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

by Lois McMaster Bujold

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1,877433,672 (3.67)1 / 96
Member:mrund
Title:Falling Free (Miles Vorkosigan Adventures)
Authors:Lois McMaster Bujold
Info:Baen (2008), Edition: Reissue, Mass Market Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold (1988)

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Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
Falling Free is one of several Hugo winners for Lois McMaster Bujold, she is practically sci-fi’s counterpart to Meryl Streep in term of awards. This book is set in her popular Vorkosigan universe but does not have any Vorkosigan in it, not even a mention. In the time setting of this book Miles Vorkosigan will not be born for another 200 years. However, this does not mean this book is like a cup of coffee without any coffee in it, it is well worth anybody’s time.

Basically this is a story of a race of bioengineered humans called the “Quadies”. They have four arms but no legs, the lower pair of arms are placed where the legs normally are. This configuration is designed for living and operating naturally in freefall. They live in a space habitat where they carry out engineering and other work for no payment. Their needs are provided by GalacTech, the company that fund their creation and own them. As such the Quadies are basically lower than second class citizens, they are perhaps only a few steps above beasts of burden. They lack the most basic human rights, as these do not extend to transhuman rights.

As you can imagine the central theme of this book is about the right to live a good life, free from tyranny. A right which we would have to extend to any sentient beings we create, be they transhumans or artificial intelligences. Thematically it reminds me a little of Heinlein’s [b:The Moon is a Harsh Mistress|16690|The Moon is a Harsh Mistress|Robert A. Heinlein|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348768309s/16690.jpg|1048525]. However, Falling Free is not some heavy-handed propaganda, Ms. Bujold never loses sight of her role as a storyteller. The story of the Quadies’ struggle for independence and freedom is told in Bujold’s dependable breezy and graceful narrative style. The ethical aspect of the story is for the readers to infer at their leisure or completely ignore if they just want to kick back and soak in a few hours of escapism.

As always Bujold is able to create a cast of relatable characters, the hero Leo Graf (human with legs) is suitably resourceful, honorable, slightly insecure and humble. The main Quaddies characters are very likable and tend to have a childlike earnestness to them. The villain of the piece, Mr. Van Atta, the general manager of the space habitat project, is not one of fiction’s most formidable antagonists. He lacks the competency, his villainy is more of a “boo-hiss” variety. This is not a densely plotted novel, but it does move along at a fair clip.

The Vorkosigan series is often classified as “military science fiction” but Falling Free does not have any military in it, just a few ineffective security guards. This is closer to being a “hard SF” novel than a military one. In fact the science or the “SFnal” aspect of the book may be its best features. The advantages of having four arms and no legs is vividly depicted, as is the Quaddies’s first experience of a planet with gravity, how mobility suddenly becomes much more of an issue. I can just about imagine being a Quaddie. The outcome of the book is fairly predictable but given the plot trajectory I do not see that Bujold had any choice. If you are new to the Vorkosigan series Falling Free is not a bad start, it works 100% as a standalone book, though I believe there are some better books in the series.

About 4.5 stars. ( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
This was the first time I've read anything by this author, and I truly enjoyed it. It's an entertaining blend of engineering, both genetic and mechanical, in a story that kept me interested until the end. Nicely done. ( )
  fuzzi | Dec 4, 2015 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 43 (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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