Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A Hugo Review: Best Series - The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold

I'm of multiple minds how to handle this category, as there is no chance of me even getting close to finishing all the entries before voting ends. This is the only series I was very familiar with before the finalists were announced, and it's perhaps my all-time favorite series. There's no way I'm NOT going to put it at the top of my ballot.

But, that said, what do I do about the others? I've skimmed, read a bit of each, and I'm just not sure. With only a couple more days of reading time, I'm not certain yet what I'll do.

So I guess my best bet at the moment is to tell my handful of readers why I like Bujold's work so much.

This series is concerned with the events in a family, focusing mainly on two family members: Cordelia and her son, Miles. I started by reading some of the books completely out of order, then went back and read Shards of Honor and Barrayar, then the rest mostly in publication order after that. Shards of Honor and Barrayar are Cordelia's books, funny and poignant and filled with hope. Most of the other books are about Miles and his various adventures as a man fighting physical problems caused before he was born while trying to live up to his family name.

Over the course of the series, the reader becomes friends with a huge cast of fantastic and wonderful people, all of them filled out with problems and strengths, some liking the others and some not. The end result is that the series as a whole fills its own universe and by the end of CryoBurn - when a certain event happens - the whole universe seems to shatter.

And I guess that's what I love about this series. You are carried along in a bunch of crazy adventures that are each satisfying as a piece, but as a whole work even better.

My favorite "trio" within the series is Memory, Komarr and A Civil Campaign. As a person who struggles with depression, reading Memory takes me down a dark path as Miles suffers what he would consider the worst possible events of his life (keeping in mind that he DIED in a previous book). Through the book, he's at his lowest and yet still manages to pull himself up enough to solve a mystery. Then in Komarr we see him adjust to a new life - which I find heartening. Sometimes you want nothing more than to get back what you've lost, but in Komarr the main character goes in a completely different direction and finds joy and love there. The final of the trio is A Civil Campaign, which is an all-out romp and enjoyable because it's hilarious.

By rereading those three books, I can often pull myself out of a deep depression and face the world again with new eyes. And it's the way this series can help me think differently about my own life while reading about the lives of fictional characters that has turned it into my favorite reread.

Conclusion: I don't know how I'm going to treat the rest of the series finalists, but as a series that has probably saved my life, this one is on top of my ballot.