The distinguishing feature in the science fiction of Lois McMaster Bujold (BEW-zhoh) is its character-driven stories. By her own admission, however, there is a great deal of “space opera” in her writing. There is also hard science in her work, though more of the science involves medical and biological topics than the physics of space travel or alien worlds. Bujold credits her father as the source of her love for science fiction. A professor of engineering, he read science fiction, and by age nine Lois began to pick up his magazines and paperbacks.
Though she continued her association with science fiction through her high school years (she and Lillian Stewart, also subsequently a published author, cowrote one issue of a media-related fanzine), she put aside writing during college. Two events of her adolescence and college years, however, provided source material for settings in her writing. At age fifteen she visited Italy with her family, absorbing its history, something that would later help form the setting for her fantasy novel The Spirit Ring. A six-week trip to East Africa as a college biology major provided the landscape she worked into Shards of Honor, her first novel.
Active in central Ohio science-fiction fandom while in college, Bujold attended several conventions in Ohio and neighboring states. During the 1970’s and early 1980’s, though, her reading was mostly outside the genre, including a favorite author, Georgette Heyer, whose influence can be seen in some of the romance aspects of her work. During this time, the job she held the longest was that of pharmacy technician, a vocation providing background for the medical science that appears in her fiction.
She married in 1971, moving in 1980 to Marion, Ohio, a small, aging Rust Belt city where her husband had a job. While there, her writing...
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