(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

As science fiction matures as a literary genre, it becomes harder to pin writers down to one specific category or trend. This is amply reflected in Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series, containing elements of diverse subgenres. There is an element of interplanetary romance, present most prominently in the adventures of the elder generation, Cordelia and Aral. In the comparison of egalitarian, galaxy-wise, sophisticated Beta and militaristic, backward, patriarchal Barrayar, there is a comedy of manners, of sorts, making marvelous inferences concerning attitudes in Western society. The ever-present political complications and military exploits offer yet another type of plot device. Most of all, the series centers on Miles Vorkosigan and his development and exploits against this lively background, so that the series, unlike much science fiction, is driven more by character than by technology.

Even though Bujold’s works are adventure more than comedy, a strong line of humor is apparent. Bujold displays a wry, sometimes black sense of humor, building on ironic remarks, odd juxtapositions, and unexpected images. Much of this humor is connected with her main characters, Cordelia Naismith and, even more so, Miles Vorkosigan, who are afflicted with personalities that cannot help but see life’s incongruities.

Miles is a fascinating figure, a character who pulls one’s imagination in after him with his crazy stunts. He is both attractive and...

(The entire section is 458 words.)