "an engaging fantasy."
Lord Ingrey kin Wolfcliff is featured in the third book in the series, The Hallowed Hunt. Ingrey must investigate the murder of the son of Prince Boleso, and suspicion at first falls on an orphaned noblewoman to whom Ingrey in turn is attracted. Frieda Murray, writing in Booklist, commented that "Bujold's reworking of a classic romantic situation is distinguished by its setting in a well-crafted world and masterly creation of characters." However, Robert K.J. Killheffer, writing in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, was less impressed with The Hallowed Hunt, noting that it "never draws us all the way in, never transports us out of awareness of the everyday, never removes us from the comforts of home." Cassada, writing in Library Journal, had a higher assessment of The Hallowed Hunt, noting: "political intrigue, shamanic marriage, and dynastic drama combine for a topnotch addition." Similarly, a Publishers Weekly reviewer found the novel "absorbing," and commended Bujold for her "ability to sustain a breathless pace of action while preserving a heady sense of verisimilitude."
With the 2006 Beguilement, Bujold launched the four-book romantic fantasy series "The Sharing Knife." Dag, a patroller in the nameless land where the action is set is committed to battling evil; Fawn is a runaway farm worker who aids Dag in his fight against the evil "malices," and loses her unborn baby in the process. Romance soon develops between the two as a result. The sharing knife of the title is a bone blade that carries the spirit of such patrollers as Dag, and which now carries the life force of Fawn's unborn baby. A Publishers Weekly contributor praised the "compelling characters" in this first installment. Similarly, Booklist contributor Murray noted that "Bujold develops the characters and their relationship skillfully enough to please romance as well as fantasy fans." And Cassada, writing in Library Journal, observed that Bujold "crafts a world filled with unique monsters and an original approach to magic."
Bujold has long been cited for her exceptional character development. Mary K. Chelton observed in Voice of Youth Advocates that Bujold's "characters are so vivid and easily beloved that they master the plot and the reader simultaneously. It is an honor to have read her work, and a debt of honor repaid to encourage others to introduce her to kids." Bujold remarked in Twentieth-Century Science Fiction Writers that character development is one of her main considerations: "I try to write the kind of book I most like to read: character-centered adventure." Chelton concluded that Bujold's "people wear their civilization on the inside. And can she write about it! But then, science fiction has always been about that. Bujold just does it better than almost anybody else."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Bishop, Michael, editor, Nebula Awards 24: SFWA'S Choices for the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1990.
Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, edited by John Clute and Peter Nicholls, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1993.
St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers, 4th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
Twentieth-Century Science Fiction Writers, 3rd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1991.
Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, January, 1987, Tom Easton, review of Shards of Honor, pp. 179-180.
Booklist, February 1, 1987, Roland Green, review of Ethan of Athos, p. 822; March 1, 1988, Roland Green, review of Falling Free, p. 1098; December 1, 1988, Roland Green, review of Brothers in Arms, p. 618; September 1, 1992, Roland Green, review of The Spirit Ring, pp. 37-38; January 1, 1994, Roland Green, review of Mirror Dance, p. 811; November 15, 1995, Roland Green, review of Cetaganda, pp. 538, 541; September 1, 1996, Roland Green, review of Memory, p. 69; May 15, 1998, Roland Green, review of Komarr, p. 1600; May 15, 1999, Ray Olson, "Top 10 SF/Fantasy," p. 1678; September 1, 1999, Roland Green, review of A Civil Campaign: A Comedy of Biology and Manners, p. 75; May 1, 2001, Roland Green, review of The Curse of Chalion, p. 1672; April 15, 2002, Roland Green, review of Diplomatic Immunity: A Comedy of Terrors, p. 1386; September 1, 2003, Roland Green, review of Paladin of Souls, p. 5; June 1, 2005, Frieda Murray, review of The Hallowed Hunt, p. 1766; August 1, 2006, Frieda Murray, review of Beguilement, p. 57.
Extrapolation, fall, 1996, Anne L. Haehl, "Miles Vorkosigan and the Power of Words: A Study of Lois McMaster Bujold's Unlikely Hero," pp. 224-233; winter, 1996, Donald M. Hassler, review of Dreamweaver's Dilemma, pp. 370-371.
Fantasy Review, October, 1986, Martha A. Bartter, review of The Warrior's Apprentice, p. 20.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 1999, review of A Civil Campaign, p. 1182; April 1, 2002, review of Diplomatic Immunity, p. 460.
Kliatt, July, 2003, review of Diplomatic Immunity, p. 6; November, 2003, Leslie S.J. Farmer, review of Diplomatic Immunity, p. 23.
Library Journal, December, 1995, Jackie Cassada, review of Cetaganda, pp. 163-164; September 15, 1999, Jackie Cassada, review of A Civil Campaign, p. 115; April 1, 2000, Dean James, review of A Civil Campaign, p. 160; July, 2001, Jackie Cassada, review of The Curse of Chalion, p. 131; May 15, 2002, Jackie Cassada, review of Diplomatic Immunity, p. 130; July, 2003, Jackie Cassada, review of Paladin of Souls, p. 132; April 15, 2005, Jackie Cassada, review of The Hallowed Hunt, p. 78; August 1, 2006, Jackie Cassada, review of Beguilement, p. 76.
Locus, September, 1991, Faren Miller, review of Barrayar, pp. 15, 17; August, 1992, Faren Miller, review of The Spirit Ring, pp. 17, 55-56; January, 1994, Faren Miller, review of Mirror Dance, p. 15; October, 1999, Carolyn Cushman, review of A Civil Campaign, p. 27.
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March, 2006, Robert K.J. Killheffer, review of The Hallowed Hunt, p. 38.
Publishers Weekly, August 31, 1992, review of The Spirit Ring, pp. 67-68; January 3, 1994, review of Mirror Dance, p. 76; December 11, 1995, review of Cetaganda, p. 61; September 23, 1996, review of Memory, p. 60; April 27, 1998, review of Komarr, p. 49; August 23, 1999, review of A Civil Campaign, p. 52; December 3, 2001, review of Miles, Mystery and Mayhem, p. 46; April 1, 2002, review of Diplomatic Immunity, p. 58; July 7, 2003, review of Paladin of Souls, p. 56; May 2, 2005, review of The Hallowed Hunt, p. 181; August 28, 2006, review of Beguilement, p. 36.
School Library Journal, October, 2001, Paul Brink, review of The Curse of Chalion, p. 194; October, 2006, Matthew L. Moffett, review of Beguilement, p. 187.
Science Fiction Chronicle, May, 2001, Dan D'Ammassa, review of The Curse of Chalion, p. 40.
Voice of Youth Advocates, December, 1986, Margrett J. McFadden, review of Shards of Honor, p. 233; February, 1987, Eleanor Klopp, review of The Warrior's Apprentice, p. 290; February, 1991, Judy Kowalski, review of The Vor Game, p. 361; December, 1991, Mary K. Chelton, "A Debt of Honor Repaid: The Science Fiction Novels of Lois McMaster Bujold—‘My Word On It’," pp. 295-297; February, 1992, Mary K. Chelton, review of Barrayar, pp. 378-379; April, 1993, Susan Rice, review of Spirit Ring, p. 36; June, 1996, Kim Carter, review of Cetaganda, pp. 106-107; June, 1996, Vicky Burkholder, review of Women at War, p. 112; October, 1998, Paula Lewis, review of Komarr, p. 282.
Washington Post Book World, July 30, 1989, Kathryn Cramer, review of Falling Free.
Writer's Digest, July, 1994, Bart Kemper, "Dancing on the Edge," pp. 6-7.
Bookslut,http://www.bookslut.com/ (April 7, 2007), Adrienne Martini, "An Interview with Lois McMaster Bujold."
Bujold Nexus,http://www.dendarii.com (April 25, 2007).
SciFi Dimensions,http://www.scifidimensions.com/ (April 7, 2007), Carlos Aranaga, "Interview: Lois McMaster Bujold."