I don’t believe the actual book is out yet, but you can get an electronic Advance Reading copy of the Nth Miles Vorkosigan book, Cryoburn already. Kate picked up a copy, and while she hasn’t gotten around to it yet, I read it this week while putting SteelyKid to bed.
The book is another “Lord Auditor Vorkosigan” story, with Miles on a mission to Kibou-Dani, a half-terraformed planet with a positive fetish for cryopreservation. A quirk in local laws gives the “cryocorps” that preserve millions of frozen citizens the right to proxy vote for their clients, and control of their property, so they have amassed tremendous wealth and political power, which has a massive distorting effect on their society.
This opens very promisingly, with Miles lost and hallucinating due to a drug reaction, stumbling through miles of underground cryostorage corridors on the run from unknown assailants. He eventually makes it to the surface, where he is taken in by a young boy who collects stray animals, and lives in a sort of cryofacility for squatters. This engages Miles’s tendency toward “expensive knight-errantry,” and he gets entangled in all sorts of local politics.
This was a pretty “Meh” book, really. I’ll keep the big spoilers below the fold, but once the initial escape scene is finished, there’s never any real danger to be faced. The local intrigue is okay, but not all that great, and everything is wrapped up with very little cost to any of the principals. In places, it feels padded, with a lot of passages of Miles waxing philosophical, and there’s some family stuff kind of shoehorned in in a way that felt forced.
For calibration purposes, I am less impressed with this series in general than many SF fans. There are a lot of people who feel they have a level of psychological depth that I just don’t see– for me, they really don’t rise above the level of light entertainment. This was light, but kind of short on entertainment. People who are more impressed with the series in general might feel differently, but I’m looking for a little more plot than this offered.
I will keep the rest of this as vague as possible, but SPOILERS follow, and can be assumed to be present in the comments should there be any comments.
A big part of my problem with the series is that her Big Plot Twists generally feel telegraphed to me, and there were points in this where that was the case. I got the “That’s not our mommy!” thing several pages before it happened, for example, which undercut the impact of the scenes with the stolen corpse.
There were two elements that I didn’t see coming in this, though neither was a good thing. I didn’t really expect Mark to show up in this one, but when he did, it turned out to be disappointing. He wasn’t anything more than a chubby deus ex machina to make some of the legal issues go away.
The second surprise, the big ending, I actually sort of guessed from the really ham-handed foreshadowing in conversations between Miles and Mark, but decided that she couldn’t possibly do that in the last ten pages of the book. And yet, she did. Which was even more disappointing– the event in question deserved a whole lot better than a cliffhanger ending and a handful of drabbles. It felt like it was stuck in at the end to make up for the fact that the rest of the book was so insubstantial, which is even more of a cheat than not doing it at all.
So, as I said, pretty “Meh” in my opinion. It’s a fast read, and has most of what you would expect in terms of prose style and snappy dialogue, but the end result is pretty minor.