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Falling Free (Miles Vorkosigan Adventures)…

Falling Free (Miles Vorkosigan Adventures) (original 1988; edition 2008)

by Lois McMaster Bujold

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1,833413,805 (3.68)1 / 87
Title:Falling Free (Miles Vorkosigan Adventures)
Authors:Lois McMaster Bujold
Info:Baen (2008), Edition: Reissue, Mass Market Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library

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Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold (1988)


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Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
Maybe only 3.5 stars for the book itself. Grover Gardner once again does a marvelous job with the narration -- I am so glad that the whole series has been recorded with the same narrator!

This novel, #4 in the Vorkosigan series, is really a prequel. Set ~200 years before Miles' birth, it explains the origin of the quaddies. I think that I would have liked it more if I hadn't come to it in the middle of reading the series, as I missed Miles & it suffered in comparison to "Miles in Love" which I recently read and adored. It has several features which I generally like in my sci fi/fantasy reading such as the moral dilemma posed by a company creating humanoid workers who are considered the property of the company. I will have to revisit this Nebula award-winner sometime and see how it fares as a stand-alone. ( )
  leslie.98 | Aug 17, 2015 |
This is first in chronological order of the Vorkosigan Saga save for the short story [b:Dreamweaver's Dilemma|990089|Dreamweaver's Dilemma|Lois McMaster Bujold|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1180035497s/990089.jpg|975590]. I've read most of them in published order, but read them generally as they were published, which is a different order & has stretched out for many years. I've never tried them in audio format, but thought them well suited. I was right.

This deals with the origins of the Quaddies, a race that was first introduced in one of the early books about Miles. I really liked it, although Murphy (what can go wrong will) seemed to camp out in the final pages. It was a little too much, but fun.

( )
  jimmaclachlan | Aug 18, 2014 |
It's really fun to read a book mostly from an engineer's POV, I have to say. ( )
  cendri | May 30, 2014 |
Falling Free is part of the Vorkosigan Saga, although I can't (yet) see the connection. I've read both Shards of Honor and Barrayar, the next two books in the saga and Falling Free does not appear to relate, but that is just fine, because I liked this tale.

Leo Graf, our main protagonist, is an engineer who is sent to work at the Cay Habitat in zero gravity with a group of very intelligent yet emotionally naive Quaddies. Quaddies are genetically engineered human beings bred with a second set of arms in place of legs (for a total of four arms). They were engineered in such a way as they do not suffer the typical side effects common to humans due to prolonged time in space, such as bone loss and atrophy of the muscles in the lower extremities. They were never intended to live their lives in space and were to serve as a space bound work force. Leo's job is to educate the Quaddies about engineering.

“This is the most important thing I will ever say to you. The human mind is the ultimate testing device. You can take all the notes you want on the technical data, anything you forget you can look up again, but this must be engraved on your hearts in letters of fire. There is nothing, nothing, nothing, more important to me in the men and women I train then their absolute personal integrity. Whether you function as welders or inspectors, the laws of physics are implacable lie detectors. You may fool men. You will never fool metal. That’s all.”
― Lois McMaster Bujold, Falling Free

Leo soon finds himself in a bit of an ethical dilemma. He does not like the pretended benevolence with which the Quaddies are treated by their care takers and recognizes it as actually something more akin to the type of patriarchal benevolence practiced by a master toward a slave. In fact, as it turns out, the Quaddies are less than slaves, if that is possible, as they are characterized as post-fetal experimental tissue cultures. This is particularly significant when, suddenly deemed obsolete, the Company decides to sterilize the entire lot of Quaddies and house them downside somewhere until they die.

Leo teaches the very naive and childlike (most really are technically children) Quaddies that they are to be valued as any other human being and he helps them break away from the care takers in order to strike out on their own among the stars.

I've read multiple reviews of this book and overall people tend to believe this book to be passable but definitely not one of Bujold's best. Personally I find that Falling Free has some of the most honest and brave character portrayals, showing people as they really are... hovering somewhere in the realm between good and evil. Certainly there are characters that cross the line, but most of us have our moments good or bad) and these characters do too. They, like most humans, make decisions based on their own self-interest, even the good/right decisions. And, as with much of humanity over history, the people in this book have found ways to neatly reason their trespasses. This tale also explores what can happen to a person who does not value their self-worth, that they might sell themselves cheaply, as does Silver, a very bright and pretty Quaddie who she allows her body to be used for small favors.

Leo is a true hero. He puts himself in the line of fire, so to speak, in order to help the Quaddies escape sterilization and an unjust imprisonment for the chance to begin a new life on their own.

“There was no limit to what one man might do, if he gave all, and held back nothing.”
― Lois McMaster Bujold, Falling Free

This story has a happy ending. I wouldn't have it any other way.
All of that said, Falling Free is none too subtle. It makes some very clear statements about slavery, prejudice, humanity and what constitutes humanity, justice, honesty, and human duty. While I appreciate subtlety, I can tolerate Bujold's presentation here. It works for me.

There is one thing about which I did experience a bit of discomfort with regards to this tale, and it may be simply my misunderstanding, and I hope this is the case. The Quaddies are described as being children essentially, teenagers. Yet, their caretakers encourage them to mate on cue. In other words, they decide who should try to become pregnant, and with whom. Like cattle, eh? I am uncomfortable with this on the one hand and yet, I had to keep reminding myself, on the other hand, teenagers do have sex and have children and while this isn't the preference, it happens all over the world and is acceptable in many cultures. In that regard I can't find a lot of fault with it, and this further lends to the bravery had honesty with which this story was written. In that, it challenges some of our long held understandings of what is "supposed" to be right and wrong.
To me, this is what good writing is all about.
( )
  khaalidah | Mar 14, 2014 |
Conflicting feelings about this book make it kind of tough to rate. I liked this story, and it pulled me right in, one with science in the science fiction, but I found myself bothered by the rather cartoonish portrayal of the creepy bad company and scientist/engineer Van Atta, etc. Our "hero" Leo Graf is a likeable fellow and easy to sympathize with. Van Atta is a former student of Leo Graf who has more or less gone over to the dark side. He was probably always on the dark side.

Without spoiling things I want to give credit for one great bit of writing. The sequence wherein those who had lived their entire lives in space first encounter planet side gravity was great. I had grown so used to the weightless movement that when gravity showed up it was totally alien to me too and I so sympathized with the reactions of the characters. Really well done.

I enjoyed the greater part of the book although the end disappointed me a little. ( )
  RBeffa | Mar 10, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
Falling Free is one of Bujold’s early books, and it isn’t as technically accomplished as her later work. It’s definitely one of her minor books, but she’s so good that a minor book for her would be a major one for anyone else.
added by Shortride | editTor.com, Jo Walton (Aug 6, 2009)

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lois McMaster Bujoldprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Elson, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gardner, GroverNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gutierrez, AlanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seeley, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Turner, PatrickCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 067157812X, Mass Market Paperback)

Leo Graf was an effective engineer ...Safety Regs weren't just the rule book he swore by; he'd helped write them. All that changed on his assignment to the Cay Habitat. Leo was profoundly uneasy with the corporation exploitation of his bright new students - till that exploitation turned to something much worse. He hadn't anticipated a situation where the right thing to do was neither safe, nor in the rules...Leo Graf adopted 1000 quaddies - now all he had to do was teach them to be free.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:05 -0400)

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A Vorkosigan adventure. Sci-fi. Winner of Nebula Award.

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