Komarr, by Lois McMaster Bujold

komarr-by-lois-mcmaster-bujold coverGenre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Baen
Published: 1998
Reviewer Rating: threestars

Book Review by Aaron M. Renn

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Why write a review of any already popular book? That’s a good question, I guess. After all, most of the people who are going to read Komarr probably already have, or at least are committed to doing so. With an author as highly regarded as Bujold, and the large volumes already written about Komarr, it’s doubtful anything I write will convince anyone of anything. Nevertheless, I think it’s worthwhile to review books like this because it can give those of you on the net who read these valuable insights into my thinking process. My reviews of already well known works serve as reference posts of a sort. If you’ve read the work yourself and agree with them, then perhaps you’ll be more likely to take my word for it on something you haven’t. If on the other hand you’re such a cretin that you don’t agree with my all wise evaluation….

After the Barrayarans threw off the yoke of their Cetagandan overlords, they promptly launched an invasion of their own, taking over a planet called Komarr that just happened to be near the only wormhole link back to Barrayar. During this invasion, there were apparently a few massacres that took place under the command of Miles Vorkosigan’s father Aral. In the grandest traditions of Presidents Clinton and Reagan, Aral Vorkosigan swore that he had no knowledge of this, and that the actions were taken by rogue subordinates.

Aral’s protestations notwithstanding, the Komarrans have dubbed him the “Butcher of Komarr”. I guess that’s why out of 12 imperial auditors, Empereor Gregor of Barrayar chose to send Miles son-of-butcher Vorkosigan to Komarr to investigate a space collision that damaged a mirror being used in the ongoing Komarr terraforming operation. Nothing like rubbing the Komarrans nose in things, eh?

Anyhow, Miles never really gets a chance to start investigating things. He first goes with co-auditor Vorthys down to the surface to meet some of Vorthys relatives, Tien and Kat Vorsoisson. Tien is the administrator of one of the terraforming subdirectorates. Miles takes an instant interest in the Vorsoisson family, particularly Kat, and ends up spending most of his time dealing with various situations concerning them while Vorthys does most of the heavy lifting on the mirror crash investigation. Naturally there are a whole lot of twists and turns that lead to interesting and unexpected places.

The book is well written. The characters are strong. One of the things I really like about Bujold is that she doesn’t try to get flowery on us. The story is told in a straightforward and clean way that still manages to give the impression of being expertly done. More writers should be like this. But the story was also a fairly light and unambitious one. I get the impression that Bujold’s skills are a bit wasted on something this light. Of course I’ve not read anything by her that was more meaty, so I could be wrong about that.

Komarr is a short, quick, interesting read. Compared to the Borders of Infinity anthology, it was much less preachy, so I liked it a bit more. It should, and of course does, have a broad appeal.

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