Cryoburn (Vorkosigan Saga 12) by Lois McMaster Bujold [Book Review]

Miles Vorkosigan is one of those lovable rascals, crippled at birth in a society that used to kill babies like him, he still overcome and surpass the obstacles in his way. Too creative for the armed forces he is appointed Imperial Auditor. He is often a frustration for his leaders and seldom asks for permission. Many times he accomplishes a resolution in an unconventional way that frustrates the people around him. In the last Vorkosigan Novel Diplomatic Immunity he went on a honeymoon with Ekaterin. It is now seven years later.

The novel starts with Miles drugged and lost in a huge underground maze. His own weird biochemistry saved him from being  carried off by kidnappers that took his friend and armsman Roic. He is taken in by a quite charming young boy that lives on a secret enclave in an abandoned cryo facility. Miles have to tackle a society that has lost its way, on a planet where people live to be frozen and almost none is resuscitated, where huge corporations hold proxy rights for all their frozen corpses, where rebels gather under “burn the dead” and someone is trying desperately to cover up the truth. They don’t know what hit them.

It is a fun and fast read even as it contemplates the fallout of cryonics on society. Miles is his usual bright self and he changes the people around him for the better. We meet some old and loved characters from earlier as well as some new ones. Jinn the young boy who lives for his animal is one of them. His story makes it personal and up close. I really liked this book even the emotional last chapter. It feels like Lois has at least another Miles novel brewing. Hope it will not take this long for the next one.


Title: Cryoburn
Series: Vorkosigan Saga book 12
Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
Genre: Space Opera
Publisher: Baen (October 2010)

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Miles Vorkosigan is back!

Kibou-daini is a planet obsessed with cheating death. Barrayaran Imperial Auditor Miles Vorkosigan can hardly disapprove—he’s been cheating death his whole life, on the theory that turnabout is fair play. But when a Kibou-daini cryocorp—an immortal company whose job it is to shepherd its all-too-mortal frozen patrons into an unknown future—attempts to expand its franchise into the Barrayaran Empire, Emperor Gregor dispatches his top troubleshooter Miles to check it out.

On Kibou-daini, Miles discovers generational conflict over money and resources is heating up, even as refugees displaced in time skew the meaning of generation past repair. Here he finds a young boy with a passion for pets and a dangerous secret, a Snow White trapped in an icy coffin who burns to re-write her own tale, and a mysterious crone who is the very embodiment of the warning Don’t mess with the secretary. Bribery, corruption, conspiracy, kidnapping—something is rotten on Kibou-daini, and it isn’t due to power outages in the Cryocombs. And Miles is in the middle—of trouble!

  • I am still only halfway through the book, but I thought she did a pretty good job of matching the topic to her fictional universe. That said, her fictional universe has some elements I find implausible. The form of FTL used is powered by mutant cyborgs, so I suppose this isn’t such a bad thing. But do take the material on cryonics with a grain of salt. In reality, cryonics is not run by for-profits. While it is clear that she has talked to some real cryonicists for some of the material, many of the legalities and certain technological conundrums are sheer plot device material. Hopefully this inspires people to be more open-minded and curious about the topic.

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