Friday, May 13, 2016

Queen to Knight Two

Well, thanks to a new work schedule and a lot less free time, it took me nearly a month to finish Lois McMaster Bujold's Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen. which really should not be considered a judgement on the novel or the writing, since it winds up being a VERY good book, most just me running low on reading time. (If I miss my 40 book goal for the year, I'll blame this one.)

The title refers to Admiral Oliver Jole and Vicereine Cordelia Vorkosigan, who are on Sergyar, a fairly recently colonized planet in the Barrayarian Empire. (Cordelia is the mother [and heroine of her own set of novels] of Miles Vorkosigan, whom most of the series is about.)

As we join the Admiral and the Vicereine, we hear about the one thing they share intimately: Cordelia's deceased husband, Aral. While the three were never particularly a triad (or thruple, if you feel like annoying a portion of the poly community), both shared a sexual relationship with Aral, who dies some months prior to thie opening of this book. Cordelia and Aral, prior to several novels ago, froze some of their genetic material with the idea of being able to have children later on. (Given the "fun" surrounding Miles birth....) Cordelia plans on having a few daughters via Uterine Replicator, and offers some of Aral's genetic material to Jole so that he could mix his gametes with Aral's to have sons.

Most of the first half of the book centers on Jole's coming to terms with the idea of having sons of his own, as well as a budding romance with Cordelia. (One thing I love about Bujold's writing is that she presents a wide variety of human sexuality, even as the explicit details are never presented.)

In the second half, Jole gets offered a huge promotion that would affect his romance with his lovers ex-wife as well as his own chances at fatherhood. Also, Cordelia's son Miles shows up, trying to figure out what's going on.

There are no epic space battles to be found in here, nor are there that many physical conflicts happening. The conflict here could be be described as middle aged humans trying to find their way through life's forks.

And it works. It works well. And the resolution is beautiful.

Honestly, while the Vorkosigan Saga is not hard sci-fi, it goes well beyond the rather fluffy "space opera" descriptor. One could do much worse than picking up a volume and enjoying the ride.