Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Review: The Vor Game

Take James Bond and remove his suave exterior, Gregory House and his bitter core and Jack Reacher and all traces of brawn and technophobia and you'd end up with an unlikely hero: Miles Vorkosigan. Miles is the main character in my latest read: The Vor Game by Lois McMaster Bujold. While this is the 8th book in the series, it was my introduction to the so called Vorkosigan Saga.

As introductions go, it was a delightful one. I started the book cold and enjoyed getting to know the characters through the clues Bujold laid for me. Looking back at the description of the book, I see that nearly the entire first act is revealed, which truly a shame. I can imagine publishers feel the need to reveal some of story to pull in readers, but my gosh, what a way to ruin a story.

I can't recall a book that features such a physically challenged character in such an inventive way. Yes, Miles is forced to compensate for his lack of physical attributes by using his brain and wit. But it's more than that, he manages to use his physical features to his advantage at times and at other times he reveals his frustration and disappointment with his stature. This depth of character makes for a richness that a Bond or Reacher miss out on.

I found the tone of the Vor Game to be especially interesting. For reasons I can't entirely say, it has an old school Sci-Fi feel to it. That is, it's clearly written about the distant future, but it seems to be imagined in 1950's terms. Perhaps it's all the references to vidplates and communication consoles and such; terms that conjure up 1970's Star Trek more so than a modern the-computer-is-invisible approach we're experiencing even today. Yet, the Vor Game is a decidedly modern book as the author grew up in 50's and 60's versus being published in the 50's and 60's. Perhaps I'm reading into something that's not there, but I for one enjoyed the retro style. The awkward technology seems to pair well with our awkward, yet lovable, hero.

If there's one complaint I could level against the book it's that the story-arc was so long and impossibly chained together that I eventually gave up trying to predict where it was going. Yet, there was also a certain pleasure that came from sitting back and watching the story unfold.

Next time I get a craving for some good old fashion spacey Sci-Fi, I know where I'm headed: the Vorkosigan Saga.

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